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Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing

shock leaders for surf fishing

If you've just started out fishing from a beach then you may well have seen other angler either using or talking about shock leaders for surf fishing.

For the beginner they can seem a little daunting but in reality they are pretty simple and once you get your head around the concept then you'll realize there is no that much too them.

Surf fishing is sometimes a game of distance. An angler must cast their lure as hard as possible to get it out past the breaking waves where fish will have a better chance at seeing the bait and taking a bite.

However, sometimes when anglers attempt to cast their lures out very far, their lines simply can’t hold up to the immediate strain that the large hook, bait and heavy weight can put on the line.

To avoid snapping their line during a hard cast—or a fight with a large fish—anglers use shock leaders for surf casting.

Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing 

What is a shock leader?

A shock leader is a heavier length of line that reduces the chances of your terminal tackle breaking off during casting.

Shock leaders are usually made from heavy monofilament line typically being at least 50 pound test and sometimes up to 300 pound test.

Monofilament line is the ideal material for a shock leader as it is constructed from one continuous strand of fiber, which gives it added stretchability and strength compared to other kinds of line like fluorocarbon or braided line.

Plus, monofilament is tougher than other kinds of line and will withstand any potential abrasions that can lead to a broken line.

Some anglers can make their own shock leaders for surf fishing by using heavier line and tying both strands together using what’s known as a shock leader knot.

It is usually recommended that anglers use slightly more than two rod lengths for their shock leaders, or at least 27-30 feet of line. 

How do shock leaders work?

A shock leader works by having a very strong length of leader that can withstand the high pressure that surf casting puts on you line during the initial cast.

Anyone who is a surf fishing guru will likely be using a 12 to 15 foot surf fishing rod in order to cast their bait as far as possible. If you’ve ever watched a surf fishing angler cast their rod, you’ve probably noticed that they usually heave it with everything they have.

This sudden, immediate cast puts a significant amount of centrifugal force on the line, which would typically break under such pressure as most lines simply can’t hold up under the strain. Shock leaders provide added strength that will allow the angler to apply as much pressure as they want when casting.

How strong should my shock leader be?

The strength, or pound test, of your shock leader should be determined by the weight of your entire rig, which will include the hook, bait, swivel and sinker. According to most experts, shock leaders for surf fishing should be at least 10 pounds in weight for every one ounce of rigging.

As a good rule of thumb, it’s best to start out with a 50 pound leader and increase the pound test rating depending on the size and weight of your rig and surf fishing bait.

What if I have to change my shock leader on the beach?

When surf fishing, you might find that the waves and current can quickly become much stronger in just a matter of a few hours.

If you’re fishing in the surf and find that your sinker is not heavy enough to sufficiently keep your bait in place, and keeps getting pulled away, then it’s time to add a heavier sinker.

Be careful when adding a heavier sinker because you can easily overload your shock leader and have a disastrous result of your line snapping mid-cast, which can seriously injure anyone nearby, including yourself.

It’s often a good idea to be prepared to go with a heavier shock leader and pack some heavier monofilament line in your tackle gear.

Instead of taking the time to remove the shock leader you already have on your rod, many anglers will simply tie another shock leader onto the end of the existing one that’s already on the line. This will save you time and ensure that your rod’s line won’t snap with any added weight. 

Summary

Shock leaders are not only used for surf fishing, but are also used by deep sea anglers who are many miles offshore and sometimes fishing for giant trophy game fish.

They are the secret for allowing surf fishing anglers to go after for huge game fish species like sharks and bull redfish from the shoreline.

Learning to use one from the start is one of the best surf fishing tips I ever got.

While some anglers prefer to use heavier braided line when surf fishing, shock leaders allow you to typically throw your bait much farther, feel the bite with more sensitivity and your line will be much more camouflaged underwater.

For your next surf fishing trip, even if you’re going after relatively small game fish like flounder, pompano or other species, it’s a good idea to use a shock leader that will ensure that you’ll help prevent breaks in your line and that you’ll be able to really cast the maximum distance your rod is capable of throwing a bait. 

7 Surf Fishing Tips for Beginners

Surf Fishing

You don’t always have to go dozens of miles offshore to experience great saltwater fishing. If you know how to look in the right places, you can catch huge fish right off the shoreline at most beaches. 

Many surf fishermen catch a wide variety of sought-after game fish along the beaches, including red drum, seatrout, flounder, pompano, striped bass and many more.

Using the right combination of bait, surf tackle and picking the right spot, you can put together some of the best surf fishing tips to become an expert angler and land some impressive catches on the beach.

Surf fishing is considered more difficult than most forms of angling as it usually requires more experience to become truly successful at it. Many anglers do not live close enough to the coastal shoreline to become skilled enough to be considered a great surf fishermen.

However, if you follow the right surf fishing tips, you’ll find that anyone can put together enough angling skills and knowledge to be moderately successful from the shore. 

Here are some of the best surf fishing tips for beginners to help you hook a trophy game fish from the shoreline all the while enjoying the sand between your toes and the waves crashing in front of you.

Surf Fishing Tips

1. Ask the Locals

As in any other form of fishing—especially if you’re very unfamiliar with the methods employed by the local anglers who experience success on a regular basis—it’s a great idea to ask the locals for advice.

The best place to go for fishing advice is always the local bait shop. With more and more anglers shopping for bait and tackle online, the old school mom and pop bait shops are dwindling down to just a few, but if you can locate one, be sure to use it to gain some valuable intel.

Don’t be shy about the information you’re wanting, and if a store worker or local angler blows you off, simply move on and ask someone else. Eventually, you’ll find someone who is usually happy to share their secrets with another angler who is equally passionate about fishing. 

2. Find the Best Spot

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a great idea to select just any old spot along the shoreline in most coastal areas. Just like lakes, rivers and other waterways, you’ll want to search out the spot where large numbers of game fish are hanging out and feeding.

How can you find such a place if you’re totally new to a coastal area? Again, asking the locals is a great strategy to find a prime location. Don’t stop at your local bait shop, either. Sometimes the local bar or pub is as good an information base as any.

