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Crankbaits, Jerkbaits and Rattle Baits

Moving Up from the Bottom


General information: The Crankbait is a diving lure designed to represent forage fish. The diving depth is determined by the size and angle of the lip. Crankbaits can run in one foot of water to 20-feet of water in many conditions, which makes it as versatile as fishing with a worm. Crankbait manufactures note the diving range on the package of their containers. Characterized by a darting and wobbling motion, most crankbaits float to the surface at rest. In addition to their life-like animations, a secondary advantage of the crankbait is that they are extremely snag resistant, as the lip and bulbous body serve as a deflecting shield for the attached treble hooks. Hard body Jerkbaits are generally more streamline to represent shad baits. They have the same characteristic diving bill and perform very similar to the crankbaits. The primary difference between a crankbait and a jerkbait is found in the two names. Crankbaits are designed to be cranked at a consistent retrieval speed; whereas as Jerkbaits are generally fished on the surface or in shallow water conditions with the retrieval incorporating quick jerks to the lure. (Yes, there are soft plastic jerkbaits as well.) Before you randomly select crankbaits or hard-bodied jerkbaits for largemouth bass, research the type and size of the predominant baitfish in your local waters. Long casts provide a longer retrieve for the targeted depth of the lure. Rattlebaits, as the name suggests, are hollow bodied diving lures with shot added to the body cavity. They do not float, and they are lipless. Aside from their appealing gyrations, Rattletraps add sound to their fish catching appeal, and their slanted nose protects them from snags and debris. Because of their weight, they may also be used to jig the bottom.

Line size: 15 to 17 pound monofilament line is most common.
Colors: The colors and patterns are endless. Research your waters for the most predominant forage fish to help in pattern selection.

Presentation: Make long casts in order to achieve the diving depth the lure is designed to reach.
Tip: In addition to keeping hooks sharp after run-ins with snags, a crankbait can be tuned to run left or right, which is an advantage when fishing the shady side of a dock or pilings.

Spinnerbaits / Buzzbaits
General information: Popularized in the 1960’s, Spinnerbaits have been referenced in catalogs and literature since the late 1800’s. As the name implies, the jig-type bait is attached to a v-shaped wire. At the base of one side of the “V” is the jig body with hook and an attached skirt usually made of rubber or plastic. The other side of the “V” is reserved for the spinner blades (one or two). The spinnerbait is most effective in the warmer months when bass are active, and it is an excellent searcher pattern in shallow water. The most popular spinnerbait is the ¼ oz. in black or white with a number 4 or 5 French or Colorado blade. Tournament angler and television host John Fox states in his video, How, When & Where to Catch Bass that thirty tournament professionals were asked the following question: If you had to select one lure to fish an unfamiliar lake, what lure would you select. Twenty-nine responded that they would choose the spinnerbait. Read Dave's review of John Fox's excellent national bestselling video on bass fishing.

Blades and blade finishes: (4)(5)(6) larger, rounder blades such as the Colorado blade keep the lure lifting upwards; use #2 and #3 blades to pull the lure deeper. The smaller willow leaf blades work best in grass or weeds with minimal vibration. (4) The Indiana blade is the intermediate choice. Blade finishes should be selected based on the clarity of the water. Silver or nickel reflects the most light, but one must be careful not to spook fish with too much flash. Hammered copper or brass is the most common choice for warm, slightly turbid water conditions. Select a dark or black blade for muddy or murky water where sound and silhouette is most important.

Skirts: chartreuse, white, black are the favorites.

Trailer hook (stinger): The trailer hook should be the same size as the spinner hook and placed so it is positioned upwards with a rubber keeper.

Added Dressings: Some anglers add a pork frog or pork eel.
Presentation: One advantage of a spinnerbait is that it can be retrieved slowly or quickly through a variety of conditions. It is an excellent lure for reflex strikes. Cast to the shady sides of cover, and don’t overlook bouncing the spinnerbait off a rock or branch and allowing the bait to flutter underwater before starting the retrieve. Smaller spinnerbaits are best used in cooler water in the spring or fall. Scale down in size and speed retrieval for cold water.

For a thorough presentation on fishing spinnerbaits, read Largemouth Bass an In-Fisherman Handbook of Strategies. (ISBN: 0-929384-11-3) or John Weiss’ book, The Bass Angler’s Almanac (ISBN: 1-58574-314-7. Read Dave’s review on his pick for best bass fishing books.

Buzzbaits: Similar to a spinnerbait, Buzzbaits have attitude. They’re great for shallow water fishing over flats with weeds barely reaching the surface. They are noisy, surface lures, and they are very effective when fished over active fish in off-colored water with temperatures of 60-degrees and up.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 21, 2007 5:22 PM.

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