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Imakatsu Waddle Bat

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Nemo, I feel your pain about losing lures but the fact remains that maneuvering a crankbait to hit cover whenever possible is the best way to increase your catch rate with crankbaits.  Why?  Because it triggers neutral or negative bass into a reaction strike.  And MOST bass MOST times are either in a neutral or negative mood.  There are times when bass will try to eat anything moving that will fit in their mouths - but that is rare.  If you are a pond angler who fishes from shore you have an advantage over us guys who fish larger waters from boats since your bass are typically less educated and have a narrower range of prey species to eat.  That makes them susceptible to lures and retrieve methods that wouldn't get a whiff from any bass in a large lake with more fishing pressure.  Would I buy $25 custom crankbaits and throw them with abandon from shore in a farm pond?  No.  I would buy the cheapest shallow running crankbait (probably a square bill) with the best non-snag nature I could find and throw THAT with abandon - and probably only after trying some other non-snagging reaction baits like a swim jig, a bladed jig, or a spinnerbait.

 

No lure will catch fish every time without fail.  The skill of fishing is 1) finding the fish, 2) selecting the right lure, and 3) presenting it in a way that fools the little devils. 

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Fishing from the shore one should still hit all the cover you can.  I fished a lot of ponds and small lakes in college and the key was always to find the worst crap to fish in.  I also added waders to the mix but mainly relied on beefed up tackle.  I see the same thing now in this area when it comes to stream smallies.    "Guys in the know" are good anglers because they do exactly this and know how to break down a stream and skip bad water.   High dollar baits get used frequently and put through the ringer.  With braided lines, o rings, hook selection, etc.. baits are thrown  into these area to pull out bragging smallies from skinny water.  Sure you loose a bait now and then but a few 20 inch plus smallies far out weigh the few baits lost and those that do year in year out catch a lot of fish and a lot of bigger fish.    Rarely does one go after a bait as the spot is shot if you go in after but you can straighten the hooks or open the o ring and get your bait back and still catch fish the next catch, which is important as these are small waters and the good trophy fish spots far and few in a given stretch of stream.

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A few points I'd like to make here.  First, on the subject of running baits into things.  As an angler who was confined to shore for most of my life, I can tell you that in that situation, anything with treble hooks that gets snagged is usually as good as lost, unless you have heavy enough line to muscle it out, assuming that's even possible.  For years I had to avoid sinking cranks, and could only use deep divers in limited situations, so I can understand the reluctance people have to run their lures into stumps, especially with crankbaits climbing to $8-10 & more, or the amount of time spent making your own.  I'm getting over it, but losing a crankbait is still irritating. 

 

I will certainly agree that what is most important is finding fish and getting them to see your bait. You also want to show them something that looks/sounds/feels somewhat real (i.e. not pink/chartreuse in clear water on a sunny day).  But if it's that simple why don't I just fill my box with the cheapest off-brand lures and catch all kinds of fish (once I find them)?  All predators have an instinct to chase prey and expect prey to run and react to their presence.  It's the reason cats chase string, dogs chase tennis balls, and you don't want to run from a bear.  A long time ago I read something that said to twitch a topwater as soon as it hits the water or a worm as soon as it hits the bottom, because fish hear the splash and swim to investigate, and bigger fish are used to baitfish reacting to their presence.  That's what lures that 'hunt' or 'evade' are trying to trigger.  The only "evading" lure I have experience with is the scatter rap.  It works well for me, but the interesting thing is it seems to work when other lures don't, and not as well when they do.  On one occasion, I had been casting cranks off a point with no luck, and finally I threw a scatter rap in the bluegill color and caught a crappie on the first cast, and a green sunfish a few casts later.  On another occasion, I had spent 2 hours using cranks, topwaters, jerkbaits, and lizards, to produce 2 7" bass, in an area that I knew had more.  On the first two casts with the same scatter crank I caught a 10" bass, and hooked a larger one that managed to spit it out, then over the next 90 min I caught a 10" bluegill and 6 more bass, 4 of which were over 14".  After experiences like these, I tried throwing it more, and had the opposite experience.  Catching nothing in familiar places with the scatter crank, and then switching to other baits and catching fish.  I'm still not sure how much I like the scatter rap line, and some versions are definitely better than others, but I'll keep one or two will in my tacklebox.

 

I also have to admit that I'm a bit of a lure 'nerd'.  I like finding unusual lures, and baits with different actions, and not just for catching fish.  Granted, I'm not going to spend $20 on a crankbait that doesn't work any better than your typical squarebill, but they do interest me.  You can learn from these baits with exaggerated actions how lures move through the water and what caused them to do what we want them to do or don't want them to do, and apply that to your own lures.  Stephen King gave this advice to aspiring writers (I'm paraphrasing, it's been a while)- "Read good books, read bad books, so you know what to avoid, read what you love, read things you would never read, read the classics and authors you've never heard of, read everything you can get your hands on."  In the same way, it's good for lure makers to be familiar with different lure types.

