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Crankbaits for Bass

Man holding a Bass Fish

The Creek Chub Bait Company of Indiana was on to something just over a century ago when they introduced the first crankbait. The 3 ½ inch long metal lure had a pronounced bill that allowed it to dive on the retrieve. It was the first crankbait, designed originally just for bass, and it took the fishing world by storm. Today crankbaits remain popular, but they’ve extended far beyond the simple copper-colored metal lure that started all this fanatical lure fishing for both small and largemouth bass.

Crankbaits can come in any color. They range in size from tiny one-inch long, one-quarter ounce lures for crappie and trout to monster foot-long baits that weigh five ounces or more for Tiger muskie. For bass, and bass is what we’re after here, you’ll find that the two to five-inch variety, tipping the scales at one-half to two ounces work the best.

Bass are apex predators and will hit just about anywhere they find food. A crankbait mimics bait fish with a dipping, diving motion as they’re retrieved. It takes skill to present the crankbait just right to resemble a chub, shiner, immature perch, trout fry, or even fingerling bass on the retrieve. The bill on the crankbait determines the depth you can reach on your retrieve. That’s an important factor if bass aren’t hitting on the surface but choosing to feed at depth. The longer the bill, the deeper the crankbait will dive. The speed of your retrieve determines depth as well. A slow retrieve moves the crankbait closer to the surface, while a faster retrieve, digs the bill into the water like the dive planes on a submarine, forcing it deeper as you pull the line in quickly.

Where you toss a crankbait is equally as important as how you present it on the retrieve. Bass like structure and prefer an ambush attack from below but will strike at a crankbait passing at a right angle in front of them as well. With each trip to the water, you’ll learn more about how bass approach a crankbait.

Recommended Crankbaits for Bass Fishing

When it comes to crankbait fishing for bass, the sky may not be the literal limit, but the color of the sky, the color of the water, the vegetation, the temperature of the water and even approaching low-pressure systems all combine in determining which color and design of lure to use. Get this complex formula conquered and your good days on the water will become epic days.

Berkley Flicker Shad Crankbait

If you’re after a great all-around crankbait for mid-level dwelling bass, the Flicker Shad by Berkley is one to have a few color combinations of in your tackle box. The Flicker Shad works best at 11 to 13 feet depth and is an excellent lure for hot afternoons when the surface water temperature gets too warm for even sun-loving largemouth bass.

The wide range of colors can mimic just about any baitfish you’re likely to find in a bass pond, and the action is top-notch when it comes to attracting bass to strike. The ½ ounce size and 3 ½ inch length allow long, controlled casts, which are the key to good retrieves that will generate strikes.

Colors 28 different patterns
Size ½ ounce – 3 ½ inches
Depth 11 to 13 feet

Lunkerhunt Impact Shock Round Bill Shallow Diving Crankbait

The square bill on this crankbait creates a unique wobbling action in the water that drives bass crazy. Designed originally to resemble a wounded bluegill, the action can mimic a frog just as easily to a hungry bass. No matter what the bass thinks this prey might be, it is attracted to shallow water from the surface to just two feet.

This small, bubble-shaped lure, with its wobbling, and surface puddling action is a great one to throw in shallow water between lily pads and other aquatic plants that break the surface. The action brings shallow dwelling bass on quick strikes, often just as the lure hits the water. It is a great lure for cold months with many anglers reporting good luck in January and February with this one.

Colors Silver, yellow, red & sassy
Size ½ ounce – 2 inches
Depth 0 to 2 feet

Strike King Red Eye Shad Lipless Crankbait

Sometimes the surface is the best place for bass to strike. The rattling noise generated by this lipless, surface-riding crankbait is the secret to getting largemouth bass to come up from below on hard, ambush-style strikes. If you enjoy watching the water boil when a largemouth hits the surface and takes a huge gulp of your lure, this is one to try.

Strike King created this lipless beauty in 50 different color patterns, offering more than enough matches to whatever color the sky and the water choose to be that day. It is very effective in greenish-tinted water with heavy algae content since the lure works on vibration and motion as well as color. This is a lure that brings crankbaits into competition with buzzbaits and poppers for surface use.

Colors 50, shad, bream, and carp
Size 3/4 ounce – 3 inches
Depth Surface

Walleye Nation Creations LLC Shaky Shad Crankbait

Colors 24 hot, neon styles
Size 3/4 ounce – 2 ¾ to 7 inches
Depth Two styles – 7 or 13 feet

If you were to take the brightest colored graffiti covering the sides of a railcar, you’d get an idea of the color scheme of these lures. They’re designed to resemble fleeing shad, and perch, but with names like sunset, and rainbow the color is part of the magic of these variable-sized crankbaits.

Don’t let the manufacturer's name fool you, this work for walleye, but they work great for bass as well. This is a crankbait that can be cast from shore or boat or trolled slowly along the bank. The range of 2 ¾ to 7 inches and bill size that can take the lure on controlled retrieves to a constant seven feet in one model, and 13 feet in another makes this an attractive, colorful bass lure for later summer when the water temperature is at its peak.

Rapala DT Series Crankbait

Colors 40 natural colors
Size 3/8 to 3/4 ounce – 2 to 2 3/4s inches
Depth 3 styles, 6, 10, and 16 feet

You might call the Rapala DT the “Swiss Army Knife” of crankbaits. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns designed to match baitfish like shad, shiners, and immature game fish, these lures are available in three bill designs that will take the crankbait to depths of six, 10, and 16 feet. This is a lure for all seasons, with the six-foot depth and one of the shad designs perfect for the height of early to mid-summer action.

These are colored with the growingly popular holographic eye and constructed with an interior of balsa wood for enhanced action on retrieves. The balsa wood design creates a unique wobbling action when submerged. Rapala added weight and taper to create possibly the best casting lure you can find for bass angling with many anglers reporting regular casting distances of at least 150 feet.

Lunkerhunt Glitch Blade Hybrid Crankbait

Colors 4 natural to green neon
Size 1/2 3 inches
Depth 2 to 6 feet

It was just a matter of time until someone combined a crankbait with a blade bait, and Lunkerhunt was that someone. This is an articulated crankbait, with a mildly aggressive bill in a standard three-inch length. The lure bends in the middle, creating the back-and-forth motion usually reserved for blade baits. The combination has proved deadly to smallmouth and largemouth alike, especially in colder northern lakes.

The wobbling action in shallow water from the surface to six feet depth is the secret. The crankbait only comes in four color combinations, but the graphics are lifelike, with one so closely resembling a largemouth fingerling that you’ll look twice when you reach for it in your tackle box. This is an angling innovation at its best and might just become your favorite early-season bass lure.