Crankbaits catch bigger fish on the average than jigs, rigs, spoons, worms, spinners, and even live bait! I can’t explain why it happens, but there is hardly a serious angler who wouldn’t agree with me.
Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, my selection of crankbaits is extensive to say the least. Every new model, shape, size, and color receives my scrutiny. Ironically, there’s a relatively small selection of crankbaits that have earned my undying loyalty. These are the lures that catch fish consistently, wherever and wherever I take them.
Although they are often sold that way, crankbaits aren’t species specific. In other words, a crankbait designed for walleye fishing is also likely to produce bass, pike, and other fish. However, there are different types of lures that do seem to produce especially well on walleye. Three categories including shallow, medium, and deep divers are available. A good angler should have at least a few lures from each of these categories to choose from.
Shallow-diving cranks are typically minnow-shaped lures often called stickbaits. However, a few fat or round body lures also fall into this category. In general these lures feature a small diving lip that propels them from two feet to about eight feet below the surface. I’ve listed weights and exact names to help anglers ferret out my suggestions.
The Storm ThunderStick 3/8 ounce and Jr. ThunderStick 1/4 ounce, Rebel F-20, Rapala No. 13 Husky, Bomber 14A and 15A, Bagley 3/8-ounce Bang-O-Lure, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue 1/3 ounce, Cotton Cordell Ripplin’ Redfin, Mann’s Loudmouth Jerkbait, Rapala Shallow Shad Rap SSR7, Bill Norman Little N, and Luhr Jensen Speed Trap 1/4 ounce are excellent bets. These lures can be cast to shallow weeds, trolled at night, or fished in combination with lead-core line for deep-water walleye.
The next category of walleye preferred crankbaits are medium divers that reach a depth of eight to 15 feet when trolled. This category contains the largest number of lures to choose from. Some of my favorites include the Luhr Jensen Fingerling Hi-Catch 5/16 ounce, Storm 1/4 ounce Hot ‘N Tot and Deep Jr. ThunderStick, Rapala No. 7 Shad Rap, Fred Arbogast Flash Dancer, Bomber 6A, Rebel Deep Wee-R and Fastrac FT-20 plus Cotton Cordell’s C.C. Rattlin’ Shad & Wally Diver 1/4 ounce. These lures are ideal for casting to points or sunken islands or trolling behind planer boards.
Each year more deep-diving crankbaits appear on the market and their depth ranges increase. The Storm Deep ThunderStick, Wiggle Wart 3/8 ounce and Rattle Tot, Rapala No. 8 Shad Rap, Mann’s Depth Plus +15 and +20, Fred Arbogast 5/8 ounce Mud Bug, Luhr Jensen Hot Lips Express 1/2 ounce, Power Dive Minnow 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce, Reef Runner Lures Reef Runner, Bomber 8A and 25A, Rebel Spoonbill D-30 and Cotton Cordell Wally Diver CD6 are outstanding walleye lures. Many of these baits pull very hard in the water, making them most useful for trolling.
Bass crankbaits fit into different categories than most of those lures used to catch walleye. A bass fisherman needs a good selection of topwater baits, jerkbaits, lip-less cranks, and diving crankbaits.
Topwater baits are those that do not dive when retrieved. Classic examples include the Fred Arbogast Jitterbug, Heddon Zara Spook and Torpedo, Rebel Pop-R, Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug, Cotton Cordell Boy Howdy, Smithwick Devil Horse, Ozark Mountain Woodchopper, Luhr Jensen P.J. Pop and Bass Oreno plus Bill Norman’s ZZ Top. Most of these lures gurgle, spit, or sputter to attract bass.
Jerkbaits are designed to be on or just below the surface. Among the best are the Bomber 15A, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue 1/3 ounce, Rapala No. 13, Bill Norman Professional Edge, Mann’s Loudmouth Jerkbait, Bagley Bang-O-Lure 3/8 ounce, Storm ThunderStick, and Rebel J-20 are excellent choices.
Lipless cranks are ideal for casting in weed flats or other areas where snags are common and lots of water must be covered quickly. Some of the best bets include the Rattlin’ Rapala RNR7, Bill Lewis Original Rat-L-Trap, Reef Runner Lures Maverick, Strike King Diamond Shad, and Cotton Cordell Super Spot 1/2 ounce.
There are far too many diving crankbaits that catch bass to mention. Typically these lures feature a short fat body that closely represents a bass’s favorite food the bluegill or sunfish. Good lures to try include the Rapala Fat Raps, Bill Norman Deep Little N, Mann’s Loudmouth II and Accu-Trac 1/4 ounce, Bill Lewis Divin’ Rat-L-Trap, Bagley Deep Kill’r B, Poe’s RC1 and RC3, Reef Runner Lures Scooter, Storm Rattlin’ Flat Wart and Rattlin’ Thinfins, Bomber 5A, 6A and 7A, Rebel Deep Wee-R, and the Cotton Cordell Big-O.
The lures mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of others await your approval or thumbs down rating. Give crankbaiting a try this season and see how your favorite list compares to mine.