Shaped like a real fish, a crankbait swims with an erratic wobble and rickety rattle to drive bass mad. Crankbaits are molded out of hard plastic or carved from wood. The lure has a plastic bill or flat head, causing it to dive as it’s pulled through the water. Each crankbait is designed to dive to a specific depth and swim with a bass-mesmerizing shake and rattle.
Best Bass Fishing Baits and Lures: Crankbaits
Derwin Chang is a southern California Hobie team angler with multiple tournament victories under his belt. To target big bass in all conditions, Chang specializes in crankbaits. “I love crankbaits for freshwater and saltwater bass,” he says.
“Last fall, I fished Lake Perris in Riverside County for the first time. Conditions were super windy and choppy,” Chang recalls. Could a crankbait overcome the difficult conditions? “I found tires lying on the bottom in 20 feet of water. I cast out a Rapala DT 20 and cranked it in fast. The tactic produced three big bass and I won the event.”
Crankbaits are simple to use, just cast out and reel in. The trick comes in choosing the right color and depth of the lure. Chang says a crankbait really shines when it swims along the bottom, bouncing into rocks and downed trees. The sound of the lure striking the bottom adds to its appeal.
When to Use a Crankbait
A bass has to be hungry to chase down a crankbait. When the fish are fired up, a crankbait will get bites from the biggest bass in the area.
“I use my fish finder to determine the depth and predict the bottom structure,” says Chang. “I like working a crankbait along a sudden drop off and around structure. I don’t use a crankbait around vegetation, it is too easy to snag the grass.”
The best time for crankbaits is fall and spring when there is less grass. Chang especially likes to use crankbaits early in the morning and early evening, when the fish are actively feeding. Mild, warm weather seems to fire up the bite.
How to Work a Crankbait
Chang describes his crankbait method as follows:
“I watch my fish finder for obstructions on the bottom. At the start of the retrieve, I give the reel handle a few quick turns until I feel the lure hit the bottom. Then I slow my retrieve so the lure will knock bottom every few feet. If I feel the lure contact a rock or tree, I further slow the retrieve to hug the bottom. When a fish strikes, I hit it hard to drive the hooks home.”
How to Choose a Crankbait
Chang chooses his crankbait by depth. “I like a lure that dives quickly and spends more time in the strike zone,” he explains. A crankbait with a larger, wider bill gets to the bottom fastest. Also, consider the color of the water. Use brighter colors in dirty water, and when the water is clear go with a realistic baitfish imitation.
Best Crankbaits to Buy
6th Sense Crush 250MD Baby
The Crush 250MD Baby from 6th Sense features a unique tail design with distinctive taper that moves the lure erratically through the mid-level water column. Dives to 7–11 feet with less drag. Fool the fish with realistic line paint schemes and 3D detailing on the gill plates, eyes and scales.
Bandit 300 Crappie Deep Diver Crankbait
The Bandit 300 series of Deep Diver crankbaits are great for trolling open water or casting along steep, rocky shorelines. Features an extra-wide wobble and loud rattle to drive the fish wild.
Rapala DT20 Ike’s Smash
Using the same design as Rapala’s original DT lures, this special edition is decked out with custom finishes from Rapala pro Michael “Ike” Iaconelli. The lure is constructed of balsa wood with an internal weight and fast-diving form. Target structure at selected depths with these premium crankbaits.
13 Fishing Gordito Crankbait, Mudbug Punch
The Gordito crankbait from 13 Fishing combines the best qualities of a squarebill crankbait and a bladed jig. The lure has a striking, high-definition paint finish and 3D holographic eyes to tempt picky fish. Internal weight is positioned for accurate casting.
Crankbait Tackle Box
Rod: 7’6” medium-heavy Phoenix composite rod. I like a stiff rod to throw a heavy crankbait and a backbone for a strong hookset.
Reel: Daiwa Tatula Elite 100 HS offers flawless casting and a strong drag.
Line: 30-pound PowerPro braided line helps the lure dive to the bottom.
Leader: 15-pound Ultimate fluorocarbon. I use an Alberto knot to attach the leader to the braid. Fluorocarbon is more sensitive, so I can feel the lure hitting the bottom. It is also nearly invisible, so the fish don’t detect my line.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Can’t have too many crankbaits. | Feature photo: Derwin Chang