November 16, 2021
In this three-part series, Paul Mueller discusses the different situations, phases of the fall turn over and different lakes where a crankbait will succeed. A crankbait, in general, is very easy to use, but it can be technical and will require attention to detail. It's an important tool like anything else, and depending on the water, cover and how deep the fish are, choosing the correct shallow-, medium- or deep-diving crankbait can make or break your fishing trip.
The fall transition period when the lakes begin to turn over can be a challenging time of year to fish. Even after, fish tend to remain close to cover and a reaction bite is the best way to get bites. With a variety of cover for bass to choose from—grass, rock, and wood—the versatility of a crankbait will get it done when other baits cannot.
In Part 2, Mueller takes us through medium-diving crankbaits and under what circumstances he opts for these rather than a shallow or deep diver.
The diving depth for medium diving crankbaits vary depending on the lake. In shallower lakes, the depth maybe deeper than 4 feet, while in deeper lakes may be 8 to 10 feet. Regardless, Mueller is looking to utilize medium diving baits for mostly straight rock. Some lakes may have some grass as well, and areas with a rock-and-grass mix that will hold more bait.
“In the fall, the bass get off the shad and onto crawfish heavy. I am focusing on areas with a heavy concentration of rock as the bait will be close by,” he said. “I look for areas with close access to deeper water, but the fish will be in that shallow- to medium-depth range.”
Here are some of Mueller’s favorite shallow running crankbaits.
Depps Evoke 1.8
Diving Depth: 4 to 6 feet
“When I need a different action, I like the Evoke 1.8 a lot. It's just different – the bill angle, line tie, and shape. The body is more curved than others and it hunts differently. It features a unique looking bill, like a long squarebill.”
Diving Depth: 5 to 7 feet
“The Ima Pinjack is a shallower bait in the medium diving range but it fits that range better than shallow. This bait comes through everything well—rock, grass, and wood—it won't fowl like some others when you get it around grass. If I need to get the bait deeper, I will swap to 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon.”
PH Customs Little Diver
Diving Depth: 4 to 6 feet
“The PH Customs Little Diver is a balsa bait and is also shallower in the medium category. When I am fishing straight rock and no grass, this bait shines,” he said. “The action when it comes through rock is unmatched and cannot be duplicated with plastic baits.
PH Customs Little Thumper
Diving Depth: 6 to 8 feet
“Similar to the Little Diver in description, I like the Little Thumper when I just need a little more depth,” he explained. “It’s a plastic bait but still has the deflection characteristics I like for this depth range. When I have to hit deeper rock, I like to tie this one on.”
Depps Evoke 2.0 and 3.0
“When fish are position in the top of a large milfoil or coontail flat, or areas with big clumps, both of these baits shine,” Mueller said. “Say the grass is down 4 to 7 feet, I will burn both of these over the grass, speed crash the clumps and rip it free. Sometimes you want a standard profile, and sometimes the bigger profile will trigger a bigger bite, the 2.0 and 3.0 are perfect for this scenario.”
For colors, Mueller keeps it simple and looks for natural looking crankbaits when the water is clear and if it has some stain, chrome and chartreuse baits get the call.
With squarebills and shallow-running crankbaits, Mueller also prefers a Dobyns 735CB paired with the same Lews BB1 Pro in a 6.4:1 ratio.
“With both shallow and medium divers, my set up is the same. The only thing that changes is the line and I still like that 14-pound test range, as you can get the true running depth accomplished with that size. With heavier plugs I will increase the line to match.”