My line cuts through the water on this warm summer eve. I crank three of four times on the bait cast reel then pause. Three or four more cranks and another pause. I jerk to the right and then to the left before beginning the scenario again.

From a nutritional standpoint, crayfish is probably the best food source for the bass. That is probably why it is the most popular forage. They also feed on shad and bluegills.

Probably the most versatile and least understood weapon in a tackle box is the crankbait. Often an imitation of crawfish, they are the next best thing to the real McCoy. They come in so many colors, shapes and sizes that we just forget them in favor of something less complicated.  Sometimes we try to make them more complicated than need be.

There is just no time like the present to fish a crankbait. They are suitable for virtually any bass fishing situation. Crankbaits allow you to quickly cover a lot of water. The tendency is to make long casts. That is not necessary. Casts of 30 to 40 feet are just the ticket.

To those not sure what exactly makes up a crankbait, it is a hard wood or plastic buoyant lure that will dive and wobble. Most have two sets of treble hooks sometimes making lip grabbing of a bass a bit of a thrill. The depth at which the lure runs is directly related to the lip size on the front of the lure. Generally speaking, the bigger the lip, the deeper goes the bait. This can be varied by retrieving the lure slower or faster to get the desired depth.

Lipless crankbaits, such as the popular Rat-L-Trap, are meant to just retrieve with a steady and fast reeling of the line. This keeps it above any vegetation or structure and out of snags.

With all those hooks, one would suspect that snagging on underwater objects and vegetation would be a problem. Surprisingly enough that is not always the case. If you feel a heavy contact with an obstruction, quit reeling for a second or two. The bait will normally float upward enough to avoid getting hung up. Give it a little slack keeping aware that this is often the time when a fish will attack. They see it as a forage animal in distress and an easy meal.

Crankbaits come in an endless variety of colors. Most are designed to imitate a bait fish, usually shad, crawfish or bluegill.  Novices should start with a couple of shad color, bluegill color, or shad imitations.

Your rod can be fiberglass or graphite. Most of us find that the solid graphite is a bit to fast. A rod that is 70 percent fiberglass and 30 percent graphite seems about right. It should be light to medium action, depending upon the size of crankbait to be used. The 7-foot length rods are the most popular with the pros.

The reel can be either spinning or bait casting spooled with 10- to 12-pound test monofilament line. High visibility line is popular as it can be seen to tighten or move to the side.

The most important key to fishing crankbaits is finding the right size and color lure that will work best at the depth of the water in which you are fishing. Factors such as water clarity and color of lure are important but the depth is the key. Because crayfishes are seldom found deeper than 6 feet, the odds are better if you stay in shallow water.

A basic rule of thumb is the clearer the water the smaller should be the lure. A 1/8th ounce lure is fine for clear lakes and when fish are spawning. It will stay shallow and give off good vibration. For deep lakes, try 1/4 and 5/8 ounce with 3/4 and 7/8 ounce lure being the best on in stained water of big reservoirs.
Here is a final tip in fishing crankbaits in shallow water for bass. The main idea is to bump something with it. It might be the bottom, stumps, rocks, boat docks, logs, old pillars, or sunken boats. Bounce off of it, hesitate, and then hope for a strike.



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