August 26, 2022
By Ross Robertson
Fishing and crankbaits go together like peanut butter and jelly. A crankbait’s ability to catch larger fish work is true nearly year around, and in so many different situations it’s likely why they are trusted by so many anglers. It’s fun talking about the plethora of styles, sizes and color options we have as anglers, but can be like opening Pandoras box.
Instead, here are five simple but effective factors to help improve your crankbait fishing.
1. Terminal—Most fisherman use some type of terminal tackle to attach the crankbait instead of tying direct. This makes it much easier to change out models or colors, or maybe also for getting a tangle undone in the net. Most anglers don’t realize that by using too large of a clip can affect the lure’s action. A No. 1 or 2 duolock snap is perfect in most cases and better than using a snap swivel. Make sure, however, to attach the snap open-side up so the snap doesn’t wear on the bill and also effect the way it runs.
2. Extra Bling—Who doesn’t like extra bling? Grandmas still love to wear those shiny shoes and many of you have swapped out those regular truck and boat rims. The same could be said for crankbaits. VMC recently introduced a bladed treble hook for just this reason. They have been getting a lot of press from anglers putting them on ice lures and glide baits, but I can assure you they work amazingly well on crankbaits as well. The trick is to make sure you match the hook size properly to keep it in balance. Which hook should get the blinged-out treble hook is really something to think about. While most anglers seem to put it on the rear hook, the middle or front hook seem to help with balance and help reduce short strikes.
3. Line—We all worry about what color we have on, but not what fishing line we are using. Different crankbait types are often needed, but we forget the same is true when it comes to line. Line drastically affects the way a crankbait runs for both depth and action. Monofilament has extra stretch and helps increase your landing percentage, whereas fluorocarbon sinks and can give extra depth, but its less stretch can cause landing percentage to suffer.
Using different diameters of line can add or subtract several feet of diving depth also. If you want your lure to dive deeper, use a smaller diameter line, inversely use a larger diameter when less depth is needed to avoid hanging up.
The third main-line option is braid. When a significant amount of extra depth is needed braid is likely your best choice. The much smaller diameter provides less drag and can increase diving depth significantly. This does come at a price however. The very small amount of stretch that braid has causes lure action to be more aggressive and landing percentages are typically even worse than fluorocarbon.
4. Tune—Easily the biggest mistake crankbait anglers make is fishing a lure that isn’t properly tuned. An untuned crankbait won’t dive to the proper depth and has an unnatural look in the water. Hold the lure towards yourself and with a small pair of pliers slightly bend the lures eye the opposite way that the lure is running out of tune. When a lure is tuned properly it should go straight down and not wander left or right. The key to tuning is to make very slight adjustments, it doesn’t take much movement at all to take an out of tune lure into proper adjustment
5. Leaky Ship—If you fish crankbaits long enough you are going to wear them out. With plastic models this often means catching enough fish that the eyes where the split rings are attached become loose, often around the hook. The problem is when the hook hanger becomes loose the bait can take on water and cause poor action—or if left to go long enough the bait will just sink. Look for rust around these points or inside the lure itself if it is semi transparent at all.
The same problem can exist with balsa lures in a different way. Teeth marks on a bait look cool and remind us the bait is a winner. The problem is that over time this allows the bait to soak up water and if left long enough it can alter the action. Simply taking a few drops of super glue to help seal out the moisture can help give the lure some extra life.
There certainly are more than five things that you need to consider when crankbait fishing, but when you have these five handled it will make your crankbait fishing much easier and more productive.
Capt. Ross Robertson