How to Fish a Crankbait | Learning the basics

There are many tips and techniques on how to fish a crankbait. In this post I will try to cover all the basics you will need to know for catching fish on crankbaits. Crankbaits, if just cast out will float on the surface.

Due to their lip at the nose of the lure when you retrieve them they will dive down into the water. Then when paused they will slowly rise towards the surface again until you start the retrieve again. An action few fish can resist.

With a bit of practice a little perseverance and help with choosing the right lure you will soon be able to work your bait to the desired depth for fishing. All fish will sit at different depths in the water due to conditions such as weather and water temperatures.

A crankbait can aid you in getting to the right depth of water where the fish are at, and enticing them to strike at the lure.

Let’s start by looking at the kind of tackle you will need for fishing with crankbaits.

The Right Tackle for Fishing Crankbaits

If you are learning how to fish a crankbait you are going to need the right tackle for the job.

The Right Rod for Crankbaits

I have two rods for Crankbaiting. The Savage Gear Black Savage for my smaller crankbaits and a Shakespeare Uglystik for the larger baits.

A crankbait rod really wants to be a slow to medium action. You don’t want a rod that is too sensitive either. You want to be able to set those hooks well in the fish’s mouth.

The Right Reel for Crankbaits

I believe the Daiwa Ninja is a superstar when it comes to reels for crankbait fishing. They are a superb reel that is very fairly priced for the quality you get. They are super smooth and a very nice reel to use.

For my smaller crankbaits I use my Ninja 2000. When I am on bigger deeper waters I use my Ninja 4000 LT.

The Right Line for Crankbaits

If where you fish has lots of rocks and rough bottom, fluorocarbon may be your best bet because of its extra abrasion resistance.

If you want a bit more stretch in your setup to help stop hooks popping out then Monofilament may be a good shout.

If you are fishing a good distance out and the fish are striking the lure at a good way out then you will want to feel that strike. For this, I would use a braid.

The Right Hooks for Crankbaits

I love VMC hooks for almost all my lures. These hooks are extremely sharp and don’t cost the earth.

Most crankbaits will come with treble hooks attached to them. Personally, I’m not a big fan of trebles on my smaller cranks and prefer to change them to smaller inline hooks.

These help the single hooks sit properly on the split rings that come with the lures.

How Do I Make My Crankbait go Deeper?

A good way of getting the maximum depth out of your diving crankbait is to make longer casts. The longer the distance you can retrieve, the deeper your lure will dive. This is worth taking into account when you are learning how to fish a crankbait.

Another good tip is to use a longer rod than normal and get that rod tip right down in the water. This could give you a huge advantage in getting that lure closer to the bottom. Very handy in the colder months when the fish are generally deeper in the water.

The Strike King 10XD

The Deepest Diving Crankbait

As mentioned earlier sometimes you just need to get that bit deeper in the water. The two helpful tips above will help no end, but to achieve maximum depth make sure you start with the right type of lure. Generally speaking the bigger the lip on a crankbait, the deeper it will go. So you need to start by purchasing a big-lipped crankbait.

The Strike King 10XD is a perfect lure that fits this description. Armed with a big old lip this bad boy can dive to depths reaching around 25 ft. The 10XD is available to buy from any good stockists and is 4 inches in length and 2 oz’s in weight. Making it a perfect size for most species of predatory fish.

Are Lipless Crankbaits any Good?

Guess what a lipless crankbait is? Yep, it’s a crankbait without a lip. lipped crankbaits are buoyant and have the lip to help them dive down. A lipless crankbait hasn’t got the lip so these lures are not buoyant and are designed to sink gradually unaided. These lures kinda wobble instead when they are retrieved instead of diving down.

For this reason, when you cast one out you have to wait until the lure gets to your desired depth and then start the retrieve. Nearly all types of crankbait including the lipless version come with two treble hooks attached to them. I sometimes change these to single line through hooks to help with unhooking the fish.

This type of bait can be fished when none of your diving crankbaits can reach the depth you need. Especially in the colder months when the fish are closer to the bottom. Alternatively, you could do a fast retrieve as it hits the surface of the water. Proving deadly in the warmer months when the fish are near the surface.

Crankbait VS Jerkbait

Is there really any difference between a jerk bait and a crankbait? Well, they do seem quite similar and have very similar traits. When you look at a crankbait and a jerk bait the main difference you will notice is the body shape.

Crankbaits generally are shorter in appearance and a lot stubbier in their body shape. Jerk baits on the other hand are longer in appearance and are a lot slimmer in body shape than the jerk bait. 

Due to the general longer length of the jerk bait, these lures tend to have 3 sets of trebles attached to them, whereas the crankbaits usually have a set of two on them. These don’t need 3 sets because of the shorter body size.

As a general rule cranks have wider longer lips than their cousin the jerk. Therefore I use these for the deeper water. Jerks seem to come with lot smaller lips so they don’t dive as deep, I find these better to use in the first 3 ft of water.

Best Crankbait Rod Under $100

With so many decent brands of rods available nowadays this is a hard question to answer. Everyone will more than likely have their own preference and will stick by it, which is fair enough.

All I can do is go by my own experience. When I’m fishing small rivers and streams I like my rod between 6ft and 7 ft 6 inches. The reason for this is casting accuracy. As a rule the smaller the rod (within reason) the more accurate the cast will be. This is extremely beneficial when casting to the other bank next to snags and cover.

For this type of fishing, I like my Savage Gear Black Savage. This is a superb rod that is nice and light to use and comes in under $100 quite comfortably.

For big open waters such as big lakes and pits, I like to have a bit of a longer rod. The reason for this is castability. Basically, on the larger waters, you will want to cover more of an area whilst fishing with your crankbait. A longer rod will help you with this due to the leverage you will have with it when casting.

With this type of fishing, I like to use my Shakespeare Uglystik. These rods are great fun to use and are literally indestructible.

As mentioned earlier lots of people will have their own choices of the best crankbait rod under $100. These two are just my own personal favorites, they work well, last well and I love them.

To Conclude How To Fish A Crankbait

Once you learn the basics of how to fish a crankbait it is another good way of catching predators. With crankbaits allowing you to get down to depths of around 25 ft, they are a good bait for finding the fish in most waters. Have a play with them and try to find the depth that the fish are at. These, like most lures, will be a deadly method on the right day. 

Hopefully, this post has shed some light on the subject of crankbaits and will help you catch a few monsters. Tight lines and good luck!

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