Crankbaits in the summer
It’s been a cold, wet spring in many parts of North America, but summer is here, so we would guess that things are about to warm up. Something that has already heated up is the fishing: Fishing has been pretty darn good in many places. As the water warms up, our lure choices can speed up. As the water warms, crankbaits will become very productive. Let’s talk about crankbaits.
Crankbaits are mostly made from hard plastic or wood and they usually have 2 treble hooks. They are productive by either casting and retrieving or trolling. Most float when they’re not moving. Depending on the size of the lip where the line is attached, they will dive from 2 to 20 feet. The larger the lip, the deeper they dive. Crankbaits come in a variety of sizes and colors. Some are shaped like a minnow, some like a crawdad, and others like a forage fish, maybe a bluegill or shad. Crankbaits appeal to any gamefish out there.
Walleyes usually like long, thin crankbaits like a Lucky Shad, and largemouth usually like shorter, fatter crankbaits like the Pro Models from Strike King. However, from now until the water freezes, a walleye will eagerly take one of those short fat baits when fished along a weedline.
The deep weedline is a great place to fish a crankbait. Cast it over the tops of the weeds and work it back to the boat. The crankbait will run deeper as you retrieve it. Sometimes it will catch on the tops of the weeds. Rip it off by pulling on the rod, then stop reeling and let it rise back to the surface a bit. A strike will often occur when you start reeling again.
When casting crankbaits, you can influence its running depth by how you position your rod tip. Hold the rod tip down near the surface of the water to make the bait run deeper, hold the rod tip up to make it run shallower. If you’re fishing a weedline, cast the bait onto the top of the weeds and keep the rod tip up until you think the bait is near the deep edge of the weeds. Then pull the rod tip down so the bait dives quickly along the edge of the weeds.
Some anglers like braid for fishing crankbaits, others prefer monofilament or fluorocarbon. If you want to be able to rip the bait through the weeds, go with XTCB8 Braid in about 30 pound test. If mono or fluorocarbon is preferred, go with 12 or 14 pound test. Tactical fluorocarbon is quickly becoming a favored line for many tactics.
I like a 6’6″ or 7′ rod for crankin’. If you’re using braid or fluorocarbon go with a softer action rod: With mono, go with something a little stiffer. Mono has stretch, so you need to set the hook a bit harder than you do with braid or fluoro. They don’t stretch very much. Baitcaster rods and reels are the way to go for most crankbaits. The folks at Lew’s make outstanding rods and reels in a variety of price ranges that will appeal to most anglers.
More and more, I prefer to net crankbait fish. Flopping fish and lots of hooks can cause problems for the fish and the fisherman. Oftentimes when you net the fish, a hook will catch in the mesh of the net and the fish will come free. This enables the angler to release the fish quickly and safely. Beckman makes nets that are constructed to be fish-friendly and angler safe.
For the rest of the summer, have a crankbait rigged on a rod whenever you hit the water. When you’re on a fishy looking piece of structure, give the fish a look at your crankbait. Much of the time they’ll do more than look at it: They’ll eat it.
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