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Chris

A rare insight into crankbait fishing

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Thanks Chris,

Every time I read one of your's Rauls, or RW's

posts i learn a little something about lures!!!

You guys keep the info coming, it really helps me out.    

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Guest avid

thank you for that very educational post.  You touched briefly on water clarity v/ lure color.  Could you expand on that please professori.

Grazia,

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Excellent post Chris !

If you don 't mind me stepping in I would add some points:

1.- Unless you are fishing a bait like the DT, the maximum depth the lure can achieve is only during 1/3 of the distance of your cast, which is usually in the second third of the distance, so if you make a 30 yd cast with a bait supposed to run at 12 ft the bait only runs at 12 ft during the middle 10 yds of the cast. During the first third the bait is DIVING TO, during the third third the bait is RISING FROM.

2.- Line diameter affects the diving depth of the lure, most lures are designed to run on 10-12 "lb" test, the more you increase the diameter the shallower the bait will run. You loose 1 ft per every pound you increase the line diameter in 1 "lb", the same way, you gain 1 ft for every pound you decrease the diameter of the line.

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great posts fellas.  I think I'ma go out today and make some casts with some cranks...  its been a week and a half since I went fishin...   :o

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It's stuff like this that makes me glad I stumbled across this site!  I've made a few post about my "crankbait woes" and how I can never seem to hook one when using them.  This goes a long way towards explaining why!

I figured using a crankbait would be like using my inline spinnerbaits.  I wasn't waiting for a monster strike, but I figured I'd be able to feel it.  Perhaps I am getting strikes, but just don't know it.  Guess it's time I finally got a better rod too.  I hear G. Loomis makes some nice ones.   ;D

A couple questions:

1)  Chris said: "The wider the wobble, the more resistance the bait has and the less depth the bait can go".  Does this mean that wide wobble baits don't reach their advertised depth at all, or that it just takes them longer to get there?

2)  Raul said: "You lose 1 ft for every lb you increase line diameter".  So...if I'm using 8 lb test on a bait designed for 10-12, it will run 2-4 ft deeper?

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1.- Nope buddy, what Chris said means that a wide wobbling bait will reach the depth it 's designed to but it will take you more effort and will take longer to do it because it has more resistance, the difference between a fat and a flat bait when it comes to reeling it in is from earth to heaven.

2.- Yup, downsizing the diameter of the line will make a bait run deeper.

A good rod makes a world of difference, a bass can mouth and spit a crank in an eyeblink, with a good rod you are able to feel the change in cadence of the bait. Razor sharp hooks are always necessary. If your hooks are razor sharp the fish hooks itself when it spits the bait.

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good post guys, great information

btw - i mentioned in a recent post that, with a sensitive rod, you not only feel the vibration in your hand; you can even feel it when the end of your rod touches your side, belly, etc..

And, it is indeed, "CrankBait Time!" Wheeeeeeeeeeee

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Guest whittler

Amen, Chris. Concentration on the bait will pay off, at least in my opinion, more than about anything else. I know guys that can quote chapter and verse every crankbait article they have ever read, buy every new bait that claims to hunt bass and still don't get it when the rod is in their hands. Its all in the details, when you swat a bug, scratch your nose or other body part and a fish strikes,. that should tell you something, that small change in retreive probably triggered the strike. Just be aware of what is going on is the key to cranks.

Thanks for a great post

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I just purchased a Fenwick for crankin and I was using it in about 2' of fast moving river water. Bouncing the lure off the bottom on the retrive I was amazed at how much better I could feel the ticks and wobbles, I lost contact with the lure, but it wasn't till a split second later I saw the line move sideways that I set the hook.

Next time I won't wait for the movement. I landed that smallmouth, but maybe I missed some before that.

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Chris, thanks for a very informative article . You noted a few things that has opened my eyes about retrieving cranks and I sure appreciate it.

