A PRIMER ON CRANKBAITS   Leave a comment

Selecting and using a crankbait takes a little thought.  Many anglers find the use of crankbaits too complicated and tend to use only a few of their favorites. 

In the tackle stores one can find countless types and colors of crankbaits.  There are the bright colored ones, the baitfish colored ones, those with bills of varying sizes and those without any bill.  The manufacturers all make good baits but their does not seem to be one company that is the leader with all the answers.  Take a look at the bait boxes of the pros and you become even more confused.  They all have a variety of crankbaits. 

I once had the opportunity too look into the storage area of Brent Chapman’s bass boat.  There were a number of plastic boxes containing countless types of crankbaits.  That spawned a conversation with the pro angler. 

Chapman has turned his knowledge of bass fishing and crankbaits into over $400,000 in career winnings on the BASS and FLW tournament trail.  I asked him to explain the basic theory of crankbait selection and use for this layman. 

“As far as what crankbait to run when,” said Brent, “the selection is dependant upon what depth the fish are being found.”  Bass may be in 2 foot of water or 20 foot of water.  In order to choose a crankbait, Chapman maintains that one has to have some idea of where the fish are located. 

If the fish are shallow, then a shallow running crankbait is needed.  If they are deep then a crankbait with a bigger bill is required to make the bait run deeper.

Chapman has found that a shallow running crankbait is often better for fish that are not aggressive enough to take a spinnerbait.  “The spinnerbait does not look realistic as does a crankbait,” states the pro.  He maintains that the crankbait will fool those fish when they are a little more finicky. 

Brent does not trim the bill of a crankbait as do some pros.  They trim it to make the crank bait run shallower.  “If I feel I want a bait to run shallower,” says Chapman, “I will just switch up to something with a smaller bill on it.”  Crankbaits can be found that will run from a depth of six inches to those that go 20 foot deep. 

A crankbait that will run straight is important to Brent.  “It means that you are getting its maximum depth and best action,” he asserts.  However he also points out that one can detune a crankbait if he is fishing along a dock and wants the bait to run underneath it.  It is possible to tune the crankbait to run to the side.  But, for 99% of the time one wants the bait to run straight. 

The physical toll that crankbait fishing takes on the angler is also a problem.  Many anglers are just so turned off by losing fish and just being worn out fishing a deep diving crankbait. 

Chapman always uses a fiberglass rod for crankbait fishing.  He declines to use graphite or titanium rods for this type of fishing.  Brent uses a 7-foot cranking rod for deep running baits and a six and one half foot version for smaller crankbaits and under tighter conditions.  He likes the flexible tip of the rod that absorbs a lot of the pull when retrieving.  “If you are using a really stiff rod, that pull is going to be absorbed somewhere and it is usually in your arms,” proclaims the pro.  He maintains that is what wears you out. 

Brent also spurns the 6.3 to l gear ratio on his reels.  People think he is just fishing slower.  But, actually he will take a crankbait, put it on a 5.2 to 1 gear ratio reel.  He maintains that he can really feel the difference.  The difference is that the torque is going to be dispersed right into the arms and wrists and that is what really wears people out. 

To really learn crankbait fishing, Chapman recommends going to a lake that has good crankbait potential.  Take every thing out of the boat except that bait and equipment related to crankbait fishing.  It will force you to learn the techniques necessary if you do not have any alternative equipment available.  It helps you overcome the urge to catch a fish at all costs.  It forces you to go out and figure out how to make the crankbait work to catch some fish. 

He describes a good crankbait lake as one that is deeper with ledges or a perhaps a good drop-off.  Another good crankbait lake will contain some type of distinct cover where you can work that crankbait over it. 

Crankbait fishing may not be the easiest pattern to learn, but is a great tool than will be very productive once you learn how to use it.

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