In this article we’ll look at how to make lures, especially crankbaits, that are resistant to hanging up in snags. One of the best lure fishing tips I got as a kid starting out in lure fishing was “If you’re not getting snagged occasionally, you’re missing lots of fish”.
Never have truer words been spoken. Many species of fish just love structure, and will often hole up in places you’d rather not toss lures.
Actually, most crankbaits are more snag resistant than you might think from looking at the shiny trebles. But knowing how to make lures that have a little extra snag resistance can make fishing those gnarly areas more productive and less stressful! And knowing how to use a crankbait around snags doesn’t hurt, either!
5 Tips: How To Make Lures That Pull Fish From Snags
Tip #1: Squarebills Aren’t Always The Best Option
Squarebill crankbaits are often thought of as being THE hard bodied lure for fishing brush piles and fallen trees. In theory, the corners of the diving lip tends to strike snags and dig in, deflecting the lure sideways and out of danger of getting hung up.
My experience doesn’t reflect this. I’ve been experimenting with exactly how to make lures for fishing snag piles for some time. And I haven’t found square bill cranks to be any more or less snag resistant than other lip styles. In fact, for fishing really heavy cover I actually prefer a round lip. Here’s why:
When a squarebill deflects off a snag it tends to be thrown a few inches to a foot or so to the side. In really heavy cover, this can put the lure straight into the next bit of structure! I’ve found that rounded diving lips tend not to deflect as much. So my lures tend to hug the snags more, allowing me to crawl them through some tight situations. Coffin lips are somewhere between squarebills and round lips in terms of deflection.
I generally prefer round bills for really tight situations and square bills for fishing areas that are dotted with laydowns, stumps and so on.
Tip #2: Use Buoyancy And Weight To Your Advantage
It can be really handy if you know how to make lures that can back out of snags. Many diving lures can be made to do this by using really buoyant timber and weighting them carefully near the belly. Keep the weight just under the skin and slightly forward for best effect.
To fish these lures, cast them beyond your target structure so that they have time to get to the working depth before they are in the zone. The instant you feel the line or lure hit structure just pause the retrieve for one to two seconds and drop the rod tip to give them some slack line. When you do this, the lures won’t just float up, they’ll also float backwards slightly. When you resume your retrieve they usually swim safely over the snag.
I prefer braided line and a long fluorocarbon leader for this style of fishing. The braid allows me to detect when the lure strikes timber more easily. It also gives minimum stretch in a situation where the fish often can’t be given an inch. Fluorocarbon protects again loss of fish as a result of abrasion.
Tip #3: Head Down Swimming
A lure that has a “head-down” orientation tends to shield the hooks from striking timber. So if you know how to make lures with this action you’ll find the snags far less daunting.
The head-down orientation is caused by a combination of factors, including the angle of the diving lip, the location of the towpoint and the weighting. Here are some tips on how to make lures that have this orientation:
- Weighting lures so that they sit slightly head-down when they are floating at rest is a good start. Careful not to overdo it, you don’t want a lure that hangs vertically
- Many lipless crankbaits have a head down attitude due to the placement of the tow point.
- A horizontal or near horizontal diving lip will create a head-down action. This is often seen in deep diving lures, where the length of the lip is what gets them to great depths. But for fishing shallow snags a deep diver will only cause hangups. Here I use a smaller, wider diving lip set horizontally. The angle creates a head down attitude in the water, the short lip reduces the diving depth and the extra width offsets the loss of action from the short lip
- A smaller, lighter hook on the tail will reduce the weight pulling the tail down during use.
Tip #4: The Importance Of Body Shape
This is one you’re gonna hafta experiment with as you figure out how to make lures that work well in the snags! Wider, chunkier lure bodies tend to have buoyancy that can help to float them out of trouble. They also tend to protect the hooks a little as the body strikes timber and swivels the hooks to the opposite side and out of danger.
On the other hand, these styles of lure also tend to have a wide, strong action, which can put the hooks in harms way at times.
Generally speaking, I’ve found fat body styles to be better options in the snags, depending on the target species. Snag resistance aside, these lures also tend to be pretty robust and handle heavy hooks and rings, which is important when you need to wrestle a tough fish from heavy cover.
Tip #5: Use Upward Facing Double Hooks
Perhaps the use of double hooks is more of a “how to fish” than a “how to make lures” kind of tip. But I’m including it here because it might influence your design in other ways.
Making the switch to double hooks is always a controversial move. Some folks love them, others hate them. The advantages of double hooks are:
- You can attach them so that the points are both facing upwards. The front hook rides snug to the underside of the lure body, the rear one usually swings free, but still with the points up. This works in much the same way as a lead jig, keeping the points out of danger and allowing the lure to “slide” over snags without getting hung up.
- Double hooks don’t require split rings for attachment, so they sit closer to the lure and don’t swing as far out to the sides, reducing snagging potential. It also reduces the weight, giving the lure more snag hopping buoyancy.
- Double hooks are stronger than trebles, making them great for wrestling fish from cover.
The flip side is: hook set rates tend to be lower when using double hooks than trebles. That’s offset by the number of extra strikes you can get by targeting fish in super heavy cover where others aren’t tossing their prize lures. So you need to weight up the double hook argument for yourself!
How To Connect With Fish In Snags
It’s one thing knowing how to make lures for fishing in deep cover. It’s another thing again knowing how to fish with them. Here are a couple of tips:
- Remember: If you’re not getting hung up in snags occasionally, you’re probably missing fish!
- Some hard body lures are better than others in snags, but none are snag proof. Carry a tackle retriever and accept the occasional lost lure as the price of better fishing.
- Practice casting until you can confidently land your lures exactly where you want them. There often isn’t much room for error in this style of fishing.
I hope this helps you develop some awesome lures for fishing the woodwork!
Please Check Out My Crankbait Masterclass For More About Wooden Lure Making