A SPECIALIZED CRANKBAIT FOR A MORE SUBTLE APPROACH
“Flat-sided Crankbaits” A specialized crankbait for a more subtle approach – TJ Maglio
T o novice anglers, any old hard wooden or plastic plug with a lip is referred to as a crankbait. They all wob-ble, dive on the retrieve and, periodically, come back with a fish attached. To the crankbait die-hards of the Carolinas and the Tennessee River region, though, the word "crankbait" itself is just a heading used to refer to many different styles of plugs, each with a very particular time and place to shine. From those regions comes an old-school crankbait style that's now one of the fastest growing: the flat-sided crankbait. It's a style that Wamart FLW Tour pros Wesley Strader and Alex Davis both use to achieve incredible results, albeit with different twists. Flat-sides typically shine when the bite is tough and in the spring or fall, and while summer is still in full swing in the South, the shorter days and cooldown period of autumn are just a few weeks away for many bass anglers. Now's the time to prepare.
Alex Davis Targets Submergent Grass Flats
When: "The flat-sided crank is quickly becoming one of my go-to baits in almost any situation where anglers would normally throw a lipless crankbait. For me, it's usually any time the water temperature is between 45 and 55 degrees, when the bass are sluggish and want something with a less aggressive action." Where: Davis breaks out the flat-side around submer-gent grass flats. In the fall and spring, big bass relate to the deeper grass lines found on these flats in many bodies of water, and they wait for shad to pass by. How: "I like to throw a plastic bait such as the Jackall Jaco 58," says Davis. "It has the excellent tight wiggle of a wooden bait, but casts farther. I throw it on a G. Loomis GLX 843 CBR [7-foot, medium-power, moderate-action] cranking rod paired to a Shimano Curado reel with 5.1:1 gear ratio and spooled with 12- to 14-pound-test Sufix Elite monofilament."
Wes Strader Targets Rocky Points, Riprap
When: "I'll throw a flat-sided bait just about any time the bass are feeding on shad and the water temperature is below 60," says Strader. "If you've ever seen shad swim-ming in the fall, they just slide through the water with almost no action. Flat-sided plugs imitate this better than almost any other plug. It's a natural-looking deal, and bass can't resist them." Where: Strader relies on the flat-sided crankbait a lot in the fall to imitate shad, which he finds on rocky areas with a depth change — rocky points and steep riprap banks, for instance. He says bass like such areas because they can hang on the bottom when inactive, but still easily come up shallow to feed if a school of shad swims by. How: "If it's not made of balsa, it's not on the end of my line," Strader says. "I've been carving and tinkering with crankbaits for a long time, and there is something different about how a balsa bait moves compared to a plastic plug. Old School Balsa Baits is a company I'm working with to make hand-carved plugs available to everyone. My signature-series flat-sided plug is called the W3. That thing is as good as it gets. It casts a mile and catches anything that swims. I throw it on a 6104 Powell Max 3D [6-foot, 10-inch, medium-power, moderate-fast] cranking rod paired to a Team Lew's Lite reel with 10-pound-test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon."