The allure of wooden crankbaits, for many years, one of the secret baits of the pros has been wooden crankbaits. Sure, we have all seen pictures of them slinging the plastic plugs, but when it comes crunch time and money on the line, many will reach for their wooden plugs. The reason is simple—they catch more fish.
Wooden crankbaits produce an action you simply cannot duplicate with plastic baits. Wood gives the baits a rolling, injured minnow action the bass find extremely difficult to turn down. They have a more random “searching” or “hunting” track during the retrieve. I feel this type of random, confused track triggers more strikes due to imitating a dazed or disoriented bait fish. Also, due to the density differences in wood (no two having the same density), no two wooden crankbaits will have the exact same action. Again, an advantage when fishing pressured waters, and one of the reasons wood is so popular with those that know this.
Are there differences in the various wooden Baits? Absolutely! I am a firm believer in hand-carved wooden plugs over the mass produced wood baits. A Hand carved plug does cost more, but they simply produce a better action and catch more bass. I have tried all brands of mass produced wooden plugs, and they all catch fish. Some are simply superior to others.
There are three basic types of wood used for crankbaits. The most common wood for crankbaits is Balsa. This wood is incredibly lightweight, with very high floatation, and a very lifelike action. The drawback to Balsa, it is not particularly strong. It is a fairly weak ((or soft)) wood that will not withstand a lot of abuse. A consideration if you are going to fish aggressive species.
For those who want a crankbait that can withstand more abuse, Cedar is the popular choice. Cedar lures are very dense and therefore heavier than Balsa baits, therefore they can be fished a little slower with a more subdued action. Cedar baits are not as buoyant as Balsa but they are much stronger.
Lastly, there is Jelutong wood. Jelutong gives anglers the best of both worlds. It has the action and buoyancy of Balsa, but it is as strong and tough as Cedar. I used to have all my baits made of Jelutong. It is simply the best in my opinion.
Determine the fishing condition, choose a wood that matches the condition and have a couple hand-carved baits made. The biggest reason to choose hand-carved wooden baits above any other type of crankbait is the action. ACTION = BASS. It may be the key to a successful day.