Ultimate Bass

Crankbait Basics

When the word crankbait is mentioned around me, several things come to my mind. Alot of folks will first say that they are the easiest lure to use while others will call them idiot baits or sucker baits. Many will tell you that these are great search baits because they can be used to cover a lot of water, and can be fished fast or slow if needed.

As for me, when I think of crankbaits several other thoughts come to mind. My first image would be a pile of baits with all their hooks tangled up together. Something bad enough that your best needle nose plies would run and hide in order to keep from fighting with all those hooks. Then the image of hundreds of crankbaits in different colors and brands, stuffed and packed all over the boat and in our tackle boxes.

You know how we are most of the time; we think we have to have every color of the rainbow, and in every brand. If you don’t believe me, just ask or peek in your buddies tackle box or boat storage and see what and how many he has. I’m sure he will have some secret baits hidden, but I bet there will be a pile of used baits laying around just waiting to get tangled up. I also bet that he may be like me and just can’t part with or throw away old crankbaits. For reason, I just can’t do it!

Another thought about crankbaits is that you hardly ever see any made of balsa wood, and when you do they are high dollar. One of my all time favorite balsa wood baits was the Bagley B-Flat 11 and the Honey Bee 2 in the #09 color, which was the Chart/black back color. It seems most baits are being made of plastic these days and balsa wood baits are rare. I’m sure glad that I saved all my old balsa baits, and all I do to them is change and sharpen the hooks. Crankbaits do require more upkeep than other baits being they have so many more hooks. Always keep good quality hooks on your baits, and keep them razor sharp, this helps with hook sets. Also check for rust that may form on the hooks from putting them back in the tackle box wet, and also from the weather or moisture in our storage areas. A dull rusty hook could be the difference between a great day on the lake and a bad day; or even worse a non-payday in a tournament!

Once you get those hooks razor sharp and ready for battle, you have another problem to deal with. That is, trying to lip or land a bass with a mouth full of razor sharp hooks. You have to be very careful that the bass doesn’t sling his head and get your fingers or hand snagged with the hooks. No one enjoys reaching into a bass’s mouth or even a tackle box and coming out with a hook buried in their finger or hand. This can cause a very bad day on the lake, and if you can’t remove the hook yourself, it can cause a very bad trip home too, trust me.

The other night while shopping at Bass Pro Shops I saw a First Aid Kit that offered a hook removal kit inside it, and I thought that was a great idea. Of course, none of us would ever need one of these because we are very careful and that never happens to us, right? For safety, I think every bass boat should have a First Aid Kit and a Hook Removal Kit because you just never know what might happen.

My last & final thought on crankbaits takes me back a few years to a Rebel Bass Tournament in Mobile, Alabama. Both my partner and I had prepared for this big money tournament, and we were onto some very good fish. In fact, we just knew that we had Rebel money in the bank!

After the morning blast off, which back then we called the Boat Race, we reached our first spot. It only took a few casts, and we had 3 good fish in the boat, so we took off for our second spot. After a few minutes in our second hole, we picked up one more good bass, which left us with needing three more fish (in those days there was a seven fish per team or boat limit). At this time, my partner had changed to a buzz bait, and I changed to a stick bait, which was a Devil Horse with three sets of sharp hooks. About my third or fourth cast the water blew up in front of us, and I tried to get my wits about me so I could set the hook. It was the largest bass of the morning so far, with a mouth that looked like a gallon bucket, and definitely a bass to put us in the money. As I was trying to fight the bass and keep it from jumping all over the water, my partner was getting the net ready. Just as the bass was getting close to the boat, it turned and makes a final run ripping my drag and then it happened. This is a story that bass fishermen don’t like to tell; the one that got away. As the bass turned and ripped my line, I used extra pressure and with all the head shaking going on he threw the bait loose. Well as, you know we lost that big bass, but the worst part was just beginning. All that pressure that I was using made the devil horse fly by our heads at 100 miles per hour, and it just missed us. However, once that bait got to the end of the line, it came back at the same speed missing my partner and hitting me in the back of the neck! The damage was 2 razor sharp treble hooks buried in my neck with a burning sensation. The pain wasn’t bad until I realized that I was hooked badly, and then the panic attack started. What were we going to do? Remember the First Aid Kit we talked about earlier and said that all bass boats needs one, well we didn’t have one. All we had was a pocketknife and a pair of needle nose plies to do all the operating. My partner cut the line, then cut the bait loose from the hooks; leaving just the hooks in my neck. Let me tell you, it was no fun letting my fishing partner play Dr. Quinn Medicine Man. I was going to leave the hooks in my neck and finish the day, but then I started getting dizzy and sick, so my partner packed up and headed us to the launch area for help. The Tournament Director was very helpful and drove me to the local medical center to get the hooks cut out. Trust me, I would have never let my partner do that without killing him! The Tournament Director even let us weigh our fish in early without being disqualified. This was my first experience of body piercing and it has been my last. You will never have to worry about any earrings in this old boys ear; that’s for sure!

You know we didn’t win or even place in that tournament, but we did win a valuable lesson on sharp crank bait hooks and First Aid Kits! The lesson learned was that you really need both of those items in your boat at all times! That way you will always be ready for both the best and worst of bass fishing. If you don’t have a First Aid Kit and Hook Removal Kit in your bass boat, please consider getting one before the next time you hit the water in search of ole bucket mouth! You just might be glad you did!

Tight Lines & Happy Fishing!
Ricky Ingram

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