One of the most used type of fishing lures are crankbaits and there are a million questions and answers connected to fishing with them. The most common ones are what color, kind and where and when to use them, this guide will try to answer these questions based on my own experiences.
What are crankbaits actually?
There are an abundance of manufacturers but the most popular and successful are Luhr-Jensen, Bomber, Mann`s, Rapala, Storm, Berkley, Lucky Craft, Bill Lewis and rebel. There are as you probably knows a lot more also thousands of unique custom made crankbaits by individuals and small businesses.
Crankbaits are fishing lures that imitates minnows or small fish, and they suspend and/or float in the water layers. They come in different shapes and with different lips sizes, some do not even have a lip. They typically comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and weights, designed for a particular depth and action. The main purpose is as close as possible to simulate an escaping or injured fish/crawfish.
The guide will first begin with the suspending and floating variety of slim and fat bodied crankbaits.
Flat sided crankbaits
The body shapes have all distinct advantages over each other at different seasons of the year, firstly due to the water temperature and secondly to the size of the actual baitfish present in that particular body of water. No rule without an exception but basically the slimmer crankbaits that are flat sided, suspending and/or floating, are more successful early and late in the year, mainly when the water temperature is below 60 degrees.
Those flat sided crankbaits will early in the year imitate a fleeing crawfish, and the most effective colors are shades of brown and red. The right depth is cruical, because it is imprtant that the bait comes as close to the bottom as possible.
Flat sided crankbaits have a neutral buoyancy and it is vital to make the fishing lure act like a real crawfish. The very best option is to use abait witha lip designed to bump against rocks and other cover to gain this act without getting stuck or be damaged.The flat sided baits is best to this purpose.
A lure called Bomber Flat A perform good at this and catch a lot of bass pre spawning using a slow steady reeling. Later in the year, in fall, it is recommendable to use different shad patterns like Chrome, or Pearl for bass that are suspending. Use a steady, slow to medium reeling.
Target the shores that are wind blown first, when you use these lures, and do not hesitate to use them where it is little cover and most people do not fish. It can be very rewarding. These flat sided crankbaits are especially good in areas where the water is about 3-8 feet. Usually it is not recommended to use these lures in heavy cover but a bait called RC3 from Poe`s seems to have great results in these areas. To catch bass in open waters it is great to use Shad Rap from Rapala.
Personally I use spinning gear to cast these fishing lures, like the Shad Rap, and Shaimano reel equipped with 8-10 pound test line. I also use a 7 foot medium-action rod with baitcaster, like G.Loomis or Lew`s or just a Shimano reel geared down lower. Try to test out 10 to 15 crankbaits and see how they perform to find the 2 to 3 with the right action. When the water temperature is rising to the 40`s or 50`s the lures can wiggle a little bit more.
Small baitfish are the main source of food for bass in cold water and for best results try to match the bait with the fish. The earlier mentioned Flat A seems to look like a Bluegill or Shad, whaich is the main food source for bass in most lakes in the US, and they work very well in clearer water. The unique screw of the water flow generated by the flat sides creates the effective luring movements.
Additional crankbaits to be mentioned is Sebile`s Rattsler. The Rattsler is not flat sided but have ultra thin body and as a result it is a bit light compared to its side profile size, because it is so flat and thin. The flat sides stir and move the water so it becomes tons of turbulence as the Rattsler wiggle along. The movement of this lure can be called frantic and tight, and it is a lot of side ways full body flipping movements.
It is recommendable to use Rattsler 85 VLL and 85ML to everyday, average fishing on decent size bodies of water for medium sized fish.
Fat bodied Crankbaits
When working shallow or brushy cover I recommend fat bodied cranks, this is because they come through it better and have a wider wiggle which sometimes bass prefer. These fishing lures are in my opinion more effective in murky waters and over weedbeds not yet grown to the surface. I suggest Mann`s Baby 1 Minus, 1 Minus and Lucky Craft for this style of shallow moving crankbaits. But always try to match the main prey fish of the particular lake or river you are fishing in.
Be aware of that in some days you cant get a bass to come up to a topwater such as Zara Spook or a buzzbait, but you could then try fat bodied crankbaits running just under the surface creating a wake over the weed. Bomber also have a great lure for this, called Shallow A.
To help the bait running on top you can use thicker line and in really clearer water with little cover, bass will relate to a shade fishing line. When you use shade line, try to burn the bait, bass usually lurk in the shadows and if you burn the bait through the shades as near the structures as possible you can experience a lot of hits.
Suspending crankbaits always run deeper than floating due to their weight, keep that in mind especially when you are fishing in rivers near creek channels or bends.
River bends is often packed with structures like fallen trees and bushes and they creates a slower current making it preferable for largemouth to lay in ambush. In these situations I would prefer wooden lures before plastic lures as wooden lures has more floation and action many times. Plastic lures are more versatile though.
A good advice is to shange the hooks after a couple of months depending on the use and the number and type of fish caught on them. Always replace the hooks with quality hooks.
It is also important to keep track of the depth and cover of where you fish and investing in a fish finder can be very useful.
If you want to go deep for bass, lipless crankbaits are a good choice and 1-ounce Cordell Rattlin Spot,Lucky Craft, Rattlin Rapala in 1/2 ounce perform well. These fishing lures works well in deeper waters and ponds and as patterns I use Chrome or Shad. Colors, red and orange.
When you are fishing with crankbaits always try to cover the area at various angles at different reeling speeds. There is so many ways to present the bait for bass or other predators and it can shift from day to another. So do not hang yourself up in a certain retrieving pattern but try to change and test.