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It just takes them longer to get there and may not reach the depth they have marked on them unless you cast them a mile. For a bait to dive deep quick it needs to have a tight action. You have the floatation of the bait fighting the lip that's trying to make it dive. You also have the wide wiggle that puts up resistance. Your line is adding floatation to your lure. Some line by itself floats and the resistance of the line cutting through the water cuts down on how deep the bait will go. Colors lol well let me put it to you this way most bass grab a bait from under it or behind it. (look at the bass in my picture what do you think the last color it saw befor it hit that bait and notice the location it hit that bait) The belly color and the colors viewed from behind is the most important. Bet you never thought about it that way huh. The back color only comes into play when the bait is plowing the bottom like a crawfish. The sides only come into play in clear water (flash)or when the bait deflects off of cover and turns the bait so that the sun reflects off of the side color. A lot of the neat finishes that crankbaits have unless there is enough light to reflect off of it (which means the bait needs to tilt to the sun to reflect with the right mechanical action already in the bait) or if the bait glances off of something to reflect the light they serve no purpose other than they look pretty. If the bait doesn't reflect off of the sun the color appears dull or a shadow. Crawfish colors for bottom bouncing lures and shad or yellow for anything not hitting the bottom. Clear water flash comes into play. If the lake has shad I throw shad baits if there is a lot of bluegills then I try to match it. Dirty water bright or dark colors because your dealing more in shapes and vibration. Super clear water I fish more chrome colors. If I am fishing a place that has shiners then gold works. Shiners in stained water or heavy stained water appear yellow or dark or white depending on the amount of stain the water has. In spring red because it looks like a bluegill and they are the first to move to the shore after ice out. You can put a ton of thought in colors and styles if you want but really it boils down to the vibration and the way a bass views the colors before they hit your bait. Most of the time a bass just sees an opportunity to feed and if its the right size it has been feeding on it hits it. Spend more time on vibration and depth control than pinning down a new color that nobody has. You will get a headache. There are times like after a hatch that you need to match the size and general color of the hatch or if there is alot of stain in the water you need to use a brighter color but most of the time a basic color selection and a good selection of different kinds of vibration is the key. There is a lot of times I use odd colors for the wrong clarity of the water and still catch a bunch of fish because I match the right vibration to the right clarity of the water. Color is important when they can see it but vibration is top on my list.

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sweet guys!  i thought i had a pretty good handle on cranking, but i just added a ton of knowledge to what i already know, thank you.  i love cranks and fish them whenever possible, so this post was AWESOME!  thanks.

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Chris, great post. Cranking is certainly what I consider to be the achilles heel of my fishing game. I know I need to improve on this skill if I hope to take the show further south for the bigger tournaments. I am going to print this one out and put it in my tackle bag. After I have located and caught a few fish with my usual techniques, I am going to take out your tips and make myself switch to crankbaits and learn how to feel what is going on, where the bait is running and hopefully begin to gain some confidence with them. Great work!

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Bait signatures: This is the vibration and water displacement that every bait has. The more water a bait displaces the greater the bait signature. This means the more water displacement the better a bass can find your bait in low visibility. This is important in choosing the right vibration with the right water clarity. I always label lures in three main categories tight wiggle medium and wide. Tight wiggle baits are for clear water because bass feed mainly by sight not sound or vibration. Medium wiggle baits I use for clear to stained water and wide wiggle baits are for stained to muddy. I do this because the less distance a bass can see under water the more a bass uses its hearing. You don't want to throw a tight vibrating bait in heavy stained water because bass would have a hard time finding it and it will not stand out.  Clear water baits: If you ever took a close look at a rattletrap it runs in a straight line but kinda looks like its fighting to stay straight. The bait kinda shifts to the right a little then to the left a little then rights itself. Well, that's the way real shad swims. A live shad doesn't run dead on straight to get anywhere. A crankbait that mimics that same pattern when cranked will displace more water and look like what a bass was born to eat shad. Tight vibrating crankbaits that are just a hair off tune will mimic that same action. Wood baits are the best for this action but some plastic baits can do it to. Lucky Craft BDS, Bandit, and Norman baits are some that I have tuned to mimic that off center action (sometimes its the luck of the draw). Most wood baits do it on their own most of the time without messing with them. Distressed live bait: If you ever watched a shad get spooked you should know that it darts around trying to get away from a would be predator. Shad and other live bait act completely different when they figure out that they are on the dinner plate. They boogie in a random direction to try to get away. Many fishermen try to bounce their bait on the bottom to make it have a random action. This is fine and it works but if you take a wood bait and tune it slightly out of tune your bait will do some wild stuff. You don't need to bounce it off of anything just reel. Some "special crankbaits" will search a good distance right and left.  I was fishing one today that when I started my reel it shot right 3 ft then straightened out then shot right and left randomly. The thing about it was each cast the lure acted different. This random action makes your bait different then most of the baits that people throw.  They also have a unique vibration pattern that is different from the mechanical action of most plastic baits that the average guys use. The bait acts like a distressed live bait. Foreign: Baits that have a lot of rattle or an odd vibration or action strikes the curiosity of a bass. In some cases it turns the bass off. You need to understand that a bass that lived all of its life in clear water has developed its sight the most because that is what it mainly uses it to feed. By the same token a bass in muddy water bass has developed its hearing the most because it uses it the most to feed. If you take a clear water bass and drop it in a muddy lake it would have a hard time hitting your crankbait with 100% accuracy until it adjusted to the muddy water if it does at all. You need to understand this when you choose your crankbait and the speed you reel it. Lakes that are clear most of the year then a storm muddies it up this is when it is wise to slow down and use more vibration because the bass is still in the clear water mode. Where a bait signature becomes foreign is when you use a wide wobbling lure in clear water. Some bass will be duped by a strange vibration but most will be turned off because it is foreign to the environment. You take that same bait and fish it on an overcast day, over heavy cover or low light and things change. Tuning: (regular baits not wild search baits) A medium and deep bait that is perfectly tuned when you throw it out and point your rod at your lure and reel. When your bait reaches the boat it should run almost under it and the very front of the lip should be what you see as it reaches the surface. It should not run right or left of center at the boat. Some baits take time to tweak to get it right and other baits for whatever reason will never get right and need to be weeded out. A perfectly tuned bait will dive the deepest and vibrate the most when it is tuned correctly. Bait runs right bend the eye left. Bait runs left bend right. It just takes a slight bend in most cases and if it takes a dramatic twist you might want to ditch the bait. Some plastic baits the two halves are not matched up right and will be difficult to tune and would be a good bait to give to your buddy. Some Bandits are like that and I have had some Fatfree shads that way too. Strike detection: When in doubt set the hook! It takes some time to know what weeds feel like and stumps but while your getting the right touch its a good idea to set on anything different. If you have a hard time feeling the strike or the vibration of the bait graphite is a wonderful thing and a glass rod has its place but composite is the best of both worlds. I stuck a fish today that if my line broke I would have thought it was just a stump. Sometimes it is tough to determine a strike so I set the hook on anything. This time it turned out to be a 3 pounder. Welcome to the world of oz ;D

