How To Fish Shallow Crankbaits For More Bites


When walleye, bass and other species are in shallow water, a crankbait is one of the best ways to catch ‘em! Here are some can’t-miss tips and shallow crankbait recommendations for the season ahead.


Don’t Be Afraid Of Speed

A fast retrieve with a crankbait is a great way to cover water and find fish. A crankbait swimming quickly through a fish’s strike zone can also trigger reaction strikes. These are two good reasons to use a fast retrieve when shallow cranking.


Remember, though, to let fish tell you what they want. If fast isn’t working, experiment with moderate and slow tempos.


Stop And Go

Fish are attracted to a crankbait’s wobble, flash and vibrations, but what often prompts bites is a sudden change in the lure’s action. Briefly stopping the retrieve is one easy way to elicit an attack.


A brief speed burst gives a crank an evasive action, making it appear like fleeing prey. This can be imparted with a short rod twitch or a faster half-turn of the reel handle.


Make Contact

Getting a crankbait to hit and deflect off rock, wood and other obstacles also produces an erratic, unpredictable appearance and can trigger strikes. Most baits can withstand a bit of contact, but the ultra-durable Rapala BX Brat, Storm Original Wiggle Wart or 13 Fishing Gordito are your best bets for aggressive, grinding presentations.



Spellbind ‘Em With The Scatter Lip

The Scatter Rap Shad is a shallow-water cranking essential. This lure’s Scatter Lip design produces an evasive swimming action akin to a vulnerable baitfish. All you need to do is reel steadily — and set the hook, of course.



Work Edges And Hit Key Targets

Swimming a crankbait around prime fish-attracting spots will get you more bites. This means casting and retrieving a crankbait parallel to docks, weedlines, bottom transitions and other distinct edges.


Stumps, boulders, rock piles and other isolated features found on flats, points and along shorelines also deserve attention. Avoid spooking shallow fish, first casting beyond the target, then swim the lure towards the spot.


Depth Control Matters

Having a good selection of shallow crankbaits with different running depths keeps you prepared to fish anywhere from the shore out to 10 feet. Here are some baits worth owning.


The OG Tiny 4, DT04, BX Brat 03 and Jabber Jaw have 3 to 4 foot running depths. The OG Slim 06, Scatter Rap Shad, BX Big Brat and BX Mid Brat dive 5 to 6 feet. Lastly, 7 to 10 feet is easily fished with the DT08, DT10 and Original Wiggle Wart.



Upping line strength, say from 12- to 14-pound test, will make a crankbait run shallower. Vice versa with lighter line.


Rod position also influences a lure’s running depth. A high rod tip position (e.g., 10 or 11 o’clock) reduces a crankbait’s dive, while keeping the tip low to the water encourages a deeper running depth. Adjust rod tip position as needed to maximize the crank’s time in the strike zone throughout the retrieve.


Crank Buoyancy Considerations

Floating crankbaits are handy in shallow water. Adding a pause after making contact with an obstacle lets the lure rise and back away from potential snags. A rising lure can also stimulate a feeding response from fish.


Sometimes, though, a crankbait stalled and suspended in the strike zone is the secret for making fish bite. This is why we recommend adding some neutrally buoyant Glass Shad Raps to your collection. You can also turn your favourite floating crankbait into a suspending or sinking lure by sticking Storm’s SuspenDots or SuspenStrips to its underside.



Rattling Versus Silent

Owning a mix of rattling and non-rattling cranks is wise. Generally, rattling crankbaits are best suited for stained water, low light, drawing fish out of cover and appealing to active fish. Silent crankbaits do well in clear water, on heavily fished waterbodies and for neutral or inactive fish.


Swimming Characteristics

When you’re really dialling-in a crankbait bite, experimenting with lures showcasing different swimming actions can be the difference between a good day and an epic, fishing experience.


For instance, the OG Tiny 04 is a flat-sided, balsa bait with a tight wobble and finesse-like action whereas a BX Brat has an aggressive wiggling, kicking and hunting action.


MUST: Invest In A Crankin’ Set-Up

13 Fishing offers several rods suitable for shallow cranking. Upper tier models include the 7’4” Envy EB3C74MHM, and 7’1” and 7’4” Omen OB3C71C or OB3C74C cranking models. Stepping down in price without compromising cranking performance are the 7’1” medium power, fast action Radioactive Orange and Green Casting 2-piece rods. All of these rods pair well with a Concept Z SLD (6.8:1), Concept A Gen II (6.8:1) or Origin F1 (6.6:1) baitcast reel.




Twelve-pound Sufix Advance Monofilament is a reliable choice for shallow cranking bass and walleye. If casting a shallow crankbait as a downsizing strategy for pike, use 30- or 40-pound Sufix 832 Advance Superline with a VMC Titanium or Fluorocarbon leader to prevent bite-offs.



Tip: Carry Fishermen’s Pliers or Mag Spring Pliers for safe and easy hook removal.



Shallow crankbaits consistently catch walleye, bass and other fish abiding anywhere from the shore to depths of 10 feet. The tips, lures and equipment listed above will help you enjoy great fishing this season and for many years to come.