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Crankbaits - excellent for locating Bass
Bob R. Myers - Pro Field Editor

Crankbaits are often thought of as a type of lure that you simply use if you don't know much about fishing. Most anglers use a crankbait sparingly and very few really understand the potential that this type of bait has for locating and catching not only numbers of fish, but also large bass.

While there is some truth to the statement, that novice anglers can catch bass on a crankbait just as well as a pro, anglers that really understand how and when to use a crankbait will fair much better than those that simply tie one on and hope for the best.

Although there are a variety of fish that can be caught on a cankbait here in Oklahoma, for the most part the crankbait is used for our most popular species, the black bass.

There are numerous styles of crankbaits available and basically, they can be divided into four groups shallow diving (3-5 feet), medium diving (5-10 feet), deep diving (10-15 feet), and deep-deep diving (15-25 feet).

The primary feature that tells how deep a crankbait will run is the length of the bill. Usually, short billed crankbaits are for shallow water, while deeper-running models have larger, longer bills. Also, deep diving crankbaits are usually bigger in size.

Crankbaits can be made of either plastic or wood, and come in about every imaginable color.

During the summer months, crankbaits can be effective when fished in deep channels and along ridges. Normally in the early spring and late fall, the best colors will imitate the crawfish, but during the summer, perch, crappie, and shad are the preferred forage for bass, and using crankbaits with these colors will greatly enhance your chances of finding and catching good numbers of bass.

When fishing muddy or stained water, use a brightly colored bait. Chartreuse, orange, fire-tiger, or even red helps fish locate your lures.

In clear water, use lighter line, make longer casts, and utilize lighter more natural colored lures. One of the best colors for clear water here in Oklahoma during the summer months, is a pearl/black back, which resembles a shad.

It seems to be common knowledge that crankbaits are effective when fished around rocky points, along underwater rocky ledges, and along rip-rap, but the crankbait can also be fished around stickups, stumpbeds, flooded bushes, willows, boathouses, and almost anything that offers cover for bass.

To obtain the best results from your crankbait, never tie it directly to your line without using a split ring or a snap.

Pay special attention to the hooks and keep them sharp and if need be replace one's that are bent or broken. I like the Mustad Triple Grip hooks which are standard on all Bandit Crankbaits. When I use hard jerkbaits such as a Rogue, Thunderstick, or Husky Jerk, I replace the factory treble hooks with the Mustad Triple Grip.

Use rods with a flexible tip so that you don't tear the lure out with a hard hook-set. Also a soft-tipped rod will allow the fish to make a hard run without the hooks tearing out. I prefer the G-Loomis Model CBR783 crankbait rod for throwing most small to medium size crankbaits.This 6' 6" rod is rated for line test from 8-14 pound and will handle light lures from 1/4 ounce, all the way up to a 5/8 ounce size. These rods are incredibly light, and super sensitive. If I use a deep diving crankbait, then I switch over to the G-Loomis Model CBR845 which is a 7' rod that will handle lures from 3/8 to 1-ounce in size.

Changing the speed of your retreive or changing from one type of lure to another can often trigger sluggish fish into striking. As with any type of bait, you must change colors and size or style to find out what the fish will hit.

There are numerous top brand crankbaits on the market, however, my favorite whether I am fishing for largemouth or smallmouth is the Bandit Crankbaits. They are available is several sizes and colors and I use their series 200 most of the time. This size crankbait runs from 4 - 8 feet and covers most of the crankbait water that I like to fish. If I want to go deeper I will switch over to the 300 series which runs from 8 - 12 feet. If you really like deep crankin they also have a 400 series that runs from 12 - 16 feet and for really deep crankin, their 600 series goes 20+ feet.

In the early spring, I like several of their crawdad colors and especially the chartreuse/ spring craw. When it's summertime, my favorite is the pearl/black back although I have done well on Oklahoma waters with the pearl/red eye or the Khaki colors. They also have a new rootbeer color on the market that works especially well in clear water and is a great color for smallmouth.

The secret of fishing a crankbait successfully is learning which one to use, what size, color, and speed of retreive.

Line size plays an important role in the depth that a crankbait can obtain. The heavier the line, the more resistance there is and therefore the shallower the lure will run. With lighter line there is less friction in the water. You would be suprised in the difference between 10-pound test line and 20-pound test line when fishing a crankbait.

A crankbait is also an effective tool for locating fish because you can cover a wide variety of water quickly and efficiently. Here in Oklahoma the wind frequently makes fishing a spinnerbait or even a worm virtually impossible. With a crankbait you can fish windy points, rip-rap, or standing timber that would be impossible to fish otherwise on a windy day.

Noted bass pro Roland Martin calls crankbaits saturation lures. "If the bass are feeding for only twenty minutes in the morning, you can make more casts and show a bait to more fish in that 20 minutes with a crankbait than any other lure. That's one of its biggest advantages", adds Martin.

With a little experimenting the crankbait can be used in almost every situation that you would use other types of baits.

Remember to practice catch-and-release.


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