You’ll want to look for sandbars and watch how the waves break around them. The ideal location for casting your bait will be located between two sandbars in an area where a “riptide” usually occurs. Fish are well-aware of this riptide and will stay near it in hopes that it will carry baitfish in their direction.

One of the best tips we can give you for finding a great fishing spot on the coast is to walk the beach and look for other fishermen staking out their claim.

If you find a group of guys who are set up with more than your average tourist angler’s bait and tackle, odds are you’ve stumbled upon a great spot. Don’t crowd them, and only move into the spot once they pack up and leave.

3. Fish Big

Remember, saltwater fishing means you might possibly catch something much larger than you expect, which is part of the thrill for most anglers. If you plan to fish from the shoreline, you’ll want to use tackle that can handle the sea and the sand, as well as any giant fish that bites your hook.

Sometimes you can get by with throwing your favorite open face bass setup in and catching a few fish, but you’re taking a huge risk in allowing the saltwater and sand to permanently damage your reel.

Be sure to come prepared and get your own surf rod and reel. These are typically at least 8 feet long and have a larger reel which holds heavier line.

One of the reasons you’ll want a larger rod and reel setup is in case a monster fish bites and you’re in for the fight of your life.

The other reason as to why you’d want a longer, bigger setup is because you need to be able to cast out far enough to avoid the strong waves and currents that might wash your bait inland. Also, be sure to use a rod holder to make sure your bait stays still and your rod isn’t pulled out to sea. 

4. Go Heavy

You should already be using a larger rod and reel, so don’t be shy about going big and heavy with your tackle. Unless you’re goal is to just catch smaller fish, it’s a good idea to rig your rod and reel with heavy line, large sinkers and hooks and a good shock leader for surf casting.

A visit to any local bait shop will help you determine the best kind of bait and tackle to use for surf fishing. If you’re going to be fishing in an area with a strong current, you might want to use a spider weight, which is a sinker that has copper arms sticking out that will dig into the sand and prevent your bait from drifting too much. 

5. Use Natural Baits

Many of the fish you’re after when surf fishing are cruising the shoreline in search of naturally occurring baitfish and other meals. You can find the best surf fishing baits such as shrimp, squid, or any kind of cut bait like cigar minnows or mullet at your local tackle shop.

Many game fish species found in the surf at local beaches see these baits as a lucky find and an irresistible meal, especially if the area is seldom fished.

Tailor your surf fishing bait selection based on what you plan to catch—if you’re hoping to catch large bull redfish or sharks, be sure to go very big with hooks, line and sinker. If you’re fishing for smaller catches, it’s fine to use tackle that fit your needs. 

6. Go When the Tide is Right

The most valuable surf fishing tip you can get is anything related to the best time of day in relation to the tide. Fishing when the tide is rising or falling is best because fish use this tide to find their food.

Fishing early in the morning or late in the evening is a great strategy as the tides will always be shifting during these hours. 

7. Utilize Apps

Technology is a wonderful thing for us anglers and taking advantage of it can mean that you exponentially increase your catch rate.

There are several great smartphone apps out there that will usually show you the best spots for surf fishing, along with various surf fishing tips for a specific area. 


Best Surf Fishing Baits

Best Surf Fishing Baits

Surf fishing should be on every angler’s bucket list to do at least once in their lifetime.

Odds are that, once you actually go surf fishing, you’ll develop a healthy appetite for it and will already be planning your return trip before you even leave the beach. 

While there are untold miles of coastline throughout the world, much of the tips you’ll come across for the best surf fishing baits to use are relatively the same and any other part of the world.

The key is to keep in mind what the specific game species of fish you’re after will be seeking when they’re swimming along the coastline.

Surf fishing is preferred by the average angler, particularly those who don’t wish to spend thousands of dollars on their own boat, or shell out several hundred for a private fishing charter.

Investing in the best surf fishing rod you can afford is probably the most important thing to get right from the start as with surf fishing casting is crucial.

In many ways, surf fishing is the true test of an anglers because it forces you to be very limited as to where you can fish, and also makes you rely on your naturally occurring surroundings that are always changing with the tides.

In order to become a true surf fishing guru, you’ll need to have several years under your belt fishing from the coastline, but you can always use these six tips for the best surf fishing baits to get a headstart on other anglers.

Best Surf Fishing Baits

1. Sand Fleas

Arguably the best bait for surf fishing is the common sand flea, also known as sand crabs and mole crabs. These are one of the best baits for surf fishing because they are usually what fish are looking for when they’re scouring the surf in search of a meal.

It’s actually quite simple to catch your own sand fleas from the area you’re fishing in. Don’t worry, they can’t actually bite or pinch you so, you shouldn’t be scared to go after them when they try to quickly burrow into the sand and hide. 

2. Shrimp

Shrimp are perhaps the best all-around, all-purpose bait for surf fishing, or fishing anywhere in saltwater for that matter. They can be found nearly everywhere there’s coastline and fish love to make an easy meal out of them.

Sometimes, using dead shrimp for bait is acceptable, but there are other occasions when using live shrimp is your best bet for catching fish in the surf. Shrimp are a great bait choice for tarpon, snapper, grouper and many other game fish species you’ll find swimming along the coastal shoreline.

The only drawback to fishing live shrimp is their inability to stay on the hook as long as other types of bait. 

3. Menhaden

One of the best surf fishing baits, especially if you’re going after striped bass, is menhaden. These small bait fish are ideal for cutting into small sections and placing on your hook to catch a giant fish in the surf.

Fishing in the surf using menhaden cut bait is like throwing a t-bone steak in the water. Fish will often go out of their way to bit a nice chunk of menhaden.

This kind of bait can also be tough to keep on a hook as some types of fish will effectively pull it off your hook and you’ll be stuck fishing on credit.

If you’re using cut menhaden, be sure to hook it through the portion of skin just at the top of the back so that your hook passes under the fish’s spine, which will provide added support and prevent your bait from being stolen. 

