Crank up Your Bass Fishing Success: Tips and Techniques for Using Crankbaits

Fishing Gear

In some fishing circles, the crankbait is seen as a problematic lure due to its many hooks, which increases the chances of snagging. However, the crankbait can be the most effective tool in your tackle box, with the ability to trigger fish that other lures cannot. With a wide range of sizes, colors, depths, and actions, it can be used in 2 feet of cold water or 25 feet of warm water. Therefore, learning how to fish a crankbait is essential for bass anglers.

Expert crankbait anglers often catch more bass, particularly larger ones, by using many different types of crankbaits in their tackle bag. A hard-charging, wide-wobbling, deep-diving crankbait is particularly effective for stirring up the biggest bass in a school. The key to choosing the right crankbait is understanding what each kind does and its intended use, and applying them where it makes sense.

Crankbaits can be categorized into square bills, finesse shad cranks, flat side cranks, medium runners, deep divers, and lipless cranks. Some finesse shad cranks are shallow while others are medium diving, and some medium runners are also flat sides, so there is some crossover between categories.

Most lipped crankbaits will float when paused or suspend and slowly rise. Lipped crankbaits can be shallow, medium, or deep diving in design. It’s best to use shallow cranks in shallow water and deep cranks in deep water to prevent wear and snagging.

Shallow crankbaits run from 0 to 5 feet, medium runners from 5 to 10 feet, and deep divers deeper than 10 feet. Square bills, flat sides, and finesse shad crankbaits are typically shallow runners, with some exceptions that can reach 5-9 feet. Flat sided crankbaits and finesse shad crankbaits tend to wiggle more than wobble and work well at slow speeds and in cold water. Round-bodied crankbaits, especially those with square bills, are more snagless and have wider wobbles, making them better for warm water.

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Crank up Your Bass Fishing Success: Tips and Techniques for Using Crankbaits

For most crankbait fishing, a medium power baitcasting rod with a parabolic taper and moderate action around 7 feet in length will handle most needs. A medium-light rod with a faster tip is great for shallow cranks and square bills target casted to shallow banks, rocks, and wood cover. For heavier deep diving crankbaits, a heavier power and longer rod is best. A lower gear ratio baitcaster reel is preferred to take some of the torque out of the hand and help fish the crankbait at an optimal speed. Generally, 8-12 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line is preferred.

Lipless crankbaits work well in larger areas like prespawn flats, large shallow scattered grass beds, backs of creeks and bays in the fall. They are useful when bass are foraging in larger areas on crawfish and baitfish. They excel in covering water and getting fish to react in cleaner water.

Tips for Fishing with Crankbaits

Match the color of the crankbait to the water conditions. Use natural colors in clear water and brighter colors in stained water or low light conditions.

Vary the retrieve speed to see what the fish respond to. Sometimes a slow retrieve with a lot of pauses is best, while other times a steady retrieve works better.

Use the right crankbait for the depth you are fishing. Shallow crankbaits for shallow water, medium runners for mid-depths, and deep divers for deeper water.

Pay attention to the action of the crankbait. Different crankbaits have different actions, so try to match the action to what the fish are responding to.

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Crank up Your Bass Fishing Success: Tips and Techniques for Using Crankbaits

When fishing in cover or around structure, choose a crankbait with a square bill or a lipless crankbait. These types of crankbaits are more snag-resistant and can be fished effectively in these areas.

Experiment with different types of crankbaits to see what works best in different situations. Don’t be afraid to try new colors, sizes, and styles to see what the fish are biting on.

Use a slow, steady retrieve when fishing in cold water. Crankbaits can still be effective in cold water, but the fish may be less active and require a slower presentation.

When fishing deep water, use a long, slow retrieve to get the crankbait down to the desired depth. Let the crankbait hit the bottom and then start your retrieve.

Pay attention to the sound of the crankbait. Some crankbaits make a louder noise than others, and this can be effective in attracting fish in certain situations.

Keep your hooks sharp and replace them as needed. A dull hook can cost you a fish, so it’s important to keep your hooks in good condition.

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