Chang­ing from other baits to a crankbait is a tough de­ci­sion to make un­less you are a crank fa­natic and just fish them all the time. I al­ways have a rod on deck with a crank tied on and will throw it from time to time when worm­ing is tough or lit­tle is ha

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Lionel Crow

“Change to Cranks” Chang­ing from other baits to a crankbait is a tough de­ci­sion to make un­less you are a crank fa­natic and just fish them all the time – Lionel Crow

But this is just a guess and a chance, not a cal­cu­lated de­ci­sion, but if I’m lucky and trig­ger a re­ac­tion strike I will con­tinue with the crank for some time. A cal­cu­lated guess will be if I am fish­ing plas­tics and find that I am get­ting hit as I am re­triev­ing faster to re­cast and fish take on the faster ac­tion, or if I see there is a lot of bait fish in the wa­ter and bass are ac­tively feed­ing on them, and if the wind is pump­ing and the sur­face is choppy and fish­ing any­thing else is dif­fi­cult. These are for me cer­tain times for chang­ing to a crank.

Se­lect­ing a crank to fish should also be as cal­cu­lated as pos­si­ble to at­tain the best results. Things to take into con­sid­er­a­tion are type and size and colour of bait­fish for the time of year or dam you are fish­ing, the depth that the fish are feed­ing at, the depth of the wa­ter that you are fish­ing in and the colour of the wa­ter you are fish­ing in (bait­fish will change their colour ac­cord­ing to the colour of the wa­ter or struc­ture they are found around). My crankbait box con­sists of one or two sur­face lures such as the Wake Shad, a num­ber of Se­ries 5 and 6 Strike King cranks and plenty of Red Eye Shads of dif­fer­ent sizes and colours. Li­p­less cranks are my ‘go-to’ cranks al­most ev­ery time be­fore ty­ing on some­thing else. I find they match the bait­fish bet­ter than most and the rat­tle at­tracts the feed­ing bass as well. As far as choos­ing the right colour to fish with, I will try and match the bait­fish with nat­u­ral colours first - I be­lieve that the Red Eye Shad in Ma­jjorra is the most nat­u­ral look­ing of all the colours but will have its days when it needs to be re­placed with a darker or brighter colour, but those are very few. I have found that if you are hav­ing trou­ble try­ing to match the hatch colour wise, a chrome Sil­ver or Gold will nor­mally match any­thing in our wa­ters and per­form ex­cep­tion­ally well in stained wa­ter. I was never a great be­liever in the no­tion that a rod and reel played a great role in my suc­cesses with cranks as I be­lieved that as long as the crank was in

the wa­ter and be­ing re­trieved at the right speed and depth, it would have the same results. But I was hor­ri­bly wrong as I dis­cov­ered dur­ing a tour­na­ment at Goede­trouwe Dam a cou­ple of years back. It was a tough comp with bites few and far be­tween - I got a 4.2kg early in the morn­ing at the out­let then strug­gled the rest of the day un­til I dis­cov­ered the crankbait bite was on. I was fish­ing the banks op­po­site the ho­tel with a Se­ries 6 Char­treuse/White crank catch­ing mainly cat­fish (and some mon­sters at that) but soon started pick­ing up big bass, most in the re­gion of 4kg- plus but never put one on the boat be­cause ev­ery time they jumped they threw the baits. I was fish­ing a 7.4 medium heavy rod de­signed for crank­ing but very heavy to throw, and even af­ter a few days could cer­tainly feel I had been crank­ing. My reel was a 6.3:1 ra­tio spooled with 20lb mono and I was will­ing to bend the hooks straight in or­der to re­trieve a snagged crank - I thought I was well equipped, but did I learn a lesson!

Many fac­tors af­fect the swim­ming of a crank and to be more ef­fec­tive it’s ad­vis­able to take some time and think about the ac­tion you need to achieve. The lip length and de­sign will have the main ef­fect on the way the crank moves but it is also be af­fected by line di­am­e­ter, re­trieval rate, rod po­si­tion, rod ac­tion, rod length and the wa­ters you are fish­ing, namely grassy, rocky struc­ture or tim­ber, choppy or calm wa­ters and so on.

Start­ing with reels - and we can write a whole book on this – many will tell you the ideal crank­ing reel is a 5:1 or slower ra­tio reel. The rea­son they give for this is that the longer the crank is in the wa­ter, the bet­ter the chance of it reach­ing its de­sired depth and stay­ing there, and that a slower re­trieve has bet­ter fight­ing power, but the down side to a slow re­trieve is its in­abil­ity to take in the slack quickly enough if needed: for ex­am­ple if the fish jumps or swims di­rectly to­wards you. Slower re­trieve ra­tios are more suited for deep, open wa­ters, sub­tle pre­sen­ta­tions in the shal­lows or pow­er­ing through grass. A high ra­tio reel will be more ef­fec­tive for burn­ing baits over grass beds or shal­low wa­ters, but can also be used in deep open wa­ter to bring a crank to a de­sired depth quickly (but then it takes dis­ci­pline to slow it down once it is in the zone). A high speed reel also gives you more con­trol when play­ing a fish.