4. Squid

For many novice anglers, using squid as bait might sound like a stereotypical joke that older anglers play on newcomers.

However, squid are one of the best surf fishing baits you can opt for because they’ll stay on the hook much longer than other kinds of bait.

Squid is a great choice of bait for surf fishing because it’s cheap and readily available almost anywhere you’ll be going fishing.

You might end up getting ink on your hands, but don’t worry this is a good thing to have on your squid. The more ink that’s on your bait, the most strongly it will smell to any fish in the area.

Squid are also known for putting out lots of scent in the water, which will attract any nearby fish to come in and investigate.

This is a solid choice of bait, but if other anglers in the area are always using it, odds are that the fish along the coast have grown to become suspicious of anything resembling a squid. Nevertheless, it’s an easy addition to our list of the best baits for surf fishing. 

5. Clams

Many hardcore surf fishermen would probably put clams higher on our list for the best surf fishing bait, but none of these are in the order of best to worst. Clams would actually make a strong argument for being the best surf fishing bait, anywhere in the world.

Many bait shops sell frozen clams, but as usual, you’re much better off going out and catching your own bait to ensure that it’s as fresh as possible.

While there are many different ways to catch and find clams, there are some great online resources that detail the most effective methods for catching your own clams.

Clams are also notorious for coming off the hook easily, so it’s very important to hook them the right way, every single time. You can also find specific netting or clam line and tie the clam onto your hook to ensure that it won’t be easily stolen. 

6. Crabs

Crabs are another great choice of bait for anyone looking to catch fish in the surf. Blue crabs are usually considered the best and we could have lumped these in with sand fleas, but we chose not to.

Crabs might not seem like the ideal bait for surf fishing since their body is hard and they’re armed with large pinchers, but they actually are very effective. The smartest method for crab fishing is to catch your own crabs and use them right where you found them.

Many anglers will venture out to the beach the night before their fishing trip and catch as many crabs as they think they’ll need for the following day. Be sure to hook the crab through it’s underside and run the hook back through the hard shell on top.

This will make it very tough for any fish to steal the crab off your hook, and will increase your changes of catching fish as most species of game fish will choose to bit the crab at it’s back end and go after the eggs. 


Tackle Considerations

When fishing with bait you will be using a variety of surf fishing rigs depending on the type of bottom and how large a bait you are using. A large bait and sinker will require the use of a heavy shock leader for surf fishing.

As a general rule surf fishing tackle will generally require a good setup that can cast well out past the waves and over any potential sand bars. 

Best Color Lens for Fishing

Best Color Lens for Fishing

One of the most valuable pieces of equipment an angler can have in their possession on the water is one that might surprise some enthusiasts that are new to the sport.

Sunglasses have immense advantages to fishermen that allow them to not only protect their eyes, but also to see deep into the water beyond what the naked eye is capable of catching.

Nearly every professional angler has the telltale “racoon” eyes tan line that’s caused from wearing sunglasses for hours on end while fishing.

It can serve as a hard-earned badge of honor for many fishermen, but have you ever watched a professional angler switch out the sunglasses he’s wearing for another pair during a tournament?

There’s a good reason why many anglers carry different kinds of lenses with them when fishing.

If you’ve ever went to purchase a pair of sunglasses from a sporting goods store, you’ve probably noticed that there are a variety of different styles and colors when it comes to lenses. This has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with functionality.

Go for Polarized Lenses

As you might already know, anglers who don’t wear polarized sunglasses are really handicapping themselves from the very start. The best color lenses for fishing might vary, but always be sure that the lenses you’re looking to purchase are polarized.

What does “polarized lenses” mean?

Simply put, polarized lenses are specially designed to allow vertical light rays to enter through the lenses while filtering out horizontal light rays.

Have you ever been fishing without sunglasses on a sunny day and notice that your eyes tend to hurt after a while? That’s because your eyes are being bombarded with vertical and horizontal light rays thanks to the many different, moving angles on the water surface that reflect the sun’s rays back toward you.

As a general rule regardless of lens color the best fishing sunglasses will have polarized lens as standard.

Polarized lenses will take care of your eyes and preserve your vision much longer than non-polarized lenses. For anglers, polarized lenses are a must. 

Best Color Lens for Fishing

1. Yellow Lenses

If you’re familiar at all with rifle scopes, you’ve probably noticed that most of the scopes that are optimized for low-light situations have a yellowish hue to them.

This is because yellow lens coating helps to create a heightened color contrast, meaning that they will provide more clarity early in the morning, or late in the evening at dusk.

Yellow lenses are also a good choice for overcast or rainy days when the sun just won’t come out and shine. They will allow for greater depth perception and sharpness, which is extremely handy when you’re talking about looking into the water to survey different types of structure.

While they have plenty of great qualities, yellow lenses are not a good choice for bright, sunny days. 

2. Copper Lenses

Let’s cut to the chase—if you’re looking for one pair of sunglasses that you can wear at any time of the day, rain or shine and be at an advantage over other anglers who are sporting cheap, non-polarized sunglasses, copper lenses are what you’re looking for.

There is a common myth out there that copper lenses are made for more brownish-colored water and grey lenses are for clearer water. This is simply not true.

Copper lenses have much of the same high color contrast capability as the yellow lenses, but they also provide protection against very bright sunlight thanks to their darker coloring. This makes them a great all-around choice, and probably the best color lens for fishing if you ask many anglers.

Also, copper lenses are a favorite for anglers who are sight fishing and heavily rely on their ability to see deep into the water and get a visual on bedding bass or other game fish. Think of copper lenses as being much like X-ray vision for anglers. 

3. Grey Lenses

Grey colored lenses are more about protection than they are about being able to see into the water with great clarity in the same way you can with copper lenses.

While grey lenses have much of the same high contrast ability that copper and yellow lenses are known for, these types of shades are designed more for protecting your eyes against bright sunlight.

Grey lenses are ideal for when you’re fishing in deep water, or when you don’t expect to need to rely on seeing any underwater structure.

They greatly reduce eye fatigue and are able to prevent eye damage better than other colors. 

