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The Crankbait Trilogy, Part 2 – Making the Most of Your Crankbaits

As crankbaits are among the most popular hard baits around, chances are you’ve fished with them – probably with good results. Crankbaits are fairly easy to use: their bodies and diving lips are designed to bring forth a delicious swimming action, even on a steady retrieve. But to make the most out of your crankbaits, you’ll want to have the right gear for the job. In the second installation of our Crankbait Trilogy, we’ll be going into the gear best suited for crankbaits. And to make it even better, we’ll also be looking into some tips on how to use the baits to uncover information about the waters. 

The Rod 

Crankbaits demand quite a lot from the gear due to all the water they displace. When fishing with a crankbait, you can feel the lure pulling the line. The vibrations can often be felt in your wrist, especially when using a stiff rod. For crankbaits, I’d recommend using a 7 feet (2.1 in meters) rod with a fairly flexible medium action. This flexibility comes to play when fighting the fish – for instance, perch and black bass have delicate and fragile mouths. When using a rod with a too fast action, you run the risk of some of the fish breaking loose. 

The Reel 

With crankbaits, both spinning reels and baitcasters are well-suited for the task. Personally, I prefer to use baitcasters with a rather slow ratio. If you have the option of having several rods with you, you can use a diverse setup for the best results. A reel with the ratio of 5:1 for deep-diving lures, a slightly faster 5.2:1 reel for medium-deep lures, and a 6:1 reel for rapidly scouting the area. 

The Line 

When fishing with a crankbait, there’s a lot on the line (get it?) – so you’ll want to have a line dense enough. Why dense? Because dense lines sink fast, allowing the crankbait to reach the target depth fast. For these purposes, I recommend using a 100 % fluorocarbon line, such as Sufix Advance FC. It’s a line with great abrasion resistance, making it an excellent choice when fishing near underwater structure. Furthermore, the elasticity of fluorocarbon reduces the chances of losing your fish. For the line’s rating, 10 to 12 lbs will do perfectly. When scanning shallower areas with a lot of submerged wood and rocks, you can use a stronger line for less abrasion. However, when fishing in areas with a lot of vegetation, my vote goes to braid. While braid’s lack of elasticity can result in some unhooked fish, the line’s robust composition allows for cutting through the vegetation.

Crankbait – a Sonar for the Angler 

In the hands of an experienced angler, crankbaits can be used to gather valuable information on what’s lying underneath the surface. Remember when I mentioned that you can actually feel the crankbait when you’re retrieving it? Let’s dig into that. Think of the crankbait as a type of sonar, a beacon that transmits intel from the unseen. The depth of the water, the nature of the substrate, the presence of underwater obstacles and vegetation – it’s all there.  

Here’s a couple of examples. As soon as the crankbait’s diving lip hits the bottom, you’ll feel that information vibrating through the line into your wrist. With experience, you’ll quickly use that information to determine if the bottom is soft or hard. And you can turn that information to gain an edge: if you’re fishing in a spot with a soft bottom, you can bounce the lure against the bottom. This raises sediment and mimics a fish feeding on the bottom. And when casting with a lure that dives, for instance, to 2 meters and you feel the bait hitting the bottom, you’ll know that the water’s depth is less than two meters. There are many other things you can use to your advantage. For example, predators love to roam near underwater obstacles. When you feel your crankbait hitting an obstacle, you might want to try that again. Bouncing against obstacles, rocks, and underwater structure creates sound and, at times, a cloud of sediment. And this, of course, drives the predators wild! 

So, here’s the takeaway: when fishing with a crankbait, pay attention to how the lure acts and how it feels. Approach each cast with an open mind and think of them as an opportunity to learn more about the waters you’re fishing in. Change your lures and techniques according to how the baits behave. Adapt. For an angler eager to learn, the crankbait can be a formidable tool for exploring what’s below the surface! 

Hope you’ve found this useful. In the next (and final) part of the Crankbait Trilogy, we’ll be looking into the whens and wheres of fishing with crankbaits. Stay tuned and keep ‘em lines tight!