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NorthwestBasser

Only soft plastics?

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So I started bass fishing early summer this year. I always fished in my youth but lost interest through my twenties. 34 now and consider myself a beginner. I started going to a few different lakes that co-workers were catching fish on, I threw lots of crankbaits/squarbills and spinnerbaits to begin with and didn't get even a single strike. Swimjigs, nothing... hollowbody frogs earned me some awesome strikes and exciting blowups, but zero hookups. I tried everything. Then I learned how to dropshot and started catching some smaller largemouth, pound to pound and a half at most. after a few weeks of practice and patience the dropshot has paid huge dividends, I've now caught multiple quality fish, my best being just under 5lbs. which is a nice fish for my area, not a monster but something im personally proud of. Anyway, my issue is I REALLY WANT TO CATCH A FISH ON A CRANK BAIT or swimjig. any ideas why I can only seem to have any luck with soft plastics? I live and fish in Eastern Washington if that helps... 

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I would be happy if I could only fish soft plastics for the rest of my life. That being said I love fishing a swim jig, I usually just put a grub on the back and drag it through grass or along the bottom. You most likely just have more confidence in the drop shot than anything else (can't blame you) and therefore catch more fish with it. Crankbait I can't help you much other than reel it fast and erratically and bang it into things 

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  Is the water you fish extremely clear ? Crankbaits have been my top lure for the past few years  .  No secret , just try to make every cast count . No random casting . It could appear that I'm fishing open water or randomly casting at times but I am always targeting something . Cover  , structure  , fish or simply a depth .-

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I think you can use small plastic swimbaits and find the colors and sizes that work in your area.  I love the swimjig but have only been successful with the keitech trailers.  When I was fishing the kitsap area earlier this year the 4" shad impacts in ayu were getting bites and the 3" while drop shooting was getting me a mix of trout and bass.  I use a serbertoutdoors 1/4 or 3/8 swimjig in a color he made to match the ayu trailer.  It is also working well here in TN.  I was fishing the jig very slow in both states to get hookups, fast or burning it produced nothing.

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While I don't routinely toss a lot of hard stuff, I have caught a bunch of bass this year on a swim jig. I like a Zoom UV Speed Craw for the trailer. I haven't thrown anything not called a Ned Rig seriously since about May. 

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I usually rig up a paddletail as my trailer, mostly throw a jig that is bluegill in color, we don't have shad here in the pacnorthwest, at least that I know of. Just perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed etc... I have cranks in a variety of sizes, colorways, swim depths... My problem may be I can only identify cover/sstructure at the shore. so laydowns and overhangs are easy to find but if I go off shore, I'm in a kayak with no electronics, I'm just fishing blindly. and don't get me wrong, I love fishing even when I don't catch fish, I'm just trying to expand my skill set. which right now consists of dropshots and t-rigs.

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Yes water around here is clear, I have friends who catch em in crankbaits, spinners and frogs like I do finesse fishing, just wanna feel that reaction bait strike. I'm just not sure if I'm doing something wrong or in the wrong place. I'm joining a local bass club this coming spring and it's a draw format where non boaters get paired up with a boat, I'm really hoping fishing the season with different guys and watching and learning will help a ton. who knows though.

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If you have any vegetation in those lakes I would try fishing a 4" senko Texas rigged, or any senko type bait.  I have caught bass all over the country on these baits.  Watermelon red for clear water and Junebug for dark stained water.   In clear water I would use Floro line, or at least a Floro leader.  They will catch in the thickest cover or open water.  Fish slow, and then change the technique  to a jerk action, or just pull and stop.  It will catch bass of all size, just find the right action.  Don't use more weight then needed for your conditions.  I often use a 1/32 weight this produces a slow fall though the water column, and more action on the bait.  The bait will walk along the bottom with a jerk and stop action.  Deadly!!!!

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Make sure your cranks represent the local forage both in size and color. So if you got shad find something you think matches that closely. Make sure your making bottom contact with them as well. I've found also going to a flat sided crank without rattles produces better in clear water with a lot of pressure. Maybe this will help. This fish my son is holding is a crank fish and what I described above is what helped to produce it.

also read the forum a rare insight into crank bait fish, tons of great in put in it.

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Honestly I've caught bass on every color crank I own. This includes blues, purples , dark green, pink, chartreuse ,  reds, brown, orange, chrome, ones that are "live" pattern that cloesly resemble baitfish to the human eye (and honestly have done the worst on those) 

Size, action, depth, contact with structure and placement are much more key than color. 

The most important thing to do while cranking IMO is to vary your retrieve. 

Try a slow steady retrieve, this usually works. 

Try a rip and pause, one of my favorite techniques . 

Burn it.. bass can swim faster than you think and sometimes this is the ticket. 

Try a combination of all three . This makes the bait very erratic and it's proven that bass like something to trigger the strike (this is why deflecting off cover is so effective whether it's bouncing off wood or ripping through grass. ) 

Another tip. (If it's a floating crank) When you cast it out.. let all the rings dissapear before you start your retrieve. Usually bass will come to investigate and the sudden movement can trigger a strike. 

 

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The fish may not have been shallow enough from when you started (early summer) through now. Are you fishing from a boat or the bank? Cranks work better when you are covering lots of water. High percentage areas are points and creek channel bends that are close to the bank. Anything unusual along a bank. One lay down by itself. One bush that sticks out further than the others. Transition areas there the bank changes from one material to another. Rock to sand. Chunk rock to pea gravel...etc. Anything different. As a co angler your best bait may not be a crank bait. The fisherman at the front of the boat will probably pick off the most active fish before you get a chance to cast to them. This is where finesse practice will pay off! However... you will see where they catch the crank bait fish. Pay attention to exactly where they get bit. You will start to see a pattern. 

