How To Use A Crankbait 101: The Fundamentals

How To Use A Crankbait

How To Use A CrankbaitThis is a very diverse group of lures, so knowing how to use a crankbait properly means understanding the various styles and what they’re designed for. What works for one style of crankbait is not necessarily going to work for another.

Fortunately, there are a few tips, tricks and secrets that apply no matter which type of crankbait you are fishing with, so we’ll cover those in this article.

But before we delve too deeply into how to use a crankbait, I recommend casting an eye over two of my previous articles. The first outlines all of the various types of fishing lures that can be made from wood – including the many styles of crankbaits. And the second addresses the question of “exactly what is a crankbait?” Reading these will ensure we’re all talking about the same group of lures!

Beginners Guide On How To Use A Crankbait

Note: Those looking for more advanced information about how to use a crankbait might be interested in my eBook “Mastering Crankbaits, Minnows And Other Fishing Plugs“. It contains over 100 tips for getting the best from this awesome group of lures.

The wide range of crankbait styles means they can be used effectively in a wide range of situations. Shallow runners, deep divers, countdown lures, lipless baits, brokebaits, square bills, wake baits and suspending jerkbaits mean there’s a crankbait for most fishing scenarios.

And crankbait fishing is as productive on coastal reefs as it is on inland lakes. It’s great in rivers, beaches, ponds, offshore, estuaries….. anywhere! So if you don’t know how to use a crankbait properly, you’re probably missing some pretty awesome fishing.

10 Quick Crankbait Fishing Tips For Beginners

Tip #1: Give Your Lure Some Freedom

If you’ve read my previous books or articles you’ll have heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again anyway. Don’t tie your crankbait to the leader using a knot that tightens snug. This can seriously reduce the action of your lure, especially if you’re using a heavy leader. A small snap (not a swivel) is an OK way to attach a crankbait to your line. But a small, non-slip loop knot like Lefty’s loop is even better because it doesn’t unbalance your lure as much as a snap.

Tip #2: Lighter Is Better

Never weight your crankbaits, and always use the lightest leader and line you can get away with. Any resistance to the movement of the lure will reduce it’s performance. Sometimes the use a heavier leader or a wire trace is unavoidable, but you may find that only certain lures will handle this.

Tip #3: Losing Lures Is Good

Ok, maybe not good. But definitely healthy! In many cases you’ll need to toss lures tight into heavy cover, deflect them off stumps, bounce them off structure or bump them on the bottom. If you’re not doing this then you’re probably not getting as many strikes as you should be. But of course, this style of fishing often creates “casualties of war”. Be fearless, carry a tackle retriever and give it a go. The best lure in the world is useless if you’re too scared to put it where the fish are!

Tip #4: Sound Isn’t What It Seems

It’s common when folks are first learning how to use a crankbait that the role and importance of sound is misunderstood. The main mistake is to assume that louder is always better – and that fish hear sounds the same way as we do. Neither one is necessarily true…… though sound certainly plays a big role in helping fish find your lure. Click here to get more of an explanation about how sound affects your strike rate. Generally speaking, fish hear and feel lower pitched sounds better than humans, so lures with one large knocker style rattle can often give you an edge.

Tip #5: Don’t Do The  “Cast and Crank”how-to-use-a-crankbait-nilsmaster

Crankbaits have a nice swimming action when they are dragged through the water at constant speed. A beautiful, uniform, consistent action. But when was the last time you saw an injured baitfish swim at constant speed in a straight line? Never! So mix up the cranking speed, twitch the rod tip, throw in a few pauses and generally shake it up. That’s how a baitfish looks, and it’s how to maximize your strikes!

Tip #6: Color Isn’t So Important After All

I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but for a range of reasons, color is often (though not always) the least important factor influencing whether a fish will strike. Yet it’s often the first thing that folks learning how to use a crankbait focus on. Forget it! Focus on the size, shape, action, dive depth and sound of your lures first, then worry about color later. Find out more about why fish don’t see your lures.

Tip #7: Crankbaits For Fishing Snags

Crankbaits are actually more snag resistant than most people imagine. The diving lip often hits logs, snags and the like first and causes the lure to deflect away. One of the common myths is that the good ol’ square bill crankbait is the only ones to use in heavy cover. The square corners often dig in and deflect the lure away from danger – but in heavy cover a big deflection could easily take them from the frying pan to the fire. I like squarebills in open cover like laydowns, but I prefer roundbills in brush piles. Roundbills tend to hug and crawl over the snags with smaller deflections.

More On How To Fish A Crankbait Here

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