 

I find hunting crankbaits are great for open water from a boat, where bass track a lure out of curiosity, and strike when it veers off, trying to escape.  They really work well for suspended fish, and for schooling fish chasing shad.

For fishing from shore, try cutting the bottom hooks off your trebles, to make them more snagproof.

Another thing to try is chatterbaits.  If you bend the top of the blade back a little, you can burn them without having the jump out of the water, and they will hunt like crazy.  Since they are a top hook bait, you can slow roll them deep, and then speed up your retrieve as you approach the shore, to elicit reaction strikes from shallow fish as it passes over them fast.

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<p>I have a boat now and do fish some larger lakes, and it's easier to take chances when you recover most of your snagged lures.  Like I said, I'm getting braver with my lures.  The point I was making, though is that if you can't float out of a snag, or muscle out, you can be screwed, and sometimes that's the worst part.  That sick feeling when a new lure gets caught, and you know there's nothing you can do except hope that it'll rip loose, and you're thinking, "I knew that was a bad idea."  I am upgrading to braided lines, and trying Nanofil, but I'm curious about that 'o ring' method, and how do I pick out hooks that can be straightened if I'm caught on a log, but not if I've got my first 10 lb-er on the line?  Any other methods you have for retrieving snagged lures from shore would be welcome.  Keep in mind wading is not always an option, since most of these small lakes have mud bottoms.</p>

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<p>Has anyone had much luck skittering a crankbait along the bottom?  I know a few people that like to do that while trolling, though I've learned to use plastic lures, esp. with metal lips, after ruining a couple balsa cranks that way. </p>

Edited by nemomark

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<p>I have a boat now and do fish some larger lakes, and it's easier to take chances when you recover most of your snagged lures.  Like I said, I'm getting braver with my lures.  The point I was making, though is that if you can't float out of a snag, or muscle out, you can be screwed, and sometimes that's the worst part.  That sick feeling when a new lure gets caught, and you know there's nothing you can do except hope that it'll rip loose, and you're thinking, "I knew that was a bad idea."  I am upgrading to braided lines, and trying Nanofil, but I'm curious about that 'o ring' method, and how do I pick out hooks that can be straightened if I'm caught on a log, but not if I've got my first 10 lb-er on the line?  Any other methods you have for retrieving snagged lures from shore would be welcome.  Keep in mind wading is not always an option, since most of these small lakes have mud bottoms.</p>

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<p>Has anyone had much luck skittering a crankbait along the bottom?  I know a few people that like to do that while trolling, though I've learned to use plastic lures, esp. with metal lips, after ruining a couple balsa cranks that way. </p>

 

One of the first things I learned when I started fishing cranks was to invest in a good lure retriever. You can also build your own if so desired. They will more than pay for themselves in the first few lures you get back. I doubt they would be much good when fishing from the bank, but can prove invaluable when fishing from a boat.

 

If your going to get the most out of a crankbait you can't be afraid to throw it into places where you think it doesn't have a chance of coming back. Some cranks come through the stumps, limbs, tangles, etc. better than others and you'll quickly learn which types of baits are best suited for this purpose. A lot of the shallow stuff you can see, but with the deeper cranks most of it you won't be able to see. That's when you'll have to learn what a lure is doing by the way it feels. With the right setup (rod/line/reel) you should be able to tell when your line is coming over a limb or if the bait is gathering up a wad of old line left on the bottom. With the right setup you can sometimes tell when a bass has come up from behind the bait and is just swimming along with it in it's mouth. You won't notice much, if any, change in line pressure, but the action of the lure has stopped when this happens. I'm sure most of us have seen video of a bass coming up and mouthing a lure and then spitting it back out with seemingly no knowledge of this happening by the fisherman. When this happens it's not something your going to have time to think about. It has to become a reaction and if your afraid of setting the hook and losing the bait your going to miss that fish. This is where you have to have confidence in your lure retriever. Your not going to get all of your cranks back even with a retriever. If your going to fish crankbaits effectively that is something your just going to have to accept.

 

You can catch fish by just throwing cranks out and reeling them back in, but to get the most out of a crankbait there's a lot more too it than that. These are the types of things that separate the weekend warriors from true crankbait fisherman.

 

School opens on your next fishing trip. Good luck.

 

Ben

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There are split rings designed to release the bait when snagged but I've never used them.  I fish from a boat and use a lure retriever but if you fish from shore and get snagged beyond the reach of your retriever, you're back to square one.  I'd be thinking along the lines of Mark's advice to modify your trebles to make the bait less snag prone.  If you use thin wire trebles that have less-tempered steel, they can be bent and modified (the cheap bronze Mustad trebles work).  Cut the barb off of the downward facing tine on the belly treble and bend the remaining wire downward so that it trails toward the rear of the bait at about 45 degrees.  Not only will you have removed the treble point that snags most often but the bent wire on that treble will make the crankbait jump over obstructions.  I used to modify inexpensive Bandit 100's and 200's (they came with Mustads) this way and use them to snake crankbaits through some very gnarly wood cover.  Using more bendable trebles will also let you force a bait out of a snag if you use 15 or 20 lb test mono, which a lot of guys prefer for shallow crankbait fishing.

