Crank It Up For Bass Opener
If you’re looking for a way to catch more smallmouth and largemouth bass at the start of the season, fishing crankbaits is the answer. Here’s what you need to know.
Three Reasons To Crank Opener
1. Given anglers are starting from scratch opening day, covering water with a crankbait helps quickly understand where post-spawn bass are located, how they’re behaving and the waterbody’s characteristics (e.g., water temperature, vegetation growth, etc.). Along the way, they’ll be plenty of smallmouth and largemouth catches on BX Brats, OG Slims, Jabber Jaws and other crankbaits. Each bass giving important clues for establishing a fish-catching pattern.
2. Using a crankbait to fish shorelines, points, flats, bars, rocky reefs, drop-offs and other early-season bass locations is also a numbers game. Covering water puts your lure in front of as many bass as possible, which means more bites over the course of the day.
3. Pre-summer conditions are perfect for cranking shallow and mid-depth bass habitat. Aquatic vegetation is still weeks away from its peak growth. As a result, there’s plenty of “open-water” suitable for casting crankbaits without worry of snagging treble hooks in grass.
Driving Crankbaits You Can Count On
To maximize the numbers and size of bass you catch, you’ll want a mix of crankbaits with different running depths, actions and other characteristics for fishing a variety of scenarios. Here are a few reliable early-season cranks.
Tie on an OG Tiny and get ready to set the hook when fishing shallow. With a 4 foot running depth, this flat-sided balsa ankbait’s tight, wobbling action makes it excellent for clear water scenarios and sluggish or pressured bass.
The flat-sided OG Slim is another proven balsa bass-catcher. Its wobbling action is more pronounced than the OG Tiny, but it maintains a tight, side-to-side swim. It runs at 6 feet.
Size 6 to 8 Shad Raps have been the undoing of post-spawn bass for decades. Use these balsa baits to cover five to 11 foot depths. And, be sure to get a few of the new custom-paint inspired colours.
Every crankbait collection needs BX Brats, BX Mid Brats and BX Big Brats. These squarebill crankbaits are made for bumping into and deflecting off shallow obstacles to trigger reaction strikes. BX Brats are must-haves for cranking shallow rock and wood.
Loud cranks can outproduce silent models in murky water, low light and when bass are aggressive — and the Jabber Jaw certainly raises the volume. Instead of rattles, the Jabber Jaw’s sound comes from its chattering bill that strikes against its metal jowls during the retrieve. The result is something bass have never heard before, which makes them lash out. The original dives to 4 feet; the new Jabber Jaw Deep swims between 7 and 9 feet.
Any discussion on bass cranking is incomplete without mention of the popular DT (Dives-To) Series, a collection of rattling, balsa baits that dive fast to a preset depth and stay in the strike zone longer than any other crankbait on the market. Bass opener recommendations include the DT04, DT06, and the new DT08, which run at 4, 6 and 8 feet respectively.
The Original Wiggle Wart’s classic rattle sound and side-to-side crayfish action is another reliable choice. It dives from 7 to 18 feet. For added reach, tie on the new Original Deep Wiggle Wart’s and easily crank depths from 10 to 20 feet.
Don’t Overlook Lipless Crankbaits
Shifting gears from diving crankbaits, lipless models also play into early-season bass tactics. Take the 2-1/2” Rap-V Blade and the new smaller, 2” version. With a distinct, loud BB rattle system, Rap-V Blades are great for quickly fishing flats, long shorelines and other expansive areas to find scattered bass and trigger strikes. Bass also can’t resist the vertical swim and falling action of a Rap-V Blade yo-yoed over weed tops or jigged along bottom. Same deal with the Rattlin’ Rapala and Rippin’ Rap.
Critical Components Of A Crankbaiting Set-Up
Any bass angler serious about crankbaits will tell you, using a technique-specific rod catches more fish. Crankbait rods have moderate-fast or moderate actions, giving them a parabolic bend when loaded. This, combined with a soft tip, encourages an attacking bass to succeed in getting a mouthful. A cranking rod then helps execute a smooth, quality hook-set and cushions the intensity of the fight so the fish doesn’t come unbuttoned. Reliable picks include the 7’1” and 7’4” Omen Black Cranking rods, and the 7’4” Fate V3 Chat-R-Crank (FV3C74MHM).
When it comes to choosing a baitcaster for fishing shallow and moderate-diving crankbaits, there are a couple schools of thought. One is using a slow to medium speed reel (e.g., a 5.5:1 to 6.6:1 gear ratio) in order to maximize the crankbait’s swimming action. The second is using a faster reel, starting at 7.3:1, to cover water and trigger reaction strikes. Both options work, it’s up to you to decide what reel speed best fits your fishing style. If you’re looking to invest in a new cranking reel, the Concept A3, Concept A, Origin Series and Inception SZ baitcasters are worth considering.
Sufix Advance Monofilament is our top recommendation for line. It offers the stretch and shock absorption needed for consistently hooking and landing bass on crankbaits. Sufix Advance Monofilament is also subtle, smooth casting and abrasion resistant. Twelve-pound is a great all-round choice, but go with 14-pound when cranking around wood and other gnarly cover.
If you’ve been wondering how to increase the number and size of bass you on catch opening day, crankbaits are the solution. Gear up with some OG Tiny, BX Brats, Shad Raps, Jabber Jaws and the crankbaits listed above, along with a 13 Fishing cranking rod combo, and you’ll slam loads of early-season smallmouth and largemouth!