In my opinion, the humble square bill crankbait is one of the lure fishing options in the freshwater fisherman’s arsenal for a whole bunch of reasons.
It’s interesting just how a simple design change like switching from the more common and popular rounded diving lip to a square lip can make such a big difference to performance. Square bills give a slightly deeper diving depth, a more erratic action and, of course, are famed for being very snag resistant.
Making A Square Bill Crankbait
The square billed crankbait pictured in this article is known as the “Lil’ Tuffy” and is one of my crankbait masterclass project lures, so if you’re interested in making a few you’ll find templates and video tutorials for it there. It’s 70mm in length and has a low tone rattle for superior fish attraction.
You’ll notice that it also has a slightly oversized lip compared to the average square bill crankbait in this size range, and that the lip is dished out. These features give the lure a slightly greater diving depth, but most importantly they cause it to have an erratic action and give it even greater snag resistance than standard square bill cranks.
When you’re building a square bill crankbait you need to remember the end use: They’re usually designed for throwing into the thickest, gnarliest cover and smacking into wood and structure as much as you can. So everything about them needs to be made tough. Here are a few tips from my experience:
- Balsa is super buoyant, which makes for a very snag resistant square bill crankbait. But it’s also very prone to denting. It’s worth accepting that your lures will get battered if your first priority is catching fish.
- Cedar or other slightly harder timbers are a good compromise. They are more resistant to denting, but the trade-off is slightly less snag resistance.
- You’ll need some pulling power to get a fish out of heavy cover, so use a through wire and make sure your hooks and rings are up to the task.
- Choose Lexan (polycarbonate) only for the lip, and make it a little thicker than you might normally. They’re the most susceptible part of a square bill crankbait that is going to be smacked into timber constantly.
- Make sure that your wood is properly sealed and waterproofed. The paint is going to get chipped in this style of fishing, leaving your lure prone to waterlogging.
- I wouldn’t use anything but epoxy for the clear coat on these, and I’d make sure it has a couple of really good coats.
In terms of other design and construction considerations there isn’t that much more to a square bill crankbait than most other styles of cranks. Just make them tough to take a beating!