Ultimate Bass

Collegiate Angler Spencer Clark on Cranking

A lot of people think of a crankbait as a dummy bait. To the casual fisherman it may seem like all you need to do to fish a crankbait is tie one on and throw it out there. While you can probably catch some fish here and there with that mentality, there are a couple of tips that I can give you that…

A lot of people think of a crankbait as a dummy bait. To the casual fisherman it may seem like all you need to do to fish a crankbait is tie one on and throw it out there. While you can probably catch some fish here and there with that mentality, there are a couple of tips that I can give you that have helped me take my crankbait fishing to the next level.

#1. When it comes to crankbait fishing you need to make sure that you have the proper reel and the proper rod for the job. So many fish are lost because people use a rod that is too stiff or too flexible. When I’m cranking open water the AiRRUS Copperhead Cranking Stick is a tough rod to beat. The rod has the right flex to keep the fish hooked up and is also very sensitive to detect strikes on a long cast. The 7foot version is great for bombing crankbaits because of its soft tip and backbone. If I’m fishing shallow wood or heavy cover with my cranks I like to throw them on a heavier rod because I need to turn the fish away from the cover and get them in the boat. Typically I’ll use a 7 foot medium heavy AiRRUS Co-Matrix rod. This rod is what I also use to pitch my jigs and plastics. It may seem like a heavy rod for cranking but if your throwing those square bills with big hooks into heavy cover you need to have a rod that will penetrate the hooks and one that will get the fish turned in your direction fast. When it comes to reels I suggest that you get one with a 6.31 gear ratio or lower. The high speed reels can pull too much line and affect the action of your bait. With a slow speed reel you can always speed up. It is harder to slow down and keep the bait moving at a steady clip with a burner type reel.

#2 When you’ve got the right rod the next thing to take a look at is your line. I like to use fluorocarbon line if I’m going to be cranking deeper than 6 feet of water. Fluorocarbon sinks so it helps get your bait down into the strike zone. Since the line is more dense you also get added sensitivity when your fishing deeper. This can really help you detect strikes if the bass are in a funky mood and are not hitting your bait well. I use GAMMA Edge Fluorocarbon for my cranking with no problems. It is a good durable line. You typically get the best action out of crank with 10lb test but I use 12lb usually for durability. When you hit a school with a crankbait and get one in the boat you can’t worry about retying. You’ve got to get your bait back in there because you can get a couple more right away when they are excited. When I’m cranking water shallower than 6 feet I’m usually targeting heavier cover and I’m not so much as concerned with how deep my bait is going to run. I want a line that is going to float a little more than fluorocarbon so I stick with GAMMA’s High Performance Co-Polymer Line because it makes my crankbaits come through shallow wood better because when I hit a limb or a piece of cover the line helps the bait float up better. One of the mistakes a lot of people make is throwing crankbaits up shallow on too light a line. If I’m fishing laydowns I will throw them on at least 15lb test and up to 20lb test depending on the bait that I’m using. Again you need to be able to move the fish away from the cover fast.

#3 When you get to a body of water match your cranks color to the clarity. If you have clear water you want to throw more natural looking cranks. Stick to your whites and your natural shad or bluegill patterns. If your water is muddy you want to throw your chart and blacks your chart and blue backs because you want your bait to stand out. Depending on how the fish respond to the colors your throwing you may need to keep switching it up until you get the fish to practically swallow it. If the fish are getting hooked on the outside of the mouth it might be a sign that you need to make a color change even though your sticking to the same crank. When you get one that has the bait all the way down it’s throat you’ll know you have the right color on.

#4 On the retrieve pay attention to what your bait is doing when you get your bites. This is critical. If your getting your bites close to the boat as the crank is coming up it might be a sign that the fish are not relating directly to the bottom or that you are too close to the fish and that you need to back off some. You might get a bite when you change speeds which can happen as the bait is getting closer to the boat. As more line is added on your reel during the retrieve if you keep winding at the same pace your bait is going to gradually start to move faster. This is something that a lot of people forget about and something that you need think about. Make sure you vary your retrieve and add twitches and pauses into your retrieve as your bringing it back. The change in action of your bait is a lot of times what cause as a fish to hit. Just keep experimenting and let the fish tell you what they want. Some days you might just need a simple steady retrieve.

Spencer Clark



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