4. Mirrored Lenses

If maximum eye protection is your concern, mirrored lenses are best for blocking more light rays than other lenses.

Instead of allowing the light rays to penetrate through the lens, mirrored lenses actually reflect most of the light rays that would otherwise pierce through normal sunglasses.

Mirrored lenses don’t offer much in the way of helping you see into the water and gain insight as to what kind of underwater cover is beneath you, but it can serve a purpose when you’ve been fishing for days on end and your vision has taken a beating.

Best Lens Color for Fishing Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to purchasing a pair of shades for fishing or any other activity, you get what you pay for. Some of the more expensive brands don’t just offer a well-known name and logo, they feature some serious benefits over the cheaper models that will quickly degrade and likely break under the slightest pressure.

Purchasing glass lenses as opposed to acrylic or polyurethane lenses will carry advantages like being more scratch resistant while also offering superb clarity over other material.

Cheap sunglasses are almost always made with acrylic lenses, which will become scratched or broken more easily than other types of material.

There are some brands out there that manufacture quality sunglasses with polyurethane lenses. Popular brands like Oakley, Maui Jim, and many more produce great shades that are moderately affordable and ultra-lightweight.

When purchasing a quality pair of sunglasses for fishing, be sure to go with a pair that feature heavier and taller frames as this will also help block out more sunlight.

Remember that sunglasses are a tool that a smart angler uses to their advantage. While other fishermen are likely selecting different colors based on personal preference and basing their decisions solely on looks, you’ll be able to understand the advantages of each kind of lens and use them effectively. 

Sight Fishing 101 – Tips and Tricks

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing can be one of the most adrenaline-pumping forms of angling in the world. 

You catch a glimpse of the large game fish you’re after and move in, working your lure around the area in a delicate manner so as not to spook the fish.

If you’re lucky—and skillful—you’ll get a bite. 

For most anglers, fishing is more of a guessing game than anything.

Many sportsmen rely on electronics to find and target fish, or they base their angling decisions on proven knowledge of fish behavior depending on the time and place. 

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing, however, utilizes an angler’s ability to first spot the fish they’re after and then target them with their lure of choice. This can be especially frustrating when the fish you’re after doesn’t bite, or worse, leaves the area. 

The sight fishing method is highly productive for a variety of game fish species around the world. Professional bass anglers prowl the waters of the Deep South, looking for giant bedding bass during the early months of the year when largemouth are spawning and can be found at or near their beds. 

Trout fishermen often stalk through miles of trails to a chosen location where they survey the rolling water, using their gaze to pinpoint the slightest movement by a fish against the current.

Saltwater anglers typically cruise around the inlets and flats in search of bait balls or whatever their fish of choice is before developing their plan of attack in order to land the fish they’re after. 

No matter what kind of fish you choose to target using the sight fishing method, there are some tried and true sight fishing tips and tricks that will undoubtedly help you up your game and land more fish.

1. Improve Your Vision

Sight fishing anglers rely on one thing to locate the fish they plan to catch: their vision. Anything you can do to improve your ability to see into the water is a plus.

Thankfully, recent technological advancements have given rise to eyewear that allows anglers to see into water with more clarity than ever before.

Many of the most popular name-brand eyewear companies have polarized fishing sunglasses that are ideal for anglers to wear while sight fishing.

Remember that you mostly get what you pay for when you’re purchasing a good pair of fishing sunglasses. 

Regardless of what you think the best color lens for fishing is always choose a pair of sunglasses with polarized lens.

2. Move Slowly

One of the most common mistakes anglers make then sight fishing is getting in a hurry. Some of the best sight fishing tips you can get from experienced anglers involve slowing down to truly survey the water you are in and take time to look for those fish that are lurking in hard-to-find places.

Many times, anglers make the mistake of expecting to get a clear visual of a fish and they pass over a spot where a trophy game fish might be hiding out.

If you take the knowledge you already have about the particular species of game fish you’re targeting, use that information along with your instinct to meticulously search the water. Sometimes you might only see a tail flicker or catch sight of a fish that’s sticking close to some underwater cover, out of sight from most anglers.

3. Get High

Getting high is a great strategy for sight fishing. And no, we’re not talking about impairing your senses with drugs or alcohol. Many of the most experienced sight fishermen know that in order to get a good visual on your target, getting to an elevated position always helps.

Sight fishing anglers usually have boats that are specially fitted with tall platforms that provide an elevated view of an angler’s surroundings. This lets you spot fish from farther out and also get a good visual from a better angle.

Redfish are one of the most popular game fish on Earth—and for good reason. They grow to be very large and are tenacious fighters when hooked. Anglers routinely use platform-fitted boats to search for redfish and many other saltwater species.

For trout anglers, it can sometimes be helpful to climb large boulders or get to a higher elevation above the water and take a few minutes to look for fish. 

4. Study Your Prey

Another painful mistake that many sight fishermen make is eagerly throwing a lure right in on top of a fish as soon as they see one. This is a great way to spook a fish and ruin your chances at catching a trophy.

When sight fishing, be sure to take your time and study the fish you’re after once you’ve sighted them. Pay attention to whether the fish is on bed, or cruising around in search of baitfish or another meal.

Studying the fish’s behavior will give you an idea of how you need to approach it in order to get a bite. 

5. Don’t Get Too Close

Sight fishing is a great way of finding and catching trophy fish, but if you get too close to a mature game fish, odds are that it will be gone for good. Getting just within range of a large fish without scaring it away is a very delicate process that takes practice and skill to achieve.

This is another reason why it’s important to take your time and move slowly as moving in at a hurried pace will make it more likely that the fish will be spooked. The key here is to make sure that you see the fish before the fish sees you. 

6. Use Camouflage

Being very good at sight fishing means you have to sometimes think outside the box and get creative. If you’re sight fishing from the shoreline, it’s a good idea to try to blend in with your surroundings as best you can.

Nothing will scare a fish away faster than the outline of a looming figure on the water’s edge that is clearly not natural.

