Response by Andrew Kidd - Dated 09/28/2002
Diving crankbaits are typically plastic or wooden lures made to resemble a
swimming fish, having a bill on the front made of plastic or metal that
causes the bait to dive and wobble from side to side. Diving crankbaits
come in many sizes and shapes, but can be divided into three basic
categories: Shallow, medium and deep diving. Each bait's construction
causes it to have an action unique to it's shape.
As with many baits, crankbaits are used almost any time water is not frozen.
Most find the bait to be effective when the water reaches 50 degrees, all
the way through to the highest water temperatures the fish can tolerate.
Presentations are often adjusted by the temperature of the water. Day to
day, examples of diving crankbait usage can be found when the fish are
actively hunting food away from shoreline cover, are awaiting ambush
opportunities within cover, are staging on points, or suspending next to
bluff walls. With practice, diving crankbaits can be used effectively in
cover, as the bill creates a makeshift "guard" against hang-ups.
As with all baits, colors vary greatly in diving crankbaits. Many people
prefer natural color selections in clear water, more aggressive colors
schemes like chartreuse/blue or Fire Tiger (chartreuse base with darker
striping) when fishing stained or muddy water. Seasonal differences can be
found in springtime, when many favor crawdad appearance in their crankbaits,
while others find shad presentations to work year round. The best bait is
often determined by whether you are trying to match the current forage, or
trying to stand-out, like in muddy water.
Weights of crankbaits are most useful in affecting casting distance. Since
many crankbaits float, they occasionally rely on weight to affect the
presentation. The depth these baits dive to is most often determined by the
shape and length of the bill on the front of the bait, and not their weight.
Lighter baits are generally more buoyant and will often be used in
situations where a quick rising bait, is desired. Many anglers add
additional weight to their baits to make them neutral buoyant, where they
neither rise or fall in depth when the bait is stopped. This is usually
referred to as suspending.
Erratic retrieves are often successful when fishing a crankbait. After
reeling a bait down to it's target depth, collision with cover and structure
is desirable. This often entices a strike from nearby bass. The floating
action of buoyant crankbaits is often used when a bait is worked in cover,
allowing the bait to be reeled against a branch, for instance, the reeling
stopped, the bait allowed to float up, across the cover, and the retrieve is
continued. Many people help crankbaits reach deeper or shallower depths by
controlling the angle they hold the rod tip. To have a bait run shallower
then normal, a rod tip held high will work. To get the bait a little
deeper, hold the rod tip low to the water, or submerged. When working floating
baits in heavy cover, it is important to work the bait slowly and deliberately,
while paying close attention to the contact with the cover. When an obstacle is
met, it is often best to slow or stop the retrieve momentarily allowing the bait to
rise far enough to clear the obstacle before continuing your retrieve.
Hooksets with deep diving crankbaits are most often a sweeping action. This
is often accomplished at the waist, with a quick twist of the upper body.
The hookset generally occurs when the bait has stopped it's tell-tale
wobble, pulls back, or generally feels "not right". Much like
spinnerbaits, many fish hook themselves when attacking crankbaits, making
them as beneficial for beginners as they are for experienced anglers.
Equipment for deep diving crankbait is a matter of preference, as with most
other style fishing. Because of the tremendous pull that some deep diving
crankbaits exert on the equipment, baitcasting reels are commonly used. A
good quality 6 to 7 foot rod with a longer handle can be helpful in managing
hand fatigue brought on from fishing one of these baits for long periods.
They are also good in varying the presentation, as described above. Fishing
line weight varies as widely as the situations you can effectively use the
deep diving crankbait. In open water, relatively free of cover, snags and
abrasives (sharp rock, etc), 10 lb test line can easily be used. Lighter
line will generally make a bait dive deeper then thicker line. Worked on
heavier rock structure, a 12-14lb test line might serve better. When
working a diving crankbait in heavy cover, heavier line weight becomes a
possibility from the perspective of less depth being desired, and the
increased chance for fish to tangle into the heavy brush.
To be effective in fishing deep diving crankbaits, you must stay away from a
"cast and wind" mentality. To effectively fish this bait, as much thought
should be placed into its action as is put into any other bait. Sometimes,
a stop and go retrieve works well, other times, a constant retrieve is in
order, while other times a "burn" action should be employed, where you fish
the bait as fast as possible. It is important to try several actions to
determine what the fish are looking for on that particular day. Once a fish
or two are caught, concentrate on that action and location type to help
catch more fish.