The first time I went to my local tackle shop to pick out a few crankbaits for my bass fishing arsenal, a million and one questions started swirling through my head. There were literally HUNDREDS of different sizes, different bills, different colors, some with rattles, some without rattles, some that would sink, and some that would float. How the heck would I weed through the myriad of shiny lures to find a handful that would work well for my fishing needs?
Below are a few simple tips that will help you decide which baits are going to work best given the area you plan to fish and the conditions:
- Keep in mind that the bigger the “lip” or “bill” (clear plastic piece on the front of the lure), the deeper the lure will dive. If you know you’ll be fishing deeper water (15 to 20 feet), look for a larger, rounded bill.
- If you plan to fish a shallower area with cover, try selecting a few medium or shallow running crankbaits with square-bills.
- Lipless quarter ounce crank baits are good to try when fishing shallow water (2 to 5 feet) because of the sounds and vibrations they put off.
- Do your best to balance try to balance line diameter with the depth you are fishing and the size of lure. Most lure manufacturers will include the line diameter and desired depth details right on the lure package.
- Do your best to “match the hatch.” When I’m fishing a freshwater lake system and I know bluegill are found in the lake, I try to select crankbaits in bluegill imitating colors. If I’m fishing an area where I’ve seen shad or shiners, then I select baits that resemble those types of prey.
- Pick metallic gold or chrome colors to fish on sunny days when the light can reflect off the lure and attract the fish, try white on cloudy days or when the water is muddy.
- Crankbaits with rattles are good to use when the water is a bit discolored or muddy. If the fish seem pressured or if the water is clear, try using a crankbait without a rattle.
You’ll find that crankbaits are a lot of fun to fish with due to their versatility. Stumps, timber, brush piles, ledges, docks or rock piles are all ideal places to test them out. Ideally, you want your crankbait bumping into some sort of structure or cover to create an erratic motion that causes a reaction strike from a bass.
And, I know it’s hard after spending cash on some new lures, but don’t be afraid to cast near cover for fear of getting hung up. You have to get your crankbait close to structure to catch the big ones. Once you’ve hooked a nice fish, then you can figure out how to get the lure out. That’s a good problem to have!
If you take kids or beginning anglers along on your bass fishing trips, you’ll want to keep some live bait on hand as well. You can show them how to lures and crankbaits once they’ve mastered the basics, but start easy and simple so that they experience a fair amount of action before you introduce artificial lures or crankbaits.