Many skilled sight fishermen who target saltwater game fish will wear light blue, white or grey clothing in an effort to better blend in with the sky above the water. If you’re fishing around a wooded area, it’s not a bad idea to dress in some camouflage clothing in order to stay undetected. 

7. Stay Quiet

You might be surprised to learn that fish can actually hear you if you make too much noise. No, they don’t have ears, but game fish are well-tuned to their environment and will quickly pick up on any sudden or unnatural vibrations.

When sight fishing, you’ll be working to get close enough to make a cast toward your target and remaining as quiet as possible will go a long way in helping you catch the one you’re after. 

Crankbait Fishing for Bass

Crankbait Fishing for Bass

If there is one lure in a bass angler’s arsenal that wields more advantages than any other, many would probably say that it’s the crankbait.

Originally developed more than 100 years ago, crankbaits are designed to mimic swimming baitfish and are able to cover wide swaths of any given body of water, as well as specific depths.

Since they were first developed, the basic design of crankbaits have remained largely the same with some exceptions. Lure manufacturers now understand a great deal more about crankbait fishing for bass and how they relate to fish in ways that few anglers understood nearly a century ago. 

While this is possibly the most valuable lure you can have in your tackle box, there are still many different aspects related to crankbaits that an angler must thoroughly understand in order to successfully use crankbaits for bass fishing.

Crankbait Fishing for Bass

Not all crankbaits are created equal. Knowing the differences and proper uses for each type of crankbait can bring significant amounts of success to anglers that truly wish to get the most out of crankbait fishing for bass.

Square Billed Crankbaits

What’s the difference between a square billed crank and a typical round billed lure? The action.

A square bill crankbait will actually create a wider back and forth action, or “wobble” which often allows this kind of crankbait to skirt past lots of underwater structure and cover that would normally be a trap for other lures to be hung up in. 

Shallow Diving Crankbaits

Upon first glance, most novice anglers might assume that they would be well advised to keep their crankbaits far away from structure and the chance of being hung up, possibly losing their lure.

You might be surprised to learn that crankbaits are actually meant to be fished near cover and often produce bites when they make contact with underwater branches or stumps, causing the crankbait to glance off the object, which looks very similar to a swimming baitfish quickly darting around the structure in a natural motion.

Most experienced anglers recommend casting well past underwater structure and reeling your crankbait in with disregard for being hung up as the lure will actually “bounce” off of most kinds of cover where fish usually hide out.

Shallow diving crankbaits are great for throwing around structures in less than 6 feet of water in efforts to locate fish and then home in on them with other baits. 

Medium Diving Crankbaits

Medium diving crankbaits have the same ability to bounce away from underwater obstacles, as do deep divers. These types of crankbaits will usually run about 10 feet underwater, but don’t think that you need to avoid running your bait along the bottom.

In fact, professional anglers recommend aggressively reeling your crankbait across the bottom of any given waterway in an effort to disturb the water and attract any nearby fish to come and investigate.

Be sure that you’re well-acquainted with the specific depth of the area you’re fishing in before throwing a particular kind of crankbait. Crankbait fishing for bass means that you want to dig into the bottom, but not too much. 

Deep Diving Cranks

Perhaps the most popular kind of crankbaits are the deep diving variety. Deep divers are known to have the telltale bill that juts out at a sharp downward angle, which gives the lure it’s unique ability to penetrate the water quickly and travel down into the depths of around 15 to 20 feet—depending on how fast you retrieve the lure.

Just like shallow and medium divers, deep diving crankbaits are also designed to glance off cover and trigger a bite.

Deep diving cranks are great for targeting creek channels, brush piles, or steep ledges, especially as specific times of the year. 

Crankbait Tackle

For crankbaits to run properly underwater, they must be fished with a rod that can leverage the best possible angle. This means that using a longer rod will allow you to not only throw the lure father, but you’ll be able to retrieve it with a little more power.

Professional anglers typically use a light-medium or medium-heavy rod of about 7 feet in length as their main choice when choosing a crankbait rod.

Look to use a medium action rod because this will allow the lure to run more smoothly underwater.

As for which type of reel is best for crankbaits, most anglers will agree that a 5:4:1 gear ratio is best. Fishing a crankbait is not about fooling the bass into biting the lure, but making the fish think that an easy meal is quickly getting away from them—which prompts them to aggressively chase the lure down.

Customizing, Repairing, and Tuning your Crankbaits

Most anglers will switch their stock hooks out for higher-quality, sharper hooks on a given crankbait. This is because many professional anglers choose to fish a crankbait with disregard in many cases, meaning that they are fine with throwing a cheaply-priced lure body, but the hooks are often the deciding factor as to whether or not you lose or land a fish.

If you do decide to swap out your crankbait’s hooks, be sure that you’re using hooks that are the same size and weight. Placing the wrong kind of hooks on your crankbait will result in the wrong kind of “wobble” underwater when it counts.

Like all other lures, crankbaits can sometimes be defective right out of the package, or it can become damaged when a hard strike hits your lure.

Don’t be afraid to take a closer look at your crankbait and make sure the bill is not loose or that the line tie is on the right side of the loop. IF you feel your crank running too hard to the left, use a pair of pliers to move the knot to the other side of your tie loop, and vice versa. 

When and Where to Use a Particular Type of Crankbait?

There are seemingly endless types of crankbaits and it might appear to be a bit overwhelming for a novice angler to figure out exactly how and when to use a particular type of crank. Here are some of the most common styles of crankbait fishing for bass among professional and experienced anglers.

Spring

Prespawn feeding usually pushes larger female bass into the shallows where they will devour anything and everything they can in preparation for the spawn. This is a great time to employ a shallow diving crankbait.

For most anglers, early springtime means finding success in throwing red-colored lures, especially crankbaits. This is because a shallow diving crankbait that’s fished along the bottom in a manner that will stir up debris mimics a fleeing crawfish—which are probably the absolute favorite cuisine for largemouth bass.

Summer

During summer, the water can reach higher temperatures, meaning bass are much more active and will chase down fast-moving lures. Most of the larger bass will hang out in deep water, meaning a fast-running deep diver is ideal for midsummer bass fishing.

