Cooch N Crankin
For me crankbaits are best suited for the early fall through wintertime. Fast moving reaction baits fished along chunky rock banks, draw many strikes from bass as they are up and feeding heavily preparing for, and building their winter body fat mass. As we move closer to winter time, bigger, fatter and deeper diving cranks, fished much slower, tend to produce very well, especially on our foothill lakes out here in the west.
As with all my fishing, I try to keep my color choices simple. There are a wide variety of patterns available to bass fisherman today, and having too many choices in the boat can cause confusion, doubt and lead to many wasted casts trying to find the right color. Presentation, location and confidence are the key for me when using a crank bait. It’s a reaction lure, and feel I can trigger strikes with the three colors that are common through out my box. Most often, I prefer to use a Texas Red Craw pattern. This is my confidence color pattern, especially around rocks when the bass are up there rooting craws. Yet in clear cold conditions, a solid white or bone crank is my choice. Many lakes and bodies of water through out the state maintain a good population of shad like bait fish, this bait matches the food source most of the time. Last is my foul weather crank color pattern, the chartreuse with dark black or blue back and a small splotch of orange underbelly. When the weather is nasty, and the water is rockin and rollin, I don’t hesitate to start chucking this color. And very last, is a variety of chrome colors with either a blue or black back.
I recognize four types of crank baits, that I use during this period of time. The rock digging, structure banging types with a narrow plastic bill. Of these types, the 7A Bomber is my first choice. It digs and bangs with the best of em, and is a staple for us Delta River fisherman. The small wide lipped cranks are great for fishing the grass beds or through and around pockets of grass. Both the Timber Tiger and a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap fit the bill here. These baits entice those fish that are suspending and hangin in the vegetation. During the winter, I’ll opt for a lipless crank. This is the only time I’ll use the chrome colors mentioned above. This bait to is very effective around vegetation when the water temps have dropped below 60 degrees. Both the Bill Lewis Rattle Trap and the Mann’s BB Shad fill up my lipless box. And last, the big, fat bodied, heavy wobbling deep divers. These are cranks that will run 10-16 feet with a big spoon like bill. My favorite is a Bagley’s DB III in chartreuse with a black back. I’ve had some of the most phenomenal days crankin in December through February on our lakes with this bait. My deep box is filled out with a variety of Deep Norman and Poe Plugs.
As far as terminal tackle, all my cranking is done on a fiberglass rod. I have three, one is an E-glass, the other two are S-glass rods. All three are custom build using Lamiglass blanks. Two of them are 6’6” 4 power and one of the S-glass rods is a 7’ 5 power for the big cranks. For effective crankin, ya gotta have a rod that has a whole bunch of give in the tip. Yet, when teamed up with 16# Sugoi Fluorocarbon line, this set up has enough backbone and strength to load up the rod fast and burry those trebles with out much of a hook set. More often than not when I git bit, it’s a sharp jerk and reel em to the boat. Replacing your factory hooks is another must with most crankbaits. These baits are massed produced, and in an effort to reduce cost, most manufacturers are not using super quality treble hooks. I also religiously use a snap, whether the bait comes with an “O” ring tie or not. This not only allows for easy changing of baits, but it allows the bait to run more freely, generating a little better action versus tying your line directly to the bait. As for knots, a barrel cinch knot does the trick for me.
The key with crankin, as with any other technique, is to keep that bait in the strike zone, listen to the fish and develop confidence in what, when and where your tossing it. Some refer to this as the “dummy bait,” anybody can toss it. For me, I call it a “money bait,” it has put a lot of quality fish in my well on tournament days when nothing else did. Look over your BASSMaster magazines of years past, look at the tournament results and notes, crankin simply puts fish in the boat. You’d be a “dummy”, not to have one tied on at all times!