How to fish crankbaits
Depth is the most important piece to figure out when fishing a crankbait. The longer and broader the bill of the crankbait the deeper the bait will swim. The smaller the bill the shallower. Learn the depth of the crankbait and compare it to the water you are fishing. Fishing a shallow running crankbait when the fish are holding does you no good and a deep running crank in shallow water will do nothing but hang your bait up.
Crankbaits to do their best work hitting or bouncing off of cover or the bottom cover structure surfaces of the body of water you are fishing. This could be the bottom of the lake or stream, off of wood, rocks, or just hitting the tops of weed beds and the like. Wounded fish will swim erratic and will hit stuff in the process of swimming. This bounce off cover retrieve tactic will mimic a wounded bait fish. When you find the depth that fish are holding at, focus in on that depth.
Lighter thinner fishing lines will also take crankbaits deeper and faster with reel retrieves. Heavier and thicker fishing lines tend to do just the opposite. Look up what the size line that the manufacturer recommends with the crankbait you are selecting. Larger heavier crankbaits tend to swim deeper than smaller and lighter ones. Keep this in mind when selecting your crank for the depth that you are targeting.
Casts and retrieves.
Crankbaits are great to use to find what water the fish are holding at. Cast and cover water, change out baits till you get a strike. Then focus your attention targeting that sweet spot depth. You should also consider practice casting.
You should plan to cast beyond where you are targeting your baits at. For example, if you charted or targeted fish holding at a sunken log near the lake bottom at 13 to 14 feet of water, you might consider selecting a 15’ diving crankbait and cast out 10 feet beyond where you think the fish are holding. It may take 10 feet of water of retrieving the crankbait to dive to its target depth. So throwing your bait 10 past the submerged log will improve your ability to maintain the crank at the correct depth where the fish are holding in longer, this is what we call the strike zone longer. Also keep in mind the last 10 feet of your retrieve isn’t going to catch fish either as you pull the bait shallow as you reel it in.
Practice fishing the bait and feeling what hitting the bottom feels like, what hitting rocks feels like, or wooded logs and stumps. Take the hooks off and cast and learn, or just the tail hook and practice. Put the hooks back on and pull it though grass and weed beds. Feel how the bait pulls and stops vibrating when it hooks and drags some grass. This feels like a bite when a bass picks up the lure and swims toward you with the bait.
Keeping it simple, clear water use natural looking and natural colored crankbaits that look to be close in color match to minnows in the area. Dark stained muddy water, use the bright and flashy cranks.
The Strike (The Bite)
If the fish are in heavy structure (often times they are) use heavier line and equipment (rod and reel) and try to force and pull hard the fish out of it as soon as he strikes, before it darts into obstacles thus hanging your line up and breaking off. The more open the water, take your time and finesse the fish, since the fish tend to hit a moving bait, they tend to hook set pretty well on their own and you don’t need to jerk hard on the pole to set it further, just pull and reel up fast to tack up any slack in your line and avoid the hard abrupt jerk on your fishing rod.
The take away here is depth, depth, depth. The other stuff helps and the journey forward is a lifetime of learning.
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