How To Use A Crankbait

Your Guide On How To Use A Crankbait

Photo courtesy of: Daniel Maryville

Why am I so inconsistent catching bass with my crankbait? I’ve been getting this question from friends and beginners for years. Unfortunately, there’s no one easy answer. I’ll usually have to ask a few follow-up questions of my own: What depths are you fishing? What equipment are you using? Are the water conditions you are fishing in clear or stained?

As you can imagine, these questions are often met with blank stares. Depth, equipment,and water condition isn’t information that most can rattle off the top of their heads. But the reality is that this information is vital to effective crankbait fishing. Knowing the importance of each is really the difference in finding success using crankbaits.

For someone like me who has been using crankbaits for years, I know it to be one of the most rewarding methods of bass fishing. And while it may seem unapproachable, it is relatively easy to pick up once you have the proper information to get started. I would love for you, and anybody who shows interest, to experience the joys of proper crankbait fishing. It is my hope that this step-by-step guide on how to use a crankbait allows you to do just that and begin to consistently land bass.

For someone like me who has been using crankbaits for years, I know it to be one of the most rewarding methods of bass fishing. And while it may seem unapproachable, it is relatively easy to pick up once you have the proper information to get started. I would love for you, and anybody who shows interest, to experience the joys of proper crankbait fishing. It is my hope that this step-by-step guide on how to use a crankbait allows you to do just that and begin to consistently land bass.

Equipment Necessary When Using a Crankbait

Hooks

Since most bait companies skimp on hook quality, this guide will include performing hook replacements. Personally, I suggest investing in some Gamakatsu hooks, as I find them to be affordable, heavy, sticky, and durable enough to use while crankbaiting. Use either the Gamakatsu Round Bends or the Gamakatsu EWG Trebles. Both are great options, but I prefer the Round Bends myself, as I’ve found them to be a little more durable.

Split Ring Pliers

These are essential to performing hook replacements in a timely manner. The best thing is that they are relatively cheap, going for about ten dollars a pair at Walmart. Trust me, you are going to want to pick some up.

Line

The importance of quality line while crankbaiting cannot be overstated. It is the line that allows crankbaits to reach their advertised depths. I would suggest using, especially for shallow and mid-depth baits, twelve pound Seagur Fluorocarbon line. The smaller diameter is perfect for allowing baits to reach their advertised depths.

Reel

A proper crank-reel is going to be costly, but they are essential to your success. If you are serious about crankbait fishing, I suggest investing in a Shimano Alderbaran MG model with a 5.8:1 gear ratio. The faster gear ratio is ideal for crankbaiting, as it allows you to cover large areas of water.

Rod

You’re going to need a rod with the backbone to handle decent-sized bass and crankbaits. The Cousins Tackle IM8 703PT model is a great option. The fast-action tip is soft enough to work the bait over hard-bottomed terrains, and it is powerful enough to hook fish, especially during colder months when fish’s mouths are tougher.

Baits

The types of crankbaits you will need depends on the depth, the season and the quality of water you will be fishing in. For this guide, we are going to focus on shallow and medium divers, as they offer the most versatile options for entry-level crankbait use. For shallow divers, I would suggest beginning with a shallow diver from Bass Smashers. For medium divers, I would suggest starting with an BSS187 medium diving crankbait from Bass Smashers. This is an inexpensive, yet versatile option that delivers great results.The Bass Smashers BSS515 medium diving minnow crankbait is another solid, affordable option.They offer of variety of different crankbaits, including wide wobble and slow moving crank baits. Personally, I use the BSS547 slow-moving shallow diver.

  • Pro Tip: Four-time Bassmaster Classic Winner, Kevin VanDam, suggests using natural-colored baits for clear-water fishing and bright-colored baits for stained or murky water.

Steps To Follow On How To Use A Crankbait

Step One: Select Your Crankbait According to Depth and Season

When beginning the process of crankbait fishing, your first step requires that you identify the proper crankbait for the depth you will be fishing in and the current season. For example, larger bass begin spawning preparation in the Spring season. This means that they will be occupying shallower depths, making a shallow-diving crankbait the best choice.

Fall is the premier season for using crankbaits, as baitfish are most active. You will want to cover as much water as possible, and a medium diver will be your most versatile option. Medium-diving crankbaits are most effective in the 8-12 ft. range, but they remain effective while crankbaiting shallower depths. Medium divers remain effective for those brave enough to tough it out through the winter months as well—just make sure to select a crankbait with tight wobbling actions.

When you gain experience crankbaiting with medium and shallow divers, summer is a great opportunity to practice using deep divers. A bass’s metabolism is at its highest during summer, so they are more likely to be triggered by any bait they see. However, you should get comfortable with medium and shallow depth crankbaiting before attempting deep-diving.

The following infographic, courtesy of Fix.com, offers a quick and accessible breakdown of different crankbaits and the depths they reach.

Step Two: Replace Stock Hooks

No matter what style crankbait you will be using, your next step will always be replacing stock hooks. Stock hooks are too flimsy to support the wait of the larger bass you will be targeting while crankbait fishing. Begin by placing your split-ring pliers in the split-ring of the stock hooks. Work the pliers in a circular motion until the stock hook is removed.Use the split-ring pliers to secure the crankbait’s split-ring as you work to attach there placement hook. Once you have secured the replacement hook on the split-ring, your crankbait is ready.

Check the video below by Joshua Taylor for a visual guide to hook replacements.

Step Three: Match Your Lines

Whether you choose to begin crankbaiting using a shallow or medium diver, line-weight is essential to success. Proper line-weight assures that your crankbait reaches its advertised depth. A twelve-pound line is a good choice for beginners, as it makes medium-diving easy to achieve.

The following infographic, courtesy of Fix.com, provides a complete guide of fishing-line characteristics.

  • Pro Tip: Professional Bass Angler Kevin VanDam believes fluorocarbon lines are the best overall choice for crankbait fishing.

Step Four: Choose Your Spot

Depending on the season, you will want to choose either a medium or shallow depth spot to fish. Shallow-depth spots—near banks and vegetation—are best fished during the spring, while fall is the best season for medium-depth crankbaiting. Chances are that you will be required to try out a few different spots to find a spot where bass are collecting.

Step Five: Practice Depth-Control

Before attempting to trigger any bass, make a few practice casts to practice your depth-control. Crankbait rods are traditionally long (around seven feet) because they must allow for versatile depth-control. You can modify the depth at which your crankbait lands during retrieval depending on how you position your rod.

For shallow diving, practice keeping your rod-tip up. For deeper diving, fish with your rod-tip down. For a visual demonstration, check out this video on Sportsman’s YouTube channel.

Step Six: Cast and Retrieve

Make a long cast and begin retrieving your line. Do not perform a straight-retrieve, allow your crankbait opportunities to fall, as bass are usually triggered to bite during the falling motion. To initiate falls during retrieves, sweep your rod to the side.

  • Pro Tip: Professional Angler Tom Redington suggests a “stop-and-go method” which involves performing a drag with your rod every six to ten reels.

Conclusion

Crankbait fishing takes some time to get used to; repeatedly practicing depth-control,casting, and retrieving is the best way to get a feel for it. Additionally, using the proper equipment for the depth, season, and water conditions you are fishing in is pivotal to proper crankbait use.

Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of crankbait use was one the decisive factors inigniting my passion for bass fishing. If you want to get the most enjoyment out of bass fishing, you must become familiar with how to properly use crankbait.

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