Pop Quiz: Which of these lures are crankbaits?
Ok, so you don’t have to be a Pro angler to answer this one 🙂
Now that you’re warmed up and the juices are flowing.
In this post, I’m going to give you a simple “cheat sheet” for crankbait fishing success.
After all, crankbaits are a very dependable lure, one that you cant go fishing without!
Studies have shown that crankbaits are one of the most popular lures being fished today.
That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
It’s good because they flat out catch fish in so many situations – no wonder there are so many of them out there!
But, there’s a catch…
…the huge variety of sizes, colors and shapes can be overwhelming…to even seasoned anglers.
They’re also confusing, misunderstood, usually fished in a way that doesn’t maximize their potential.
Fish it wrong, and you’re dead in the water.
Key Success Factors In Crankbait Fishing
Running Depth Is The Most Important Success Factor In Crankbait Fishing.
Why is that? Simple. The key to productive crankbait fishing is to keep it hitting something.
Make sure you’re bouncing your crankbait off logs, weeds, or the bottom. More often than not, that’s what will trigger a bass to strike.
A crankbait running in the middle of the water column isn’t appealing for a bass to strike.
Why is that?
A predator fish like a bass doesn’t want to waste energy chasing something, it wants an easy meal!
When you create an erradict retrieve, either by hitting off structure and cover or by burning the bait very quickly….
It mimics a dead or dying baitfish, and that’s an easy meal that a bass wants to take advantage of!
Check out this extremely productive tip involving this principle, that I call Kicking Up Dust…
– In situations where you have little to no cover to target, what you want to do is make your crankbait deflect off of the bare bottom.
– In this diagram you see a common form of bare bottom, a clay lake bottom.
– This specific technique works great around….
- Mud bottoms
It is essential in this technique that you reel as fast as possible. The idea is to continually make contact with the bottom. Each time your crankbait touches the bottom, a “puff” of dirt or debris gets kicked up. That’s the bass’s strike trigger. Plus, often times, the faster you retrieve the lure, the harder it deflects, and the more erratic the retrieve.
Ok, so getting the right depth is key, but what determines the depth your crankbait will dive?
There are several factors, but by far 1 factor is more important than the rest…
The crankbaits’ Bill.
Successful Crankbait Fishing Start With The Bill
– There are 3 key things to keep in mind with your crankbait bill:
Key #1: The Bigger (and wider) The Bill, The Deeper The Running Depth.
The crankbait on the right will dive deeper than the one on the left. A bigger bill will catch more water and dive deeper.
Key #2: A Downward Bill Angle Will Cause A Shallow Running Depth
You might think that an angled down bill would catch more water and dive deeper. Actually the opposite is true. The bait at the top of the image above is known as a wake bait. It can’t diver much deeper than a foot, even with a really hard retrieve. Bottom line: the flatter the bill, the deeper the dive.
Key #3: Fish A Thin Bill; It’ll Dive Deeper And Get Thru The Water Easier
Check out the “computer chip” bill above. It’s going to have a real subtle action. Even though it’s a small bill, it’ll get down to 4-6 foot of water with a good long cast.
What’s key here, is you can have a small profiled lure with a subtle action in a depth many other crankbaits of a similar size cant go.
Because of this , you’re showing the bass something different than what other anglers are showing them.
This results in more catching rather than just fishing!
The crankbait below has got a thin bill, and also a weird shape on the bottom. This weirdness creates an interesting action, gets deeper and cuts thru the water easier.
My Absolute Favorite Crankbait Tip
My favorite method is the stop and go technique. This is a deadly method for attracting big bass.
With most crankbaits, when you stop them, they will float back toward the surface. Then when you start retrieving the lure again its starts diving back to the bottom.
Make sure you get a good long cast, and stagger your retrieve as show below.
The pause in your retrieve will cause big, lazy bass to attack on instinct. Most of your bites will occur as the crankbait floats back up from its contact point at the bottom.
Remember – running depth here is key. Pull this off correctly and you’re likely to see a noticeable surge in bites from large bass.
Note: The stop and go retrieve can be used when fishing heavy cover, sparse cover and structure, and even on bare banks as mentioned above.
Here is a summary of the key points to keep in mind. Remember to use these tips out on the water – why not today!
- Running Depth is the most important success factor in crankbait fishing.
- Running depth is so important because, more often than not, bouncing your bait off of something – logs, weeds, or the bottom – is what will trigger a bass to strike.
- The most important factor in running depth is your crankbait’s bill.
- Find cover, such as dock pilings, logs, laydowns, rocks, and weeds to bang and bounce your crankbait off of.
- When you cant find cover or structure, use the Kicking Up Dust technique: reel as fast as possible, continually making contact with the bottom. Each “puff” of dirt from the bottom will be a trigger for a bass to strike.
- Use the Stop And Go technique: stopping your retrieve will inspire BIG, lazy bass to bite.