Beginner’s Guide to Crankbaits

Add a new weapon to your tackle box arsenal during the summer. This comprehensive guide includes 10 of the most … Continued

Creature Crankbaits

APPLICATION: For bass (especially smallmouths) in streams, ponds and lake margins. clear water, 50″”70 degrees BEST COLORS:crayfish, shad, natural INSIDE TIP: Try twitching floaters such as grasshoppers and frogs on top during the summer, when bass are hunting for surface prey. These are lightweight crankbaits designed to closely resemble natural game-fish forage, including crayfish, minnows, frogs and even tadpoles and hellgrammites. they dive 1 to 3 feet under the surface and exhibit a frantic wobbling action on retrieve. Typically, creature crankbaits are fished on ultralight spinning gear in streams, ponds and the margins of natural lakes and reservoirs for largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as bluegills and crappies.

Deep Divers

APPLICATION: For bass 10 to 20 feet deep on offshore reservoir structure. Water clear to stained, 70″”90 degrees BEST COLORS: Shad, chartreuse, citrus shad, fire tiger, red, bone white INSIDE TIP:Bounce the lure off isolated wood or rock cover on the retrieve. These are favored for probing deep structures such as points, humps, channel drop-offs and standing timber lining creek channels. The elongated lip causes the lure to dive to about 20 feet and helps it deflect off obstacles. Large deep-divers weighing 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 ounces can be cast long distances, allowing them to reach their maximum depth potential. Deep divers are most effective from post-spawn through the fall in lakes with large concentrations of baitfish.

Flat-Sided Divers

APPLICATION: For bass in shallow wood or rock cover in impoundments where shad are the primary forage. Water stained to murky, 50″”70 degrees BEST COLORS: Bone white, shad, citrus shad, chartreuse, fire tiger INSIDE TIP:Retrieve with short rips through brushy cover. Similar to traditional medium runners and deep-divers, flat-sided divers are considerably thinner and have flat sides that produce a tighter wiggle. They’re usually made of wood and are a good choice for probing brushy wood cover in 3 to 5 feet of water. Why this style of crankbait often works better than models with rounder body shapes is a matter of conjecture. Flat-sided divers are similar in vibration to lipless crankbaits, except without the rattles.

Lipless Crankbaits

APPLICATION: Ideal for bass on shallow flats and points with scattered wood in spring (water murky, 45″”65 degrees), tops of submerged grass beds in summer (water clear, 75″”90 degrees) BEST COLORS: Silver, gold, red INSIDE TIP:Rip a lipless crankbait through sparse grass in late spring or early summer to trigger reaction strikes from big bass. These are the noise and vibration champs. designed for probing shallow flats and the tops of thick weed beds, a lipless crankbait has a thin body, flat sides, pointed nose, no lip, a top-mounted line-tie and metal shot inside the body that produce a steady rattle on retrieve. they’re a great choice where or when bass can’t home in on a lure visually. they also can be fished vertically as drop baits for schooling bass in summer.

Medium Divers

APPLICATION: For bass around scattered wood or rock cover. Water stained to murky, 48″”75 degrees BEST COLORS: Shad, fire tiger, crayfish INSIDE TIP:Use a square-lipped bait and deflect it off shallow cover such as blowdowns or the trunks of standing timber. Currently a hot ticket among pro tournament bass fishermen, these crankbaits have shorter bills than deep divers and will run 3 to 8 feet deep when retrieved at standard speed. They’re used to probe shallow cover, especially stumps and laydown logs along shorelines, flats, river bars and points with a low trajectory. They’re more effective than deep divers in cold water””use them in pre-spawn, then again in late fall and, conditions permitting, winter.
APPLICATION: For walleyes, pike or muskies in rocky lakes and rivers. Water clear to stained, 40″”66 degrees BEST COLORS: Perch, bone white, shad INSIDE TIP:On retrieve, these lures tend to head straight down, which makes them a good pick when bass are holding right against deep banks. Metal-billed baits are among the earliest crankbait styles; today they’re more popular with walleye and muskie anglers than with bass fishermen. Many are capable of depths exceeding 20 feet, even deeper when trolled on a long line. The shiny metal bill suggests the flash of a baitfish, reflecting some light even in the deepest, murkiest water. It also creates an attractive clicking sound when the lure is retrieved against a rock or gravel bottom.

Suspending Crankbaits

For bass in deep structure in reservoirs, especially during cold fronts. water clear to stained, 55″”90 degrees BEST COLORS: shad, chartreuse, citrus shad, bone white INSIDE TIP:Use a stop-and-go retrieve for sluggish pre-spawn bass or fish that are suspended in cold water or near summer thermoclines. Most diving crankbaits rise slowly on a slack line; suspending crankbaits are weighted to be neutrally buoyant; that is, they neither sink nor float up when the retrieve is stopped. reel them down to the desired depth, then stop reeling and they’ll stay at that depth. neutrally buoyant crankbaits are most effective during the pre-spawn period, when bass are suspending in deep water adjacent to their shallow spawning grounds.

Walleye Crankbaits

APPLICATION: For walleyes or bass on flats, points, humps and deep submerged grass beds. clear to stained water, 45″”80 degrees BEST COLORS:perch, shad, gold, fire tiger INSIDE TIP: Walleye cranks are good for bass in highly pressured lakes because they present a different “look” from standard bass crankbaits. These long-billed lures usually have elongated bodies to resemble the pelagic baitfish such as ciscoes, alewives and perch that walleyes generally feed upon. walleye anglers primarily troll these crankbaits, but their slender, wind-resistant bodies allow them to be cast long distances, too. They’re effective down to 15 to 20 feet. though technically considered lipless crankbaits, classic bass/walleye favorites such as the flatfish and the lazy ike can be included in this family.

Best Colors

A nice color for bass, walleyes, pike and muskies. A yellow perch imposter, but suggests other sunfish as well.

Best Colors

Silver or Gold
Suggestive of shad, these are the most popular colors. Best in clear water on sunny days.

Best Colors

Bone White
A good basic baitfish pattern for slightly stained to murky water under overcast skies.

Best Colors

Rainbow Trout
Mimics the colors of a favorite forage in lakes and rivers where bass share the water with trout.

Best Colors

Often features brown or dark green for the base color, with cream belly. A favorite for spring bass.

Best Colors

Fire Tiger
A jazzed-up chartreuse. Great around shallow cover for bass, walleyes, northern pike and muskies.

Best Colors

Fire Tiger
A jazzed-up chartreuse. Great around shallow cover for bass, walleyes, northern pike and muskies.

Add a new weapon to your tackle box arsenal during the summer. This comprehensive guide includes 10 of the most popular models, inside tips, plus six colors that you must have. Enjoy.