Spool­ing the reel can also be cru­cial to the ef­fec­tive­ness of the crank - by far the best choice is a ny­lon or copoly­mer line, but I’ve seen guys fish­ing cranks with braid and fluoro­car­bon, usu­ally in heavy struc­ture where feel­ing your way through the rough stuff is es­sen­tial, and braid is par­tic­u­larly good for top wa­ter baits as it floats bet­ter than most other lines and also keeps the ac­tion of the crank true in­stead of pulling it un­der.

There are many dif­fer­ent rods de­signed specif­i­cally for crank­ing. The longer rods seem to be more pop­u­lar than the shorter ones mainly be­cause you can get bet­ter dis­tance on a longer rod, and the fur­ther out the crank goes the bet­ter chance it has of reach­ing its ef­fec­tive depth when re­trieved. But cranks come in many dif­fer­ent sizes and weights and cer­tain baits will be more ef­fec­tive on cer­tain

rods - you ob­vi­ously won’t find one spe­cific crankbait rod that can han­dle all types of cranks. The rod also makes a dif­fer­ence in hook set and there are a lot of dif­fer­ent views on this - the pros on TV seem to sweep the rod or reel into the loaded rod more than a heavy yank that will more than of­ten pull the hooks. And the sweep is nor­mally the in­stant you feel the rod load up or the crank stops its usual wig­gle. Un­like plas­tics that are soft and feel nat­u­ral to the bass the crank is hard and doesn’t feel right in its mouth and will be spat the mo­ment it’s tasted (if you have seen Glen Lau s “Big Mouth For­ever” there are some scenes of bass spit­ting cranks full of tre­bles with ease) so the sweep must be in­stant and strik­ing is for free. Some pro an­glers be­lieve that the hook set is af­ter the strike and once you have felt the weight of the fish on the rod, in other words strik­ing and set­ting the hooks are two dif­fer­ent ac­tions. The rod is used for play­ing a fish back to the boat once hooked and a longer rod will give you the abil­ity to play it bet­ter by keep­ing it out of struc­ture, away from sharp pro­pel­ler blades and so on, but re­mem­ber that by keep­ing the rod high you are ma­nip­u­lat­ing the bass into com­ing to the sur­face and urg­ing it to jump. You have less con­trol on an air­borne bass and this is when they tend to spit the cranks the most. An­other time is when you force the rod into the wa­ter to pre­vent the jump, but the mo­ment the rod tip is in the wa­ter you will lose tip ac­tion and are in dan­ger of over pow­er­ing the fish and rip­ping the hooks.

My favourite area for throw­ing cranks is rip rap where I en­joy bump­ing the crank off rocks and trees; my sec­ond favourite is open flats where I take the boat out to the de­sired depth - es­pe­cially if there is struc­ture such as rocks on the bot­tom – and then work par­al­lel to the bank at that spe­cific depth. For ex­am­ple when throw­ing the se­ries 5 Strike King cranks I po­si­tion the boat at 3.5m, then I know the crank will be run­ning just above the floor but will bump into any­thing that is sit­ting just off the bot­tom. Thirdly li­p­less cranks can be fished in many ar­eas at any depth but I pre­fer to fish them in and around grass, and then also square-lipped cranks in struc­ture such as tim­ber and grass, ba­si­cally ar­eas where you would nor­mally con­sider ty­ing on a spin­ner­bait.

Cranks are very ef­fec­tive as they cover lots of wa­ter very fast and are com­pe­ti­tion win­ners; if you take the time to master them you will have an­other tool in your box that will help with your quest to beat the odds, whether it be in com­pe­ti­tions or just so­cially. My sug­ges­tion is to leave your plas­tics and jigs at home and only take your box of cranks, force your­self to fish them - and don’t be scared to put them into struc­ture and grass but get your­self a good lure re­triever. Ideally you would want to hire a pro­fes­sional diver on your first cou­ple of out­ings, but re­triev­ing cranks is part of the lessons you need to learn if you are go­ing to master them prop­erly.

Qual­ity speed clips (not swivels) al­low for quick bait changes and en­hanced bait move­ment

Keep colour se­lec­tion sim­ple- to match bait­fish, wa­ter clar­ity and weather con­di­tions

Red Eye Shad

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