There are still plenty of rea­sons to use less fash­ion­able crank baits

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Lure Tactics - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

LURE ex­pert David Watkins-Smith reck­ons early sea­son it pays to be a hard man, rather than a softie – in lure-fish­ing terms that is. With the preda­tor world turn­ing to soft baits, David con­sid­ers that hard lures are still hugely rel­e­vant, par­tic­u­larly in sum­mer. Known as ‘re­ac­tive’ baits, hard lures such as crank baits, tend to il­licit ag­gres­sive at­tacks more read­ily be­cause un­like drop shot­ting, where the lure is worked in one area, hard lures need to be con­stantly re­trieved to pro­duce their ‘ac­tion’. “Most lures are only coloured, hard or soft bod­ied items; it is the an­gler that re­ally brings them to life,” David told us. “The beauty of crank baits is that they are very user-friendly. At­trac­tive to all preda­tors – pike, perch, zan­der and chub – you are able to sim­ply cast one out and wind it straight back in if you want. The lure’s body shape and its lip size and an­gle will do all the fish-catch­ing work for you. “But, by speed­ing up, slow­ing down, paus­ing and/or flick­ing the rod, you can im­part even more er­ratic move­ment into the lure; some­thing I guar­an­tee will put more fish on the bank.”

Shape makes a dif­fer­ence

Cranks baits come in a va­ri­ety of shapes and sizes from long and thin to short and fat. The tar­geted quarry will dic­tate the size and body shape to a de­gree. For chub, David uses short, stubby mod­els up to 5cm, ei­ther ones which float, so they skip en­tic­ingly across the sur­face or ones with short, shal­low noses de­signed to dive to a max­i­mum of 40cm. For jack pike, perch and zan­der he will go larger, up to 12cm, us­ing ones that dive slightly deeper, so more wa­ter is cov­ered. “If the bot­tom is clean, I of­ten use deep divers (ones you are able to ‘crank’ down

to 7ft in a 5ft swim, for ex­am­ple) so the nose scrapes and bumps along the floor on the re­trieve, throw­ing up puffs of silt that re­sem­ble feed­ing prey fish,” ex­plained David. “It is a lit­tle trick that has helped me put quite a few bonus fish on the bank.” Body shape is what makes each crank bait dis­tinct. A short stubby body will cre­ate a very tight wob­ble, while a longer, thin­ner body will pro­duce a lazier less er­ratic ac­tion. The key to suc­cess is try­ing to dis­cover what pro­duces the at­tack trig­ger on any given day – a fast, tight wob­ble or a slower, more rolling swim­ming ac­tion. Species-wise, perch and chub tend to pre­fer the tighter wob­ble and the high-pitch vi­bra­tion pro­duced from small stubby lures, whereas pike seem to pre­fer the slower wob­ble of a larger lure. To com­pare the two types to sound waves, stubby lures emit tre­ble, while the longer, thin­ner lures cre­ate more of a longer, deeper bass tone. This is pos­si­bly why sev­eral species are at­tracted by the dif­fer­ent body shapes. “There is no magic catchall lure shape,” said David. “Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent; hence the rea­son why so many lure an­glers carry many dif­fer­ent pat­terns.”

Big nose!

Nose pro­file is the other com­po­nent that af­fects how a crank bait be­haves. The size and an­gle of the nose will af­fect how deep it will dive when re­trieved. The harder you crank the bait back, the deeper it will dive. On a river such as the Great Ouse, tar­get­ing perch, jacks and chub, David uses crank baits with short noses that only dive to a max­i­mum of around two feet. “Un­like soft baits, which are al­lowed to sink be­fore they are worked back, crank baits ei­ther sink slowly or float, so they work from the top down,” ex­plained David. “Preda­tors will see the sil­hou­ette and come up to at­tack. One thing I’ve had a lot of suc­cess do­ing is to cast and leave the bait on the sur­face for a few sec­onds be­fore re­triev­ing. The num­ber of chub I’ve had af­ter only one or two turns of the reel is in­cred­i­ble. It re­ally is a great tip when us­ing crank baits.” The other thing David likes re­gards his crank baits is to use ones that fea­ture in­ter­nal rat­tles. This is an­other fea­ture that will help ig­nite a preda­tor’s at­tack re­sponse. David reck­ons that you only re­ally need a few crank baits to start with. A shal­low diver in both muted and hi-viz colours and the same in a deep div­ing pat­tern. “As you be­come more ex­pe­ri­enced, you build up your col­lec­tion to in­clude lures of var­i­ous shapes, sizes and colours but, as a start­ing point, these four ba­sic types are per­fect. The main thing is to cover as much wa­ter as you can, and en­joy do­ing it,” he con­cluded.

Long-nosed lures (left) dive deeper than ones with shorter noses which tend to shimmy higher up Fluoro­car­bon lead­ers are best for perch and chub but, if there are pike around, use a wire trace David al­ways car­ries a range of sizes and colours of crankbaits be­cause ev­ery ses­sion is dif­fer­ent

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