One of the best ways to beat the dog days of summer is to get away from the bank and fish in deep water. There are many ways to fish out there and ply offshore structure, including jigs, finesse tactics, and other soft plastics. The common theme with those techniques is that they are fished slowly and right along the bottom.
If you want to fish faster and still fish deep, your options are much more limited. That's where deep-diving crankbaits that dive to over 15 feet of water come into play, and they can be fished in deep water while still allowing you to cover water in search of active fish.
Deep crankbaits are a fun way to fish offshore without having to fish at a snail's pace, and when you figure it out, you can load the boat as bass tend to group up in big schools this time of year.
Location is Key
As with all bass fishing techniques, you must be in the right area to catch fish. Going down the bank and hitting targets along the shoreline is highly visual, but getting offshore and targeting cover takes help from your electronics and mapping. With crankbaits, fishing structure and banging along the bottom is essential as the deflection from the bait hitting a rock, stump, or another object is where many bites happen.
This makes finding structure in deeper water the biggest piece of the puzzle, and the best way to find it is by graphing and looking for hard objects in deeper water. This could be rock piles, river ledges, brush piles, deep timber, or anything of the ordinary.
As you begin your search, long extending points, offshore humps, and reefs are some of the best places to start. Many of these can be seen by looking at your electronic mapping, giving clues of where the fish will be. Other places that you can find with maps are river channels, ledges, and channel swings. They are high-percentage areas as rock, and other hard structure can often be found there.
One more piece of advice is to scan the shoreline to look for rocky areas as often, the rocks will extend far away from the bank, right in front of these areas along the shoreline. It is not a surefire method to locate offshore rocks and reefs, but this approach often pays off when searching for new places to fish a deep-diving crankbait.
Gear and Retrieves
When going deep with crankbaits, having the right gear is essential to handle the jumbo baits and cast them long distances. It takes time for your bait to reach the maximum depth, and there is always a point when the bait begins to ascend as it gets closer to you, so long casts are essential to deep crankbait fishing. The longer your bait can be down deep, the better your odds of connecting with cover, structure, and bass.
A longer rod is a huge benefit to help aid your casting distance and cranking rods at least 7'6" will help you do that. Pairing your rod with a high-quality reel with a large line capacity will also aid casting distance.
Another critical component is selecting the right gear ratio reel, as a speedy reel will wear you down after a long day of hard cranking. Slower reels in the 5.1:1 and 6.1:1 ratios have the right speed to ensure you are not fishing too quickly and prevent tiring because they have more torque per handle turn.
An often overlooked part of crankbait fishing is line selection, specifically line diameter. The thinner diameter helps to cut through the water better, and the bait will dive down quicker and stay there longer. An excellent start is with a 12-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon for most crankbaits and a 15-pound for the bigger crankbaits. Seaguar line has a much thinner diameter than other brands on the market, and InvizX offers excellent line management and casts well, two vital components for crankbait fishing.
For fishing deep-diving crankbaits, a fast retrieve speed is your friend as it allows you to trigger a reaction from deep fish that do not usually see something whizzing by at those depths. The faster retrieve also creates exaggerated deflections when you hit something.
There are many different deep crankbaits available on the market, with some excellent ones. All have large bills to get them down deep but vary significantly in their performance under the water. There is a wide range of vibrations and actions from different baits, with situations where a wider wobble or tighter actions are sometimes better.
Some of the most popular deep crankbaits are the Strike King XD series, which includes the popular 6XD, 8XD, and 10XD. The 6XD will dive around 20 feet deep and is a gold standard for deep crankbait fishing. The 8XD is a much larger body with a more aggressive action and will dive to about the same depths as the 6XD but with a wide action. The 10XD is the biggest of the bunch and can reach depths nearing 30 feet of water with the right gear.
Another great series is the Rapala DT Series, which indicates the diving depth in the bait's name. The DT-16 and D-20 are excellent deep crankbaits and have a tighter action that works well when the fish are less active.
The Strike King and Rapala baits are a great place to start if you are just getting started with deep cranking, but all major brands have embraced the deep-cranking technique and offer lures that will go deep for you.
Fishing deep crankbaits is a fun way to catch bass in deep water. It can produce large numbers of fish and some of the biggest fish in the lake. Having the right gear and understanding of offshore structure are keys to success with deep-diving crankbaits.
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