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Crankbait Fishing by Pete Mathews

Pete Mathews will be bringing to Felix Fishing a four part series on crankbaits.  The series will cover set up, color, depth, and construction.  You can find more articles from Pete on his website:  Pete Mathews 

A good Fluorocarbon (usually 10lb) is my preferred crankbait line for almost every application and type of cover.  Lately I’ve been favoring Seaguar but I’ve used Cabela’s and BPS in the past and they’ve also worked well for this application.  When it comes to the line you use to throw a crankbait, choose wisely. Because there is less resistance, thinner lines like fluorocarbon will allow the bait to dive deeper, and the bait will have more action or wobble. Because there is more resistance, a thicker line like monofilament will limit the lure’s depth and will muffle the action of the bait.

For the most part, I will use 10-14lb fluorocarbon when I’m cranking because it has a low diameter and allows the lure to achieve maximum depth. When I’m throwing a shallow crankbait and I know I’ll be cranking around a lot of cover, I will use a thicker, abrasion resistant monofilament line because the durability of the line and the strength is much, much more important than the depth. 15-20lb monofilament will still allow a shallow crankbait to do its job, but if you tried to throw a deep crankbait on the same line, it would run 10-15 feet as opposed to 15-20 feet.

The gear ratio of your reel can also be a very important choice. There are 3 standard or common gear ratios (see below) in a reel. The first number stands for the number of revolutions of the spool for every full turn of the reel handle.

– 5.4/1 = the spool will turn 5.4 times every time you crank the handle 1 full revolution

– 6.3/1 = the spool will turn 6.3 times every time you crank the handle 1 full revolution

– 7.1/1 = the spool will turn 7.1 times every time you crank the handle 1 full revolution

When working a crankbait, slower is usually better. Working the bait slower allows the initial dive or part of the arc to be more vertical, which allows the bait to spend more time in the strike zone. With a fast moving reel like a 7.1/1, it is very, very hard to turn the handle because the reel is trying to move very fast, but the bill of the crankbait is trying to resist so the bait can dive.

You can use a high gear for shallow crankbaits because you’re generally fishing around heavy cover and you want to move the fish away from that brush pile or dock quickly when you hook up. But…when you’re fishing a medium or deep diver, you have to use 6.3/1 or lower. It’s impossible to throw a DD22 or a big DT20 on a high speed reel all day. Your forearm will explode!

In regards to the rod you use, the one thing you need is a soft tip. The softer, more limber tip and rod will allow the fish to really inhale the bait and you will have a higher hook-up percentage. Some guys use graphite rods, some guys use glass rods, but as long as it’s the right density and has the right flexibility it should work. The soft tip and soft action will also help you feel the cover you are fishing and will help you bring it through the cover without hanging up. If a rod doesn’t flex or give, the hooks will set into the wood before you have a chance to let the bait work its way through. Or…if you’re fishing grass the bait will dig deeper into the grass instead of ripping free and floating up.

Right now, I’m using the G-Loomis Crankbait rod in a 7’6” M model. It’s pretty long and allows me to cast very far. It works well for medium and deep baits, but I really need something shorter and stouter for shallow crankbaits and I have another rod that I use for that purpose.  Whether it’s glass or graphite, as long as your crankbait rod is big enough to wing that bait a mile and soft enough to let the fish really inhale the bait, you should put more in the boat.

About Travis Perret