Beginner’s Guide to Crankbaits

Crankbaits are an extremely versatile lure which can be used in most situations and particularly when trying to locate fish on unfamiliar watersheds.  A good selection of these baits is a must have for any angler looking to catch fish.  Crankbaits can be used to cover large amounts of water in a relatively short time period. There are four main types of crankbaits on the market today, lipless, shallow diving, deep diving and sinking.

Rat-L-TrapLipless crankbaits are just like the name says.  They don’t have a lip on the front of them and are generally made to sink at about one foot per second.  These are great for using in colder weather when fish are holding deep or less likely to chase a bait at the surface.  They also offer less wobble than the other crankbaits imitating a slugish bait fish in the colder months of the year.  There are four places to fish a lipless crankbait which can be very effective.

Submerged Vegetation – Find a good weed bed that is around 2-5 feet under the surface of the water and run the bait just across the top of it.  You may even want to bump the tops of the structure to get the fish to bite.

Stumps – Fish will hide and wait to ambush their prey.  This is where the stumps come into play.  Try to find a group of stumps close to an area that it slightly deeper.  Fish like to hide in these areas and will attack a lipless crankbait that goes through their territory.

Hard Bottom Areas – These areas are great to bump your lure across the bottom.  The fish will think that your lure is a disoriented baitfish in open water as it wriggles and bounces off the ground.

Points – Anywhere there is a point extending out into the water is a potential ambush point.  Just think about it like trench warfare, the larger fish will swim along one side of the structure waiting for their unsuspecting prey to come over the top and be gulped up in no time.

Shallow CrankbaitShallow diving crankbaits are a popular type of crankbait available for anglers.  They come in many shapes and sizes.  Short and fat, long and skinny and even with different lip styles.  They generally dive from 0-8 feet deep.  The example on the right is a square lipped bait which provides a more erratic wobble than the standard rounded lip.  Shallow crankbaits are best fished around docks and protruding cover or in shallow water where deeper divers would get snagged.  For fishing around docks it can be effective to run the bait under or just next to the shaded sections where fish will be waiting to strike.  The shallow running crankbaits can be fished in many of the same locations and situations as the lipless baits.

Deep CrankbaitDeep running crankbaits are another option to think about.  These are best used in the summer when the weather is warm and the fish are holding deep.  There are a few key areas to fish the deep diving baits that will really produce fish.  They are submerged humps, long points and flats, drop offs and creek channels that run down coves.

Submerged humps – Try running the bait across these types of structures.  Fish cant resist a crankbait banged across the bottom and bouncing off of structure.  This resembles an injured or dying bait fish that is just screaming to be eaten.

Long Points and Flats – Use these baits to cover a large deep area by either running it through the open flats or across long points perpendicular to the structure.  Fish tend to wait on either side ready to ambush fish that come across.  They can also be run parallel to the point drawing strikes from fish stacked up on either side.

Drop Offs – These are one of my favorites.  Try to cast so that you are dragging the bait off of the ledge and into the deeper section.  This can get fish that hide along the deep side of the ledge in preparation of a lost bait fish.

Creek Channels – These are prime feeding grounds to begin with as they tend to wash nutrients and other food for bait fish down into the main lake area.  Bait fish will stack up here making it a prime location for deep diving baits.

Sinking CrankbaitThe last and often overlooked type is the sinking crankbait.  These are the ultimate demons of the deep.  You won’t be using these to catch spawning fish in the shallows.  These are best used in open water with little or no cover to get snagged on.  These can be used in situations where the deep divers just aren’t quite deep enough.  Generally speaking, you will be able to get the job done most of the time with the first three baits listed in this article.  Just don’t count out the sinking variety as they can produce when fish are holding the bottom and tough to locate.


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