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yeah!!!!!!!!!   thanks for the tips on tuning, ive been trial and erroring mine.  how do you tune to get the erratic action you spoke of?  is it possible to tune erractic-style on shallow, mid and deep divers?  thanks for any advise you can throw my way!

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Guest whittler

How do you tune for erratic action? Truth  is with some baits you can't, although you might get it to run straight it will still not have that erratic action or the other term thrown around, the ability to hunt. When purchasing a crank, if possible, take it out of the package and look at it very close. If a plastic bait, like Chris said, check and see that the two halves match, are the hook hangers and line tie in straight, look real close at the parting line on the lip. If these things are not perfect the odds are that it will not run or tune properly. Wood baits, best chance of getting a hunter, they can be the worst to tune. Check a Poe's and you will see that only about one in five will have the rear or bottom hook hangers centered on the bait. Turn the bait over and sight down its length, all the hangers and the line should be in perfect alignment and if they are not put it back on the rack. The hangers and hooks act like a keel on a bait and help keep it on track.

i will try to post some more bait autopsy pictures and you can see why some baits will tune and some, well the money just went down the tubes.

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Yeah its not automatic some baits do but you will go though 100s to find a plastic bait that will. With wood baits maybe 1 out of 10 (depends on the company this is just to give you an idea). With a plastic bait they don't wildly search but move slightly. I have had one Norman Fatboy that acted like a wood bait and hunts wildly but it was a lucky luck of the draw. I have had 2 Bandit baits do it and 3 other Norman baits that ran off center. The Lucky Craft BDS is one of the few plastic baits that are built to search. It moves about a 6 inches right and left (this is a guess). Some wood baits will move 3x that far. You just got to find one that will but the odds are greater in wood baits. When you find a plastic one guard it with your life because it will take some time and money to find another. Each bait has its own personallity. Some slightly move off center and some don't and others move wildly. You can have 3 identical baits wood or plastic that have different vibration and will run different depths. More so with wood baits you can have three that will have different actions but just looking at them they are identical.

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i remember when i would try to modify some of my various baits by manipulating the plastic lip somtimes while i did this i would turn a deep diver into a top water ::) HELL CHRIS WE BOTH DID THIS remember ? mostly the rapalas....  :-X

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Oh yeah and still do! You can get that rapala to just dive inches which works great on shallow flats or whack off a lip to a deep diver so that the split ring just is over the end of the lip. When you do that you can put your rod to the water and it will dive like 3 ft then lift the rod and it will dive inches. Your rod position dramatically changes the running depth more so than a regular crankbait.

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