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Fish Fry Guy

When to Crankbait

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I have a variety of crankbaits but tend to use them only when I go up north in the BWCA due to the lack of weeds up there. In the metro, it seems that many of the lakes are too packed with weeds and a worm or other plastic is better suited. Do you metro guys use crankbaits in weeds too? And just pick off the weeds when snagged (seems like every other cast)? I seem to have the best luck w/crankbaits when they bounce off cover, non-weed cover that is. I usually fish the NE metro lakes. I guess, in short, how often do you throw cranks? And when/where do you throw them?

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Deep weed edges are great for working cranks, as well as any defined edge. The most important edge a lot of people forget about is the top edge and it is often overlooked. Last night on a NE Metro lake, my buddy and I tossed nothing but shallow cranks over the top of sparce curly pondweed and tore the bass up. We caught 30-35 fish in an hour and then moved to some unproductive water for a while. Tossing shallow diving cranks like a Mann's baby 1- can make a dull day a lot of fun. I was even able to sight fish the bass with cranks, now that is fun. I haven't done a lot of deep cranking yet but plan to get more into it this year. I have already boated my first couple of deep crank fish this year, using some old Risto Raps on an outside edge in about 12' or so.

One thing about fishing cranks that I have really come to realize is this. Being set up for them with proper equipment will make it a lot easier and more fun to fish cranks. For crankin deep I am running a 7'-0" St. Croix Pro Glass rod with a Shimano Curado 200B38 spooled with 30lb spiderwire. When pulling a crank that dives deeper than say 4 feet, the rod loads up nicely during the retrieve and if weeds build up, I can just give a nice long sharp sweep and clear the weeds for the most part. It also makes it a lot easier to play the fish and they set the hook in themselves when they hit because the rod is already loaded up. For the shallow cranks yesterday, I was using a 6'-6" MH Diawa Heartland-X with a Curado 200B and 30lb spiderwire. This rod doesn't load up quite right with the shallow crank, but it works very well with them still. I just have to be more careful on the hookset.

The best thing you can do is practice. Get out there and try it. Last night my buddy really fish cranks for his first time, and he is hooked. On the ride home he was telling me it was nice to focus on something he wasn't confident in and build up the confidence level so he can become a more versatile angler. That is what it is all about right there.

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In Minnesota any point during bass season you could catch them on cranks. You just need to think about your lure selection not just pick up the same one that you always do. In the spring the fish are probably shallow so that cuts out alot of baits. In the spring many people also prefer flat sided cranks or more subtle cranks not big, wide wobbling traditional bass baits.

As the season progresses your options grow. At this point in the season I would bet that you can get fish on any crank in your box from the shallow diver to the deepest divers.

When it comes to actually cranking it sounds like you're aware they usually produce better when making contact with cover which is tricky with weeds.

Most of the time the way I go about cranking weeds is to first decide if I want to fish the tops or weed edge. In both cases I try to find a bait that will get down to the strike zone without running too deep bogging in the weeds. When Ive found a bait that will work where Im fishing I start cranking till I hit weeds then usually a pause to allow the bait to float up and out of the weeds. If ive gotten stuck a quick rip should help free me and possibly trigger a strike. Many people dont run cranks around weeds because of the frustration but its effective.

You'll always get some weeds but with practice you should get plenty of bass, too.

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When fishing weeds with a crankbait, don't think about "cranking", think about walking the lure through the weeds. You have to know how deep the weeds are and how deep the crank will run

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Another tip for fishing cranks in weeds is use a bit stiffer rod and braid to rip the weeds free when snagged and you will get snagged. If I use my eglass rod on the weeds it's too much of a noodle to rip free and I just pull up weeds. Eglass is great on the rocks in the river though.

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Tonkabass makes a very very good observation. I fish deep cranks on weedlines a lot - it's probably my favorite way to fish largemouths. It takes a lot of concentration and attention to details like lure running depth and cast placement. I use a deep diving crank to basically feel my way down a weedline, casting parallel or slightly into where I think the weedline is, then walking the bait carefully through the edge. Weed edges are seldom uniform in density or depth. What we tend to think of as a wall of weeds is usually a pretty ragged edge with high and low spots and all kinds of little points and fingers. With a deep diving crank you can feel your way along those and locate the little points or inside turns that hold little groups of fish during the summer. It's almost like having a depth finder out in front of you. Amazing what you can learn, and you end up finding all the little stuff along a weedline that you can drop shot or cast a jig to once you've worked it over with a crank.

But you do have to concentrate. If you cast too far up on the flat you weed out, and your cast is over before it starts. When you're in mid-retrieve, you have to concentrate on the feel of the lure, and be ready to stop the retrieve as soon as you feel your bait starting to hit a weed stalk. If you can stop right away, you can usually float the bait free, or shake it loose if it hangs up a little (at least with coontail or cabbage. If it's bladderwort, it clings to everything. Man I hate that stuff) At worst you can most often snap it free. If you aren't paying attention and really pile into the weeds though, you're usually cooked and the cast gets wasted.

Part of this is being really conscious of lure running depth, and picking a bait that will just tick the weed tops. Sometimes it can mean doing some lure switching as you move from spot to spot. Tackle is a factor too. I use a very long rod and make casts as long as I can make them most of the time. I use 12# Fluoro most of the time, but if the coontail's really thick later in the season I will switch to #20 braid.

Rob Kimm

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