by: Jim Reaneau
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When the bass start suspending this is a good time to get out your crankbaits. These baits vary from style and depth. There are 1-minus to 30 plus crankbaits. What this means is that the 1 minus will go no more than twelve inches deep and the 30 plus will go 30 feet deep or more. There are different types of bills on each crankbait. The bill configuration can cause the bait to have more side to side motion. Long bills make a wider wobble and shorter bills make a tighter wobble. The 30 plus will wear you out on the retrieve because of its large bill.
You may have to invest in a glass cranking rod if you get into crankbait fishing. This rod and a fast retrieve reel will help to keep from wearing you out. I have caught many summer time fish suspended over deep humps with this bait. The Storm wiggle wart in the magnum series is a great summer time bait in the creeks and over deep humps. I use the wee warts for the mid to shallow depths.
The line size that you use is the biggest controlling factor on how deep a crankbait will run. The 30 plus on 20 lb. line may not go but 20 or so feet deep. So keep this in mind when choosing your crankbait. Lighter lines will cause the bait to run to its maximum depth. In the summer I graph deep humps and creek channels, find where the fish are suspended and then decide what type of crankbait I will use. Throw past the school and work the bait down quickly then slow the retrieve so that the bait will be presented to the entire school of fish.
When the spring is over, and the males are guarding the fry, a 1 minus crankbait over grass beds will produce strikes. Try bream and baby bass colors. The males that are protecting the fry will strike the bait. A mid range crankbait will only run 5 to 15 foot deep. This is a good bait to fish points where the wind is blowing across. Fan cast your crankbait across the point and then parallel to the point until you come in contact with a fish. Crank the bait down fast then slow the retrieve to maintain the proper depth.
Key colors that I like to use are a crawfish pattern, chrome with a blue back, white with green back, chartreuse with blue back or a shad color. Crankbaits can be thrown in timber, around boat docks and along riprap. When working a crank bait through timber and you come in contact with a hard object, stop the bait and let it float up, then start the retrieve again. A lot of the strikes will come when the bait stops and starts up again. I sometimes run the bait down fast then slowly sweep my rod to maintain the depth on a slow retrieve. Sometimes the sweeping action is better that the stop and go action.
Crankbaits are a great summer time bait because you can cover a lot of water when trying to locate fish. Once you have located the fish and they quit hitting the crankbait, you can switch to a worm and possibly catch some more. During post spawn I run crankbaits in the middle of creeks to locate feeding males and females which have recently left the spawning areas. One thing that I do after opening the package on the crank bait is to check the hooks and split rings. Sometimes the manufacturer will use bronze instead of stainless steel on the split rings. If so I change them immediately. It will take some time and practice but with a little of both you will learn to fish the crankbaits over and through standing timber and stumps. Dont forget the banjo trick I talked about in an earlier article as this will be an easy way to unhang crankbaits. If you come in contact with and object and the bait feels stuck dont jerk the rod. Drop slack and use the banjo trick and usually it will pop loose.
A good lure retriever is also a good investment.
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