You can reel this lure in as fast as you want, but remember, you want to go with darker and more green colors to mimic a swimming baitfish during this time of year.

Fall

Every angler worth his salt will be throwing crankbaits in the fall. Largemouth bass will seek out shad and other small bait fish during this time of year above all other potential meals, which officially makes fall the ideal crankbait season.

You can experiment with a variety of colors during this time, but be sure to throw your crankbait at or near underwater structure.

Winter

You might be asking, “What about flat-sided crankbaits?”

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about them. Winter is actually the best time of year for this variation of crankbaits as they produce a tighter, more subtle wobble and can be fished slowly at a variety of depths in order to trigger a sluggish bass to strike.

Trout Fishing Setup

trout fishing setup

​Getting the most out of your trout fishing setup means matching your rod, reel and line to the types of lures you are casting and the kings of waters you will be fishing on most often.

For a beginner the huge amount of rod choices is often the most confusing as there are so many different configurations of rod power, action and length.

​Both brown and rainbow trout will be most commonly caught in small rivers, streams and even in stocked lakes or small mountain lakes that have feeder streams where trout can spawn.

The majority of these fish will be 4 lbs or under so you can size your trout setup correctly when targeting these fish.

Although 4 lbs or under might seem small to a musky or lake trout angler trout particularly wild brown trout pound for pound are very spirited little fish once hooked so you can have quite a bit of fun with them, and they taste pretty good too!

​Trout Fishing Setup

​The best trout fishing setup is a 6'6" ultralight spinning rod with a fast action and a size 2000 spinning reel with 6 lbs monofilament.

​1. Rod 

​The best trout rods will be roughly 6 to 7 feet in length with an ultralight power rating and a fast action.

Trout fishing is all about throwing small lures and bobbers/rigs so you need a rod that is rated for lines in the 2 to 6 lbs range.

A heavier rod will feel far to cumbersome and will loose any kind of sensitivity you may have in the rod tip.

A fast action means that the bend in the rod will start to form higher up on the rod blank towards the tip.

​A slow or more moderate action will start to bend in the middle of the rod.

Moderate action rods are less sensitive than fast action rods.

A fast action has a much softer tip which gives a lot more feedback from the lure or hook and it also allows you to set the hook quicker.

They are also more suitable for casting light lures a there is a bit more of a whipping action in the rod tip.

Rod length will depend on how big a river you are fishing.

For smaller rivers and streams a 6' rod is more than enough and it will make it easier to move around especially if there are a lot of trees on the river bank.

On larger rivers you may need a longer rod. The extra length helps with casting distance but also allows you to get the rod tip up higher and pick up line quicker when you strike.

​2. Reel

​Spinning reels are most definitely the preferred choice when fishing for trout as a baitcaster is generally only suitable for casting lures over a certain weight.

With a small spinning reel in the 1000 to 2500 size range you can cast much lighter lures as the line will fall off of the spool much easier than on a baitcaster.

A baitcaster needs a certain amount of weight to get the spool up to speed when casting.

With a spinning reel you can throw some very light lures on small weight lines.

Most fishing setups for trout will be on a size 2000 reel.

As with buying any trout fishing ​setup buying a high quality ​reel is always a better investment in the long run.

​3. Line

For trout monofilament is usually the number one choice. It's cheap pretty see through and knots easily.

It is also fairly durable so it can take quite a few bumps and scrapes off of the bottom before needing to be replaced.

Fluorocarbon is another good choice particularly if you are using small jigs and need to set the hook quickly as it has a lot less stretch than money.

​Braid is not that usable in really small weights as it is so thin that it can bed down into the previous layers of line on your spool.

​This bedding in can result in poor casting performance and occasionally in a snapped line. It is also very prone to wind knots.

​Regardless of whether you choose mono or fluorocarbon line in the 2 to 6 lbs range will be best for small stream trout although on really large rivers you may need to go as high as 8lbs.

The best trout fishing setups will generally use monfilament as their go to line of choice.

Trout Fishing Gear & Tackle

Trout Fishing Gear

​As a beginner trout angler you might be surprised by just how light most trout fishing gear and tackle really is.

If you are coming from the bass or musky fishing world then chances are you are used to heavy power rated rods and big baitcasters spooled with braided fishing line.

​Trout on the other hand need a somewhat gentler touch and the tackle needs to match their size and the lighter lures you will be using.

Most trout fishing will fall into the ultralight category i.e gear that is rated for line in the 2 to 6 lbs range.

Rods need to be light and precise and reels need to be small and light to keep the rod perfectly balanced for casting.

Ideally you would be looking at the following type of setup all of which are within certain ranges:

  • Rod - between 6 and 7 feet in length with an ultralight power rating and a fast action
  • Reel - size 1000 to 2500 spinning reel.
  • Line - monofilament fishing line in the 2 to 6 lbs range.

On really small streams when targeting brook trout or small wild brown trout you can use the lower end of the range for the above, for larger rivers and bigger fish use the upper end of the specifications.

Trout Fishing Gear

1. Rod

The best trout spinning rod will generally be a spinning rod and not a casting rod. A casting rod does not fair to well with very light lures as the reel needs a decent amount of weight to get the spool running up to speed.

Look for an ultralight power rated rod with a fast action.

​An ultralight rod should be rated for line in the 2 to 6 lbs range. These lighter rods are extremely sensitive and coupled with a fast action will give you a lot of feedback through the tip.

​A fast action rod blank bends in the upper one third of the rod towards the rod tip. This means better sensitivity and a much quicker hook set.

Most beginners fishing rods will be okay but after a while you might want to upgrade to a more specialist rod.

​2. Reel

Spinning reels are the top choice for fishing with smaller lures as they can cast smaller weights with much more ease than a baitcasting reel.

A size 1000 up to a size 2500 spinning is what should be paired with the rod described above.

They should hold enough line for most trout waters.

