Cranking is not for everyone. There are many reasons to avoid having to throw a crank. I can think of six reasons right of the bat. Secondly, the proper models cost more than a decent bottle of single malt. But make no mistake, if you don’t have a selecti
“Dredging The Depths” Cranking is not for everyone. There are many reasons to avoid having to throw a crank. I can think of six reasons right of the bat. – Divan Jurie Coetzee
Deep cranking is hard work... making a thousand odd casts a day with a heavy duty 7’11 cranking rod tends to ruin my evening somewhat. If I have to be honest, for me, it’s probably one of the most fool proof methods of catching bass, all it requires is for you to take an almighty swing, fling that sucker out as far as your tackle allows, and reel it straight back to the boat. That’s the easy part, the difficult part starts with establishing a viable pattern. Firstly you need to select areas that are within the running depth of the average deep diving crank, which is about 20ft. Fishing any deeper would not be as productive unless there is sufficient cover in the water column. Hitting bottom for as long as possible during the retrieve will get you the best results. If the bank you are fishing has a heavy slope, it is recommended to cast parallel with the shoreline to ensure that the bait runs in the preferred depth zone for a longer period of time. Using your electronics to establish what depth the fish are relating to will narrow down the zone you need to focus on. Without electronics, you have to do it the old fashioned way, start shallow and work your way deeper until you find something to guide you in the right direction. Persistence is key! Making ten casts and putting the rod back in the hatch is no good.
Selecting the correct bait to match the depth the fish are holding at is critical. There’s no point in throwing a 10ft bait in 20ft of water when the fish are relating to the bottom. One needs to over compensate with regards to depth. If the fish are sitting on the bottom at 20ft, then you need to tie on something that will go down to at least 27ft or more. Big cranks cover a long distance before hitting their stated depth, thus long casts are required to ensure bottom contact at some stage during the retrieve. If the fish are sitting in 15ft, throw a bait that goes down to 22ft... you get the picture. Once you have established what depth the bites are coming from it’s easy to duplicate the pattern in other areas.
Quality vs quantity
Not all crankbaits are created equal. Stay away from cheap imitations, they only pile up. Rather purchase proper quality baits and invest in a lure retriever as a matter of principle. Baits can successfully be recovered if used correctly and conditions allow. The fear of losing
an expensive bait obviously plays a major role, but that’s part of the package. The irony is that we spend a fortune on a proper selection and yet we all revert back to the same confidence baits every time, more than 80% of my hardbaits has not seen water in over three years, I’m sure many of you can relate.
There are two primary styles of crankbaits to choose from, round sided or flat sided. The fundamental difference between the two would be the hydrodynamic signature, the round sided bait would have a wider, more pronounced wobble, whilst the flat sided bait will have a much tighter action. Bill and head design also play a major role in terms of the depth gained versus the distance covered. The quicker the bait gets down the better.
Most deep diving crankbaits from several different companies are similar in profile and colour pattern. Tiny details separates the excellent from the average - a simple design tweak that reduces the amount of resistance the bait offers, making bite detection easier and takes strain off you and your gear.
To effectively be able to fish a deep diving bait you need a rod capable of wielding it. Some of the bigger baits weigh up to two ounces and requires an application specific rod. Standard 20ft baits don’t require special treatment, a 7’6 or 7’11 cranking rod should be fine. Reel choice is a personal thing along with line class. My advice would be to go as heavy as you can get away with. Twelve to 15lb would be a good general choice for large cranks.
In closing, deep water cranking remains one of the most effective ways to target summer bass. Fish migrate to offshore areas and tend to bunch together. This provides the opportunity to get several good fish from one area, but you still have to find it! Learn to interpret your electronics properly and look for those key, isolated areas. Get the bait to make contact with either the bottom or cover and be persistent. See you on the water!