Deep diving crankbaits are a special type of fishing lure, both in terms of their design and how they are fished. And they’re an area of particular difficulty for newbies to lure making. So in this article we’ll cover tips and advice for designing handmade wooden lures that dive deep.
For tips on fishing deep diving crankbaits (and other crankbait styles), check out my Kindle eBook here.
Tip #1: Don’t Buy Into The Diving Lip Angle Myth
Some folks will want to tell you that to make a crankbait run deeper, simply angle the diving lip closer to horizontal. Bollocks! That’s one of the oldest myths about making deep diving lures – and it holds a lot of newbies back.
Deep diving crankbaits almost always have a diving lip that’s close to horizontal, that’s true. But that’s not actually what makes a deep diving lure work – at least, not on it’s own!
Changing the angle of the diving lip is useful because it changes the angle that the oncoming water acts on the lip. This affects the attitude of a diving lure: A horizontal lip gives the lure a “head-down” attitude and a steep rate of dive. A vertical one gives lures a “head up” attitude and a lure that takes longer to get to maximum depth.
What really makes a deep diving crankbait work is the combination of diving lip angle and diving lip size (especially length) and tow point configuration and body shape and internal weighting together.
Tip #2: Length Matters, Ladies.
All other factors equal, what’s needed to turn a shallow diving lure into a deep diving crankbait is more downward force. And the way to get more downward force is by using a longer diving lip. A longer lip has more surface area, so it catches the oncoming water more and creates greater downward force.
Why a longer lip and not a wider one? Well, widening the lip also increases the surface area, that’s true. But it tends to encourage the lure to roll to the side and spill the extra force. This gives a stronger wobble but doesn’t usually increase the dive depth too much.
Tip #3: Relocate The Tow Point
Many lipped crankbaits have a tow point located on the nose of the lure. But the tow point is like a fulcrum, and a long diving lip can make the lure action too unstable if the tow point is too far back. Moving it to the diving lip is is a good way to overcome this problem. It’s something you’ll often see on deep diving crankbaits – and quite a few medium diving lures as well.
Moving the tow point forward reduces the action and stabilizes the lure. But move it too far forward and you can kill the action completely, so it’s a case of finding that sweet spot. Exactly where that is varies from one diving lure to the next and depends on all the other factors we’ve already discussed – and those we’re yet to cover.
Trial and error is the rule of the day when it comes to finding the perfect tow point location for deep diving crankbaits.
Tip #4: Weighting Deep Diving Crankbaits
There’s a natural assumption that adding weight to deep divers is about overcoming the buoyancy of the wood. But actually, it’s about balancing the action. And where you place the weight in the lure can be just as important as how much weight you use. And moving the weight backward or forward can affect both the action and diving depth, even if the amount of weight hasn’t changed!
Weighting your deep diving crankbaits does two things:
- It stabilizes the action. A bait that contains a little lead in the belly resists rolling onto it’s side. And that resistance to rolling allows the bait to work with a larger diving lip
- It angles the diving lip into the oncoming water and maximizes the rate of decent. This ensures the lure catches the water properly at the very start of the retrieve.
So here are the general principles for weighting deep diving lures:
- Placing the weight too far back towards the tail will cause the lip to be too horizontal at the start of the retrieve. Your hard baits will be slow to dive, have an unnatural “head up” orientation and won’t get as deep as they should.
- Placing your weight too far forward at least ensures the diving lip will create immediate action and a fast decent. But the lure will be a little “head down”. This is not always a bad thing, but can reduce the maximum depth your lure reaches.
The exact location of the sweet spot varies from lure to lure. But one thing is always true: It’s always somewhere in the front 1/3 of the lure body. And, to a point, it’s better for the weight to be further forward, rather than further backward.
Tip #5: Optimizing The Body Shape Of Deep Diving Lures
The shape of the lure body also has an effect on the maximum diving depth of your lures.
For example, chunky body shapes create drag and increase buoyancy. Your lure must fight these forces in order to attain maximum depth.
On the other hand, minnow and shad style lure bodies are more streamlined, allowing the diving lip to do its job better. Properly weighted, flat sided crankbaits are great styles for deep diving lures. I talk more about this in a previous article on making crankbaits.
Tip #6: Bullet-Proof Your Diving Lips
To stabilize lure action, the lips on deep diving lures are often narrow at the point where they enter into the lure body. This is a weak point that comes under pressure during a tough battle. And if the diving lip snaps, both fish and lure are lost.
Commercial lure makers reinforce the underside of the diving lip, which is easy when the lip is molded into a plastic lure body. But it’s a little more challenging for wooden lure bodies fitted with flat polycarbonate lips.
Years ago, I started wiring deep diving lures from the tow point on the lip to the tail. I’m not the first to this idea…… but it’s served me well, so it was time to share!
My process involves drilling a couple of small holes in the diving lip where the tow point will go. Next I bend the through wire in and around the lip. And then I glue the through wire and diving lip into my diving lure body as a single unit. Hopefully the above pic is self explanatory.
The idea is simple. Even if the diving lip breaks, the fish can still end up as a wall mount! But once I’d put it to the test I found that the through wire actually reduced diving lip breakages. And with balsa crankbaits I found it also reduced the chances of the body splitting.
One more tip: I prefer to annealed, 316 grade (marine) stainless steel wire for this. TIG welding filler wire works well. Annealed stainless wires are harder to bend, but are less springy. This stiffens the diving lip, giving better dive depths and a stronger lure overall.
When I set out to write this article, I really wanted to clear the air on some misconceptions. The diving lip angle one was the biggie! So if you now understand why diving lip angle is only part of the picture, you’re streets ahead of the rest of the pack. And I feel like I’ve done my job!
But remember, making quality wooden crankbaits is about getting all aspects of the lure design working together. And never more so than when we’re designing and making deep diving crankbaits.
Any time you push the lure making limits you know you’ll need to tweak, fine tune and persevere until you get results. Deep diving crankbaits are not the easiest to perfect, especially if you’re making them in the smaller sizes. But they’re effective fish takers and it’s well worth the time and effort to figure them out..