Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crankbait Basics

Crankbaits for Bass Fishing

The crankbait or crankbait lure, is one of the many tools used in bass fishing for catching bass off of structure. As with plastic worms which I discussed in the last post and most all bass lures, these baits come in many different styles, shapes, colors and designs for many different applications. I’ll go over each basic type here and do my best to help you understand there characteristics and the fishing situation that each is suited for.

Diving Crank Bait

The diving baits have a lip or bill fitted to the front of the lure which causes the bait to dive. The depth to which the bait will dive is controlled by the length of the lip. The longer the lip, the deeper the bait will dive. The shape and width of the lip and the lure determines the action or wobble. Some have a short or tight wobble. Others have a wide wobble action.

Deep Diving Crankbait - 8 to 20 ft depth

Medium Diving Crankbait - 4 to 8 ft depth

Shallow Diving Crankbait - 1 to 4 ft depth

Diving lures are typically used to catch fish on structure or cover located at a particular depth. For example, if bass are holding on stumps or some other cover or structure in 10 ft of water, a deep diving bait would be a good choice.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that because the crank baits package indicates that it runs down to a particular depth that it’s going to run exactly that depth. There are many variables that dictate exactly how deep your bait will dive. One is line size. Using larger or smaller diameter line can vary the depth to which your lure will dive. Smaller line can get you more depth. Larger line can keep your bait up.

Your retrieve can also control the depth to which the bait will dive. To get the maximum depth slow the retrieve to get the lure to run shallower speed up the retrieve.

Crankbait Techniques

As with any other lure, it’s always good to experiment with your crankbait presentation until you determine what’s working in your particular fishing situation. However, typically you can trigger more strikes with a crankbait by getting the bait to act erratic. I like to make the bait bounce off of the cover, dig the bottom or bump into things. I want to feel the bait making contact with something at all times.

Another effective crankbait presentation is the old "stop and go" retrieve. Crank the bait down and stop it. Let it suspend for a few seconds and repeat. Or crank it down until you feel the bait hit something and stop. This is DEADLY the bass can’t stand it.

Lipless Crankbait

The lipless crankbait is the most versatile of all crankbaits. It can be fished in virtually any depth and with any presentation. There are floating lipless crankbaits available. However typically Unlike the lip baits, this lure sinks. You can vary the depth at which it runs by speeding up, or slowing your retrieve.

This bait is great for fishing situations which the diving lures are not favorable. For example fishing over or in grass or weeds, or in deeper water than a diving bait will reach. However it can also be used on the same type situations as the diving baits.

The disadvantage of the lipless lure is that you may not be able to work it as slow as a diving bait. So if the fish are favoring a slow moving lure, the diving bait may be a better choice.

One lipless crankbait presentation that has worked well for me in deeper water fishing situations, is to cast the bait out, let it sink to the bottom and use the rod tip to jerk the bait up off the bottom about 12 inches and then let it fall back on a tight line. The fish will usually strike as the bait is falling.

Crankbait rod

A question I get very! often. What’s the best crankbait rod. The best rod for fishing crankbaits is not going to be the same as you need for fishing finesse baits such as plastic worms and jigs. You don’t need the same stiff action and sensitivity.. For this application I prefer a much softer and much less sensitive action.
Many pro’s including myself opt for fiberglass rods for fishing crankbaits. The fiberglass fishing rod typically has a softer action and is much more suited for fishing lures that are fitted with multiple treble hooks and basically create their own action.

The exceptions to this however, for me personally, is the lipless crankbait, jerkbaits and topwater lures which require the angler to create the action of the bait. For these I prefer the stiffer action graphite rods.

So what’s the best crankbait rod? Do you need to spend a lot of money? No, you can buy a Shakespear ugly stik for around $30.00 It’s a great crankbait rod.

Crankbait Tips

I hope I have given you a good overview of crankbait fishing. I'm going to end this post with a couple tips.

Get yourself a good lure retriever. Good crankbaits, are slightly more expensive than some bass lures and if you are using them correctly you will get snagged. A good lure retriever will pay for it’s self in no time.

Keep your hooks rust free. Spray a little WD40 on them a couple times each year. WD 40 is also a good fish attractant ( NO Im not kidding)

Use clear plastic boxes to store your baits and separate them into different categories. This will save you from wasting precious fishing time rummaging through your tackle box looking for the right crankbait

Until next time


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