clemmy

Question For The Offroad Cranking Gurus...

10 posts in this topic

I personally believe you need to hit stuff with a crankbait. Now this leads to both needing a lure retriever, as well as a crankbait designed for cover. Now personally, I think a heavier but still floating crank is better. I get longer casts, as well as more of a "freeze and shiver" on contact with an obstacle. But the more I read, the more I hear that balsa is better than plastic as it floats faster to avoid snags, thus how the B2 is good for shallow brush. I agree balsa is better, but for different reasons. A light balsa bait will be more buoyant, and float clear quicker, but as long as a bait floats, it will float clear, no? So my question is are all these statements by pros and afficianados a like just because they don't take the time to "work" the crank? Do they just want to hit and keep reeling?

I'm wondering if I'm just designing for what I do, rather than what crankbait users do...

Skeeter? Jawjacker? Stringjam? Blackjack? etc. etc.?

Thanks

Craig

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I personally believe you need to hit stuff with a crankbait. Now this leads to both needing a lure retriever, as well as a crankbait designed for cover. Now personally, I think a heavier but still floating crank is better. I get longer casts, as well as more of a "freeze and shiver" on contact with an obstacle. But the more I read, the more I hear that balsa is better than plastic as it floats faster to avoid snags, thus how the B2 is good for shallow brush. I agree balsa is better, but for different reasons. A light balsa bait will be more buoyant, and float clear quicker, but as long as a bait floats, it will float clear, no? So my question is are all these statements by pros and afficianados a like just because they don't take the time to "work" the crank? Do they just want to hit and keep reeling?

I'm wondering if I'm just designing for what I do, rather than what crankbait users do...

Skeeter? Jawjacker? Stringjam? Blackjack? etc. etc.?

Thanks

Craig

I, too like cranking in cover. I think being buoyant is sometimes a plus in cover, it allows the bait to float up after hitting the snag if you pause it. Not always what the fish want though, sometimes that pause and slowly rising will get more bites.

That said, I think the biggest thing about balsa isn't so much that the bait floats up faster, you can easily achieve the same buoyancy with a plastic bait, just don't put as much weight in. I think the thing with balsa is the density, but for a different reason. You weight it and it brings the center of the mass of the bait really concentrated to where that weight is, allowing the rest of the bait to have more action.

This is one thing that makes it a good material for making baits pretty weedless. You can get a wider wobble out of it. I've noticed over time that the crankbaits I have that are the most weedless all have a wide wobble first. The wide wobble seems to keep the lure itself hitting the cover instead of the hooks.

Wide wobble, fat body, and a somewhat wide lip at a fairly steep angle are the things I'm looking for in a crankbait to throw in wood.

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The nice thing about building crankbaits is you can make them do what suits your style of fishing. In my area, fishing wood usually means pitching lures into laydowns at close range, usually less than 25 ft, and banging the crankbait back through the limbs. So castability is not a factor. I like balsa with lots of action and a fast rise in this scenario. That lets me move the bait at faster speed when I don't want the bass to examine it with a magnifying glass. At other times or in very thick wood, I might want to linger the bait. Then, you want the wiggle/action to start fast, with less pull on the line, so the bait will generate more vibrations in small open areas inside the laydown. I've use fat baits and flat sided baits with good results and like a 2 1/4" bait that weighs 1/4 to 1/3 oz. I'm not the best pitcher in the world and a light bait lands more softly and spooks fewer fish. If I were making 50 ft casts into stick-ups or scattered reeds on a flat, a heavier bait would would be required.

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I'm hesitant to make any kind of blanket statements for the superiority of one material over another in crank construction - given that the bait is properly designed around it. My best shallow crank last year was an old Charlie-O, which is a urethane foam bait. Moderate buoyancy and very tight action (something I prefer on my waters most of the time). Marty Burns made me a copy of the bait out of balsa, and really nailed the action and feel of the bait - - this is a bit of a reverse scenario for most.....designing a balsa crank to behave like a foamie. ;) Marty's bait is better than the original, though....the differences are quite subtle, but it has a slightly faster start-up (due to the lower density of the balsa?.....perhaps). Both baits have been killer for me.

Properly designed plastic baits have no problems with liveliness, either.....the O.S.P. Blitz Max has an action like a jackhammer, and an instant start-up - probably the liveliest shallow crank I've ever thrown (I think the movement would make Shakira jealous) ......and to that end, I haven't really done very well with it - so action is indeed something that the fish have to talk to you about - I know some very reputable guys that swear by the bait.

