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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.