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Crankbaits: Tips & Techniques at Cabela's

Crankbaits: Tips & Techniques

Author: Cabela's Staff

Although simply casting a crankbait out and reeling it straight in will catch fish, more often than not you will have to modify your presentation to match what the fish want and maximize your productivity. Here are a few tips from the staff at Cabela's that will definitely give you an edge when the fish are finicky.

Strike King Red Eye Shad
Stop-and-go
Any time you get follow-ups while working crankbaits, simply stopping the reel action for a second then starting it again can trigger those fish into striking. Try to keep as much slack out of the line as possible and watch the line carefully to detect strikes when the lure is at rest.
Ripping cranks
Although mostly used for jerkbaits, ripping can be done with any crank. Just reel the lure in enough to bring it to the depth you want and begin pulling it in with an aggressive sweeping motion. Reel in the slack in between retrieves, constantly watching the line for any indication that a fish has taken the bait.
Structure bouncing
When fish are holding tight to the bottom and structure, using a crankbait that runs slightly deeper than the depth you're fishing will enable you to bounce it against rocky bottoms and ridges. Not only will this add to the sound a crankbait is making, but it will also stir up silt from the bottom, which imitates the look of a crawfish or other bottom-hugging meal trying to escape.

Rapala Original Floating Lure
Carolina-style
Although it may sound strange, attaching a small floating crank like a Rapala Floating Minnow to the business end of a Carolina rig can trigger strikes from lethargic fish when they want baitfish instead of a soft-plastic offering. Carolina rigging a crankbait is also ideal as a search technique over open points, drops and ledges during the colder months of the year.
Floating vs. suspending crankbaits
The choice between floater/diver cranks and suspending models has much more to do with the presentation you will be using than anything else. Neutrally buoyant cranks let you stop the lure at any point during the retrieve and sit it right in front of a fish's nose to trigger strikes when they want a slower presentation. Floating cranks rise rapidly, which pushes them back towards any following fish, creating more reaction strikes. This fast, rising action may also back a lure out of structure and dislodge it when it catches on a snag.
Matching the rod with the presentation
When using cranks, many people have the tendency to pull the lure away from the fish on the hookset. This is especially true with low-stretch lines and braids. To prevent pulling the crankbait away from a fish, choose a rod with a moderate action or one that's specially designed for cranking. Fiberglass rods like Cabela's E-Glass series add just the right amount of flex and forgiveness to set the hook firmly without ripping the lure free.

Cabela's Premium Duolock Snaps
Proper crankbait tuning
If a crankbait is out of tune, it will not deliver the proper action nor be able to reach its maximum running depth. To check your crankbait and make sure that it is running true, release 10 to 15 feet of line and draw the bait next to your boat or along a straight path on the bank. If the lure tries to run left or right, it needs to be adjusted. To adjust a crankbait, face the front of the lure towards you and bend the lure eye slightly opposite the way the lure is tracking. Continue to check and adjust the lure until it runs perfectly straight. For any crank to run with the action it was designed for, it must be tied using a Duncan loop knot or use an attachment like the Duolock Snap or Speed clip or split ring. The use of clips also enables fast bait changes to quickly match the preference of the fish.

To view Cabela's entire line of hard baits, click here.

To view Cabela's selection of swivels, snaps, & clevises, click here.