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12 minutes ago, MBB Nate said:

You arent missing much on the feel of a crankbait bite.  Now the topwater bite will elevate your heartrate and make your palms sweat.

I agree. But it's fun using cranks.. sometimes the slow finesse style gets boring (IF you're not catching fish ha-ha) 

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Grats on finding success with the drop shot!  Most of my fish are drop shot fish but I started using more crankbaits and chatterbaits last year, and have caught a decent amount of fish on them.  I seem to have better luck with a reaction bite in the late spring/early summer, though I'll catch fish on squarebills from Spring through the Fall.  Just keep flinging the crank out there and maybe try to change up your speed.  Sometimes you need to burn it, sometimes you need to reel it kind of slowly.  Also reel the crankbait all the way up to your feet...As a shore guy I've caught quite a few fish when the fish hits it a couple of feet from shore right when I'm about to lift my lure out of the water for another cast.

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Fishing from a kayak, and I have had some awesome strikes on my topwater frogs, it is exhilarating!! just no hook ups, which I'm sure is my fault for probably trying to set the hook at impact instead of waiting a second, or the fish just completely missing my frog

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7 hours ago, NorthwestBasser said:

Fishing from a kayak, and I have had some awesome strikes on my topwater frogs, it is exhilarating!! just no hook ups, which I'm sure is my fault for probably trying to set the hook at impact instead of waiting a second, or the fish just completely missing my frog

Everybody misses fish on top water. Especially frogs where you only have a top hook. sometimes I add a lake fork trailer hook on the hollow body frogs.. I missed alot of fish on frogs this season. Probably around 50% maybe more. Sometimes they just explode on it and don't take it.. sure is fun though. 

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If you want to catch fish on a crankbait, fish just them. When you are going fishing off your kayak, only take the crankbaits with you. This will force the issue. You will have to fish just them, and you will eventually find some fish with them. this time of year? eh,..maybe. but next spring just before the spawn, you should start hooking up with a crankbait fish or a dozen

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I a little weary of adding a trailer hook to my hollowbodies, I'm throwing these into heavy matted veg and lilypads, isn't the point of the frog to be basically snag proof? I'm asking that honestly btw not being a smart a**

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3 minutes ago, NorthwestBasser said:

I a little weary of adding a trailer hook to my hollowbodies, I'm throwing these into heavy matted veg and lilypads, isn't the point of the frog to be basically snag proof? I'm asking that honestly btw not being a smart a**

Totally . I only add the trailer hook sometimes. Usually when I'm missing fish and the surface allows. I've had success with them ! 

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21 hours ago, NorthwestBasser said:

Yes water around here is clear, I have friends who catch em in crankbaits, spinners and frogs like I do finesse fishing, just wanna feel that reaction bait strike. I'm just not sure if I'm doing something wrong or in the wrong place. I'm joining a local bass club this coming spring and it's a draw format where non boaters get paired up with a boat, I'm really hoping fishing the season with different guys and watching and learning will help a ton. who knows though.

I havent fished clear water a lot . From what I understand  clear water anglers use a lot of  baits that dont move a lot of water and are  quiet like a Shad Rap .  Shad Raps work well in dingy water too , I just dont like casting them . The Crankin rap has a tight action but its noisy. The FatRap has a tight action with no rattles and its balsa wood body is much quieter when the hooks rattle against it than a hollow plastic bait . I know they are quieter because I do a lot of fishing is an aluminum jon boat which amplifies the sound . Plastic crankbaits are noiser than wood even without rattles  .   One of my favorite ways to fish is with lipless baits on deep points . I can hear a Red Eyed shad sinking , it goes click , click , click...I can actually hear  bass hitting lipless baits when I pause them even the Silent Red Eyes .

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I probably fish for bass with soft plastics about 85 percent of the time.  I rarely use cranks because I've had little luck with them. The only other things I use are jigs  and topwater.

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Sometimes you will find a bait or method where you have to ask "Where have you been all my life?".  You have "stumbled" upon a technique that has, apparently, placed your lure in a location and time when the fish are there and desire it.  In 6 months (or maybe tomorrow)  it may not be the case.

Last spring I was fishing with a buddy.  We usually do pretty good methodically/slowly fishing a soft plastic and although we were were picking up a FEW fish they were exactly that-few and far between.  I surmised, luckily, that the fish were "off" a bit and decided the best thing to do would appeal to their gut instinct to bite something before it got away and switched to a jerk bait-something they might have to chase-but not very far.  It was as though a light bulb went on and the bite was on again.  Moral of this story:  Don't discard, sell, or give away your other baits yet.  The time may (probably WILL) come when your drop shot technique may dry up-only to be replaced with something else.

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It's all about activity level of the bass and they are only active feeding about 10% to 20% of the time. Drop shot and other slower moving lures appeals to neutral or less active bass and they are in this mod about 30% to 60% of the time and inactive the balance of the time.

Faster moving lures that need to be chased down requires active feeders, just need to spend enough time to determine the rhythm of the bass you are trying to catch....timing!

Tom

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When using a square bill crank bait make sure you are running it into rocks, stumps and branches. They look like they will get hung up will all of the treble hooks but they don't. Almost all of my strikes in a square bill come right after I bump into structure. 

Mid you feel your bait getting hung up just pause for a second and most of the time the bait will back out and float over whatever it was stuck on 

 

with th hollow bodied frogs set the hook hard. When I first tried fishing a frog I missed a bunch of hooks ups because I wasn't setting the hook hard enough. My second day I only missed one because I locked my drag down and really set the hook 

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