A high quality drag and reel housing is important for almost any reel but for such light lines the lip on the spool is one of the most important features as it will have a big impact on how well you can cast small lures.

​3. Line

The number one choice as a fishing line for trout has always been and probably will always be monofilament fishing line.

Mono is cheap pretty low viz and can take a few knocks and scrapes. It also knots quite well particularly if you are a beginner.

Fluorocarbon is a good second choice as it has pretty much all the same attributes as mono apart from the fact that it has a much lower in built stretch.

If you are jigging then fluoro makes a lot of sense as you do not want much stretch or delay in the system.

Braid is just too visible and does not fair well when worked over rocky bottoms as the individual strand can fray quite easily.

​4. Lures

The majority of trout lures will be small spinners, spoons and Rapala like small baitfish imitators.

Spinners are probably the most popular trout lures that are in sue today and they really haven't changed all of that much over the past 50 years and the same can be said for spoons too.

​Rapala style lures can be extremely effective and on certain waters out-fish any spinner on the right day. 

​5. Hooks

Depending on your particular trout fishing setup how you rig your bait can have a big impact on what style and size of hooks that you use when fishing with bait.

Single hooks are preferred although some anglers will use treble hooks when using something like Powerbait.

If you are planning on releasing your catch and not keeping them then please use a barbless hook as it lessens the chance of gut hooking the trout.

​6. Net

Although a net is not a requirement if you are practicing catch and release then a modern rubber meshed landing net is a good idea as it allows you to de-hook the trout safely and easily without too much handling involved.

Older style knotted string mesh nets unfortunately will end up scrapping the slime off of the scales and skin of a small trout. That slime is a protective barrier that helps reduce infections in the trout so these types of nets can do more harm than good.

If you have to handle a trout then please do so with wet hands that are clean. Dry hands will remove the slime so simply wetting them can make a massive difference.

As we have seen trout fishing gear and tackle is quite light and in essence very simple.

Types of Crankbaits and the Differences Between Them

types of crankbaits

For most anglers a crankbait is a crankbait and they pay very little attention to the different types of crankbaits and how and when you should be using them.

Crankbaits are one of the most effective lures an angler can have in his arsenal.

They can produce a bite at any time of the year when used properly and fishermen who understand the differences and advantages of each type of crankbait can have much greater success than others.

However, crankbait fishing for bass is not as simple as just throwing a lure out and winding it back in. Understanding each type of crankbait and just when and where it will work is key to having success with these specific lures that other anglers might overlook.

Choosing the right crankbait rod is also important as they tend to fish better when using a more moderate action rather than a fast one.

One of the biggest advantages to using crankbaits is that anglers can cover large expanses of water. Crankbaits also allow fishermen to explore variable depths to target fish at a specific location.

Crankbaits are produced in every kind of shape, size and color you can imagine, but we want to take a closer look at 5 of the most commonly-used crankbaits in order to help anglers better understand the differences in each type, and also to know when and where to use them to fill their bag. 

Types of Crankbaits

1. Lipless Crankbaits

One of the most versatile kinds of crankbaits on the market today are lipless crankbaits. While they are also known as “rattle traps” or other nicknames, lipless crankbaits do not feature the standard bill or lip on the front of the lure which usually manipulates the natural buoyancy of the bait.

The lack of this lip allows this lure to be fished at just about any depth you want, which can be accomplished by letting it sink to the desired level.

A lipless crankbait will produce a telltale “wobble” when retrieved and the faster an angler reels the bait in, the more rapid your crankbait will wobble back and forth.

This “wobble” is one of the main reasons fish are attracted to a lipless crank. Most manufacturers will insert a weighted ball inside the lure to produce a methodical vibration that catches the attention of nearby game fish.

Anglers can vary their retrieve to be slow and steady, or quick and sporadic depending on what fish are inclined to bite based on a specific pattern. 

2. Deep Diving

A deep diving crankbait will normally have a larger, more pronounced bill which will cause the lure to “dive” to greater depths than it naturally would. Deep divers are great for targeting bass that hang out near ledges, mounds, drop offs, or deep channels.

After largemouth bass have spawned, many of them will generally return to the depths of their given lake or waterway to suspend at a comfortable depth and hunt for bait fish.

Since crankbaits mimic a bait fish like shad, it is very important to understand when and where bass will be searching for shad and how to replicate the natural activity of their prey.

During the hot summer months, bass can be found at depths of 20 feet or more.

A deep diving crankbait has the ability to reach the depth where larger bass are located and—depending on their preference of size, shape and color—can entice them to attack and bite the lure.

Be sure to cast beyond your target point to allow your deep diver to reach the desired depth before arriving to the point where you expect fish to be staging or holding to cover. 

3. Shallow Diving

Shallow diving crankbaits usually sport a much shorter lip than deep divers, and can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Shallow diving crankbaits can have a specifically rounded, or square bill that will keep them from venturing past a certain depth.

When the water temperature in the shallows cools to a certain degree, bass tend to rise from the depths and hunt for bait fish in the shallows around points and in coves.

While it may seem logical to avoid structure such as brush, stumps or other types of cover with a crankbait, seasoned anglers recommend trying to retrieve a shallow diver in such a way as to “bump” into stumps and other structures.

Doing so will usually cause a realistic-looking “flash” that has the same appearance as a bait fish swimming around cover.

Be sure to use a heavier line when throwing a shallow diving crankbait as you’ll likely be running into a good bit of stumps, limbs and other obstacles that can sometimes nick the line and create weak spots that can break. 

For a comparison of other shallow running lures check out our other article crankbaits vs jerkbaits.

4. Jointed Crankbaits

Jointed crankbaits, also known as “broken back” cranks, have at least one or more joints to create a more rapid action that causes the lure to give the illusion of moving more rapidly than it actually is.

Jointed crankbaits usually have a small lip, but some versions of this bait can be lipless. In the past decade, jointed baits have evolved into their own realm of new lures known as “swim baits.”

The most effective method of fishing a jointed crankbait is to employ a slow retrieve that will highlight the extra action of the crankbait.

