When it comes to fishing tournaments from a single launch with 30 other anglers, or not having the option to run 10 miles up lake to another spot, throwing a crankbait is the most efficient and productive way to find bass from a kayak. Crankbaits allow depths from 6 inches down to 25 feet to be fished quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s a reservoir, river system, or small private water, my go-to search bait is always a crankbait.
I get many questions in regards to how to throw crank baits in cover, especially in shallow water with wood or rock. How do I prevent from getting hung up? What’s the best bait to use? What’s the best color? I will answer these questions, but first, here’s a quick fishing story.
I was pre-fishing for a tournament on Chickamauga Lake, and I found a stretch of stumps in 2-6 feet of water. I started to fish with a jig, then a Texas rigged worm and found nothing, not even a sniff. I knew the fish had to be there getting ready for the spawn, so I started throwing a Strike King KVD 1.5 square bill and caught a 3.5 pounder on my second cast. I immediately stopped fishing with the hope that the fish would be there when it would count. On tournament day, I caught a nice limit and got second place while fishing a 50 yard stretch bouncing the crankbait off stumps. The key was getting the reaction bite when the fish wouldn’t take a jig or worm. The quick change of direction triggers the bass to bite.
Now to address the questions I most often answer about crankbait fishing. Occasionally, I will get hung up on structure, but the technique is to use a medium to medium heavy action rod paired with a square bill crankbait. The flex in the rod along with the shape of the bill lets the bait deflect off cover instead of hanging.
While working close to the shallow cover, I use a short underhand cast to land the bait just past the stumps or rocks, then reel while staying in contact with the cover. If I feel the bait start to hang, I will stop my retrieve and more than likely it will float out. When it comes to retrieve speed, I like to make 4 or 5 fast turns of the handle to get the bait down to the cover or the bottom. Like I mentioned earlier, the rod is very important, so for shallow cranking, an APX 7′ Medium Heavy Cranking from All Pro Rods is my rod of choice.
For deep cranking, I will cast way past my target to make sure the bait gets down. Even in 15 feet of water, I like the bait to have contact with the bottom for as long as possible. For deep cranking, the APX Blaster 7′ 10″ medium or medium heavy is perfect for making long casts while getting the bait down deep.
So, what’s the best bait? What’s the best color? There are many options here, but the following are a few of my favorites. It’s broken down into depths from shallow (2 ft. to 8 ft.) to deep (10 ft. to 16 ft.).
Shallow Timber/Rocks with Stained water:
Strike King KVD 1.5 or 2.5 in Chartreuse, Bluegill, or DB Craw (10lb – 20lb Fluorocarbon)
Shallow Timber/Rocks with clear water:
Strike King KVD 1.5 in Sexy Shad. (10lb to 15lb Fluorocarbon)
Rapala DT-6 in Helsinki Shad or Silver. (10lb to 15lb Fluorocarbon)
Rapala Shad Rap #5 in Helsinki Shad or Silver. (6lb to 10lb Fluorocarbon)
Deep Structure/Stained Water:
Strike King 5XD in Chartreuse body or Citrus Shad. (12lb to 15lb Fluorocarbon)
Rapala DT-10/DT-14 in Fire Tiger or Chartreuse Lime. (12lb to 15lb Fluorocarbon)
Deep Structure/Clear Water:
Rapala DT-10/DT-14 in Helsinki Shad or Silver. (10lb to 15lb Fluorocarbon)
Rapala Shad Rap #8 in Helsinki Shad or Silver. (8lb to 12lb Fluorocarbon)
Once I have located a good concentration of fish I will always go back to the same stretch with a worm or jig. The crankbait helps me find fish quickly and efficiently. I hope this will give you confidence while throwing your favorite lure into a pile of timber. Just remember, if you aren’t hitting anything, you aren’t catching anything.
Power Team Lures Pro Staff
Photos by Mike Ernst Bostic Photography