I find I can catch bass using a tight action nearly all of the time, but catch bass on cranks with a wide action a much smaller percentage of the time. Sometimes the wide action baits will get slammed, and it's on those days when I'm glad I keep them around, but if I could only have one single crank for fishing shallow cover, it would be:

- tight and lively wiggling with a little roll

- moderate to moderate/high buoyancy

- hybrid flat / round body shape (I like rounded characteristics for passing through cover, and flatsided characteristics for generating flash and vibration)

I'm glad I don't have to stick with one design though - - the varying specs all have their time and place.

I can see preferences from different builders from fishing their crank designs. I love trying them all out. I'm just getting into the building side of it though, so I'm a complete NEWBIE on the subject - and I have a lot of respect for the guys who are really great at it (BobP, Marty, Craig Cole, Rob Cochran, John Mills, Bobby Kelly, etc..)......any time these guys have something to say, I'm all ears! ;) The coolest thing about it is designing a crank precisely around your own preferences - - your own "perfect" bait that behaves exactly the way you want it to.

Edited by Stringjam

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For me a cover crank needs more than buoyancy, although it should float up fairly quickly when it makes contact with cover. The lip and body design, in combination, are what make a true cover bait, The lip should be fairly wide and the frontal section of the bait should also be fairly wide. It is my feeling that if you can keep the hooks swinging inside the arc of the lip and body your chances of hanging up are reduced.

A couple years ago Chris Sink and I teamed up on a bait which, after many prototypes, we think came up with a really good design for working heavy wood cover. We called it the CS 4X4, here is the pic. This bait casts like a bullet and comes through wood like a tire on a trampoline.

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Another attribute I really like for shallow cranks....the ability to be "jerkbaited."

I think the flatsided baits really rule at this...clear the brush and give the bait a pop, and it dances off to the side and flickers around. KILLER.

John - - my favorite cover bait from you - and this crank can really move around with the above technique. I pulled 4 bass off of one spot over a beaver pile recently just dancing this crank around.....they weren't taking a bait cranked or banged into the cover, but toss it over the stuff.......twitch - twitch - twitch - and they would kill it.

whittler1.jpg

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Thanks guys, but I was wondering more about the marketing of slow versus fast rise baits..

I was wondering if those that made production baits allowed for those less skilled in crankbaiting and kept buoyancy high.

I understand that to those that "know" crankbaiting buoyancy is relavively unimportant as long as it's positive. Buoyancy being higher is important for those casting and reeling, not those that are "working" a crankbait. My question is whether those marketing our homemades are making baits to appeal to chunk n wind or those who work a crankbait.

I'm not saying one is better, and that's why I ask!

Craig

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Don't we all design for how we think it best to fish particular cover? Craig, it sounds like you prefer to carefully "snake" a crank through cover. I prefer to move it as fast as is reasonable, and a light, buoyant crankbait designed to avoid snagging helps do that. I'm not saying close your eyes and reel like hell, or "chunk and wind". Anyone who does that into a laydown tree ain't gonna get their bait back. I'm saying keep it moving as quickly as the cover and your concentration allows, hitting stuff as often as possible. I don't fish that way because I lack the skill to snake a crank. I do it because it produces more bites for me where I fish.

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I am interested in this particular subject as I was wondering about this:

If you create a deflective bait as a flat sided lure with good rolling to have a "sexy" way for showing its sides without having to hit the rocks or logs for this wouldn't be better?

sorry for highjacking the thread about slow vs fast rising lures :)

yet, I like some lures to slow/fast sink with vertical movement , as I cast them near topwater structures and let them sink for the predators beneath them to strike. :lol:

P.S. as being sinking they have a pretty high amount of ballast so I gently stop the wire before the lure hits the water for a better presentation

Edited by pikeman

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Pikeman, IMO the strategy behind hitting cover is to get the crankbait to deflect in a different directions, which triggers strikes. That's different from roll or shimmy, which are other good attributes. Guys build crankbaits to best fit the cover scenarios they fish most often. Your sinking crankbait may be just right for the cover scenarios you fish. In my area, laydown trees are the dominant cover so I try to build for that scenario. I think a sinking crankbait would be Snag City if fished through a blown down maple or pine tree. It's cover thick enough that most guys would only fish a worm or maybe a spinnerbait if they were feeling lucky. Bass don't see crankbaits chugging through laydowns very often and that's one reason it's effective. On the other hand, if I were fishing a floating dock, a sinking crankbait would be just the ticket to get under the corners and into the strike zone of bass suspended beneath them. I agree with you about flat sided crankbaits - I will almost always try a flat side first, any time of year, before other options. That includes in heavy wood cover, with a flat sided bait built to aid the way I like to fish that type cover.

There's no "wrong" design for crankbaits, just designs that are suited to different styles and places guys throw them.

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