Professional anglers report that jointed crankbaits usually provide a slight advantage in clear water because fish rely more on visuals for determining exactly what they’ll strike at.

Using a slow, steady retrieve with a jointed crankbait in an area that is heavily-fished can sometimes result in catching large bass that can spot a standard crankbait from a mile away. 

5. Suspending Crankbaits

Perhaps one of the most useful crankbaits on our list is the suspending crankbait. The main advantage of these kinds of lures is that your crankbait is held in the strike zone for a longer period of time without sinking or floating out of range.

Suspending crankbaits are specially designed to have neutral buoyancy and will remain at the given depth when an angler stops their retrieve.

This suspending crankbait is designed to give the appearance of a bait fish freezing in place in order to avoid detection from larger predators like largemouth bass and other game fish.

Many times, when a fish follows a suspending crankbait and notices that the lure “stops,” it will entice the fish to take advantage of what seems like unsuspecting prey and strike.

Suspending crankbaits can also be jerked erratically to simulate a bait fish darting through the water in an effort to avoid being eaten by larger fish.

Suspending crankbaits are a great choice for days when fish are sluggish or not in the mood to chase their prey very far. Most of the time, a fish will strike after you’ve paused your bait and begin to retrieve once again. 

Crankbait vs Jerkbait – Which is Better?

Crankbait vs Jerkbait

Take a look inside the tackle box of almost any angler and you’re likely to find a variety of crankbaits and jerkbaits. While these two lures probably appear to be very similar to the novice outdoorsman, they have some striking differences and unique advantages when used at the right time.

Crankbaits vs Jerkbaits what are the differences ?

Crankbaits have been around for more than 100 years. The first crankbait was invented around 1915, but the bait’s overall composition hasn’t changed much.

The jerkbait was first developed just a few decades later by legendary angler Lauri Rapala and has also remained largely the same as its early designs.

Both the jerkbait and the crankbait are crafted to mimic the appearance of bait fish, but there are some very specific differences that will often make one lure a great deal more effective than the other at any given time. Knowing how to take advantage of these differences means catching more fish. 

Crankbait vs Jerkbait

Crankbaits are short and stubby in shape while jerkbaits are generally long and slender. Both baits utilize the highly effective treble hook because fish are known to strike at these two kinds of lure from every angle.

Crankbaits are designed with two treble hooks while jerkbaits typically have three treble hooks that are slightly smaller than those found on cranks.

The two types of lures were originally made from balsa wood, but modern manufacturers have opted for a hard plastic construction that is more durable.

Running Depths

Decades ago, it was common knowledge that crankbaits were made to “dive” down into the depths and jerkbaits were usually considered a shallow water lure.

Advancements in designs have led companies to create different kinds of crankbaits for all depths, including models that will suspend at a given depth. Some jerkbaits are specially weighted to sink to the bottom before being retrieved.

Most jerkbaits will run more shallow than your usual crankbait simply because of its overall shape. Having an understanding of exactly how deep—or shallow—a lure will run is an important part of being able to properly use each type of bait.

Diving Bills or Lips

Jerkbaits are all designed with a shorter, smaller lip on the front of the lure while crankbaits feature a variety of different lip sizes and shapes. The small bill on a jerkbait is what allows the lure to have the telltale “darting” motion that sets it apart from other baits.

A crankbait’s appearance normally indicates how deep it will dive as a lure with a more downward-turning bill will cause the bait to swim down at a sharper angle.

Square bill crankbaits have become wildly popular in recent years and have some aspects that make them more desirable than the traditional round bill design, depending on a particular circumstance.

Round bill cranks will dive faster and swim straighter than square bills, making them ideal for deep water that lacks structure. Square billed crankbaits, however, have a more pronounced “wobble” and ability to move through cover without becoming snagged.

Hooks

The types of hooks on each kind of lure might seem insignificant, but each bait is specially designed with hooks at a specific point in order to provide proper balance.

Many anglers often swap out the standard stock hooks that come with most lures and rig them with better quality treble hooks. Be careful in doing this as the slightest deviation in hook weight can cause the lure’s overall action to be changed in both jerkbaits and crankbaits.

Tackle Differences

Unfortunately, you can’t just throw both crankbaits or jerkbaits on the same rod setup and produce ideal results. Seasoned anglers know that they need a specially rigged rod and reel setup for crankbaits, as well as another one geared to throw jerkbaits. 

The most critical difference in rod selection for these two lures is to make sure you’re using a fast-action rod for jerkbaits and a heavier crankbait rod. Having a faster action rod is crucial to producing the right amount of twitching or darting motion that makes jerkbaits so effective.

Having the right kind of fishing line is also a major component to properly using each kind of lure.

Monofilament is favored as a line for crankbaits because it allows for a slight amount of stretching in the line which helps create the smooth action you want, especially deep down.

Stretching will have the opposite effect on jerkbaits because it will lessen the lure’s ability to quickly change direction.

Fluorocarbon is more suited for jerkbaits and the line’s ability to blend in with the water is an added bonus when fishing in clear water. 

Crankbait or Jerkbait ?

Both crankbaits and jerkbaits have their own particular uses depending on the time of year and how active the fish are behaving.

Jerkbaits are always a solid choice during the colder months because the erratic, twitching motion can arouse a fish’s predatory instincts, even when they have become more sluggish due to the low water temperature.

Anglers can have success at any time of the year with a jerkbait, especially when using them to fish main lakes and secondary points near rock bluffs or drop offs.

Crankbaits are ideal for deeper water in most cases and can attract bites during the cold or hot weather as fish will often take refuge in the depths of a given waterway. Square bill crankbaits are a great choice for crankbait fishing in conditions with water temperature above 50 degrees.

The key for getting the most out of your crankbaits is using a lure that is certain to reach the bottom. The crankbait’s disruptive action along the bottom and ability to bounce away from structure are what really sets the lure apart.

Both crankbaits and jerkbaits are among the most productive lures available to anglers. Neither one has a clear edge on the other and the most successful fishermen know that true success comes from experimenting with and learning how, when and where to use each lure.