Crankbaits For Bass

Crankbaits For Bass Catch more bass on crankbaits with these proven crankbait tips. We explain how and where to fish crankbaits for bass that will catch big lunkers!

Crankbaits are among the favorite baits of professional tournament fishermen because they act as "bird dogs" in their search for bass. One of the greatest advantages of using crankbaits for bass (especially the deep-diving type) is the vast amount of water you can cover, especially when bass are using a depth of 10 to 20 feet. Crankbaits have a built-in action designed to function when the fisherman merely retrieves the lure steadily, or "cranks" it in. They have protruding "lips" that cause them to dive beneath the surface when retrieved.
   Use a light- to medium-action 6 1/2- to 7 -foot rod when crankbait fishing. Softer rods will allow the bass to inhale the lure, resulting in more hooked fish and longer rods allow longer casts and better hooksets. For best lure action and speed, use a reel with a gear ratio of 4:1 to 5:1.
   Crankbaits are reaction baits - bass don't hit it because they are fooled. They hit it because something is getting away from them.


The depth at which your crankbait will run depends on many factors, including line size, lure design and speed of retrieve. In general, crankbaits run deeper when fished more slowly on lighter line with longer casts. Crankbaits with longer bills run deeper and have a wider wobble than lures with small bills. For better depth control, use a lighter weight line, but not too light, at least 10 pound test or better. A high stretch line is preferred because the bass will be less likely to throw the small treble hooks. Vary the depth of the bait by the height of your rod tip and speed of retrieve.

How and Where to Fish Crankbaits For Bass

Crankbaits are especially effective in the following bass situations:

- Gravel, clay or mud points and flats.
- Drop-offs and ledges of varying depths.
- Stumps and logs.
- Large rocks.

Notice that crankbaits tend to work best around "solid edges" or places where wood or rocks occur. They are not well-suited to grass, moss or weeds, although many fishermen do well by cranking them along weed edges or over the tops of submerged weedbeds. Crankbaits work best as a contact lure: bump them against the bottom, knock them off stumps, etc. This will cause the bait to stop and then dart erratically, causing a reaction strike. To help eliminate hang-ups in heavy cover areas, use a crankbait with a wide lip. Also, your line will touch the structure before your bait so you will feel a slight pressure. This tells you to slow down. If they slap the bait, change something (color, size, retrieve, etc.). Smallmouth will slap baits a lot.
Try these retrieves:

Kneel & Reel: With a long rod, use a deep-runner and stick the rod tip in the water to attain extra depth.
Stop & go: Reel rapidly, then stop. Floating crankbaits will slowly rise; suspending lures will stay at that depth. Then start reeling again. Repeat.
Bottom bumping: This technique is effective in both deep and shallow water. Root the crankbait along the bottom so it kicks up silt and runs erratically. To achieve this action, the bait must dive deeper than the water depth. With practice, you can actually make determinations about bottom content from the feel of the lure. A tapping on the bottom indicates rocks or gravel, a very slight drag indicates sand, and a longer tug (or a snag) indicates muck and weeds.
Ripping: Crank the lure a few times to get it at the required depth and then pull back sharply with the rod, causing the lure to dart quickly through the water. Gather slack and repeat.


For bass fishing, it's best to stick to basic colors. Crankbaits for bass should match in a general way the most dominant forage in the lake. Thus, popular crankbait colors that should be included in your tacklebox include: silver and black(shad), green and silver (Tennessee shad), chrome (open water baitfish), orange and brown(crawfish), etc. If golden shiners occur in your waters, "match the hatch" by using gold crankbaits. Fluorescent colors are effective on crankbaits in many conditions. A popular combination is fluorescent green(chartreuse)/black spots/orange belly in stained water and/or cloudy days. Red works well around grass beds in clear and stained water. But always keep in mind that 80 percent of the strikes you get are due to your retrieve, not color.
Compare different crankbaits


  • For best fish appeal, use an erratic retrieve.
  • If the lure runs to the right, bend the line pull to the left, and vise-versa.
  • For better sensitivity, hold your rod tip low and to the side, keeping the angle between rod and line at about 90 degrees.
  • Don't jerk hard for the hookset, just reel faster - the small treble hooks can rip out on a strong hookset.
  • Hook sharpness is especially important with crankbaits. Many professional anglers replace the standard hooks with extra-sharp, strong hooks.
  • Check your line above the lure frequently when fishing crankbaits, as rock, gravel, stumps, etc., will quickly fray your line.
  • To get your lure to run deeper, try crimping a split-shot 8-10 inches ahead of the bait or rig it like a Carolina rig, using a 1/2 ounce sinker.
  • While lures with built-in rattles make more noise, remember that underwater, sound lacks direction-it appears to come from everywhere. Bass are as likely to strike a crankbait for its appearance as its sound.
  • Use a wire cross - locking snap when fishing crankbaits, which allows you to change lures quickly and enables the bait to move more freely.
  • In the early Spring, use large crankbaits. Switch to smaller baits after the spawn and progressively use larger ones as the season goes on.
  • If the vibration changes, you've probably hit structure. If the bait stops vibrating, you've got a fish. Sometimes you'll just lose contact with the bait.
  • Loosen the drag on your reel as the bass gets closer to the boat.
  • If feeding fish and baitfish movement are in evidence, switch from a jig or other slow-moving lure to a faster-moving crankbait for more action. But remember that crankbaits tend to catch smaller fish than do jigs and worms.
  • Concentrate on speed and depth control.
  • Try fishing around ditches where a nice spring or summer's rain is washing into the main source of water. Fish around the muddy water, and sometimes through it. Select a crankbait that makes a lot of noise and has good bright color. Dark colors like Baby bass will also work. This technique helped me land my 7 lb. 12 oz. largemouth and many others. -- Daniel Langton
  • If you are fishing stained water and see a big black spot by the shore or in a little deeper water, it's two things: a stump and a giant bass! Cast five feet beyond it and then reel the crankbait (a shallow running one works best or however deep the stump is, match the bait with the depth of it) so that it will deflect or hit the stump. The bass will inhale the bait. -- C.J.( jr. pro champ)

Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.

Hardbaits old

Read More Hardbait Articles