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How dare you open the can of worms!!!! :nono:

 

I also tried to copy a waddle bat with limited success. Since I have used a friends and I also think its kinda a gimmic. I could never get anything close to the videos action. I didnt try tuning or doing anything to it since it wasnt mine but I cant see anything would help. It is probably like the lures we build some hunt better than others!

 

Skeeter I am not trying to discount what you said this is just my opinion...As for a hunting lure not getting as many strikes  or the same amount of strikes I have to dissagree... If you are fishing same color same pattern same everything but one hunts and the othe doesnt you will get more strikes from the hunter hands down! This is exactly why people bump, bounce, hit and drag them trough the nastiest cover around... In open water thats why people pause, yoyo and rip them. In special application the hunting ability can be diminished like ripping out/through weeds or heavy cover but I will always reach for a hunter over a non hunter. Extra action is always better than less in my book!  :argue:

 

Bob I wish I had your success rate! I am lucky to get 1 in 5 to hunt. I have not figured out the secret yet I just try to build them on the brink of insanity....errr stability!

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How dare you open the can of worms!!!! :nono:

 

I also tried to copy a waddle bat with limited success. Since I have used a friends and I also think its kinda a gimmic. I could never get anything close to the videos action. I didnt try tuning or doing anything to it since it wasnt mine but I cant see anything would help. It is probably like the lures we build some hunt better than others!

 

Skeeter I am not trying to discount what you said this is just my opinion...As for a hunting lure not getting as many strikes  or the same amount of strikes I have to dissagree... If you are fishing same color same pattern same everything but one hunts and the othe doesnt you will get more strikes from the hunter hands down! This is exactly why people bump, bounce, hit and drag them trough the nastiest cover around... In open water thats why people pause, yoyo and rip them. In special application the hunting ability can be diminished like ripping out/through weeds or heavy cover but I will always reach for a hunter over a non hunter. Extra action is always better than less in my book!  :argue:

 

Bob I wish I had your success rate! I am lucky to get 1 in 5 to hunt. I have not figured out the secret yet I just try to build them on the brink of insanity....errr stability!

 

 

A true hunter is not predictable and increases hangups in my book once you get into shallow cover and often misses hitting structure.   Most of these strikes are reaction strikes so a true running crank fished with purpose will outshine a hunter in these areas because it is in your control.  Much easier to deflect a crank off of cover when it runs true and not snag in my experience than chucking a hunter into this stuff.  It becomes more evident when I have fished with guys that are great crank guys compared to my inept self.  

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Like Skeeter I'll probably catch some flak over this, but just because a crank will hunt does not mean it is any more susceptible to hanging up than any other shallow square bill. It will deflect off cover just like a regular crank will. And just because a hunting crank has an erratic action does not mean you don't have control of it. Depending on the bait all it might take for it to change direction and head away from cover is a quick pause or a slight tap of the rod.

 

I built one that a friend told me came through cover better than any Lucky Craft or anything else he had in the boat. He went on to say how he could control it with the steps mentioned above and then went on to say  "that thing will come through a chain link fence".

 

This is just my opinion, but a lot depends on the fisherman who is in control of the bait.

 

Ben

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A true hunter is not predictable and increases hangups in my book once you get into shallow cover and often misses hitting structure.   Most of these strikes are reaction strikes so a true running crank fished with purpose will outshine a hunter in these areas because it is in your control.  Much easier to deflect a crank off of cover when it runs true and not snag in my experience than chucking a hunter into this stuff.  It becomes more evident when I have fished with guys that are great crank guys compared to my inept self.  

 

You have to think about the purpose or what you are trying to achieve with every bait you throw. And that is exactly what i stated above that with diminishing returns. If your objective is to hit 1 stump in the exact spot to coax tht one bass out then by all means huck that baby in there a bunchof times to try and get a deflection and a strike. Sometimes that is the key no doubt. Like KVD I would much rather fish for active fish and huck my hunter in that same spot once or twice and have it hunt to create my action and strikes. Like Ray said you can still control it to a degree. It will still be boucing off things and making all kinds of rukus much more than a non hunter. I also do not feel they hang up more and I have no problem with hangups. If needed I just pause and the lure usually floats up a bit and I continue my assult.

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Active fish throw what ever you want as it is going to get slammed.   :D   No need for any special bait.  

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Like Skeeter I'll probably catch some flak over this, but just because a crank will hunt does not mean it is any more susceptible to hanging up than any other shallow square bill. It will deflect off cover just like a regular crank will. And just because a hunting crank has an erratic action does not mean you don't have control of it. Depending on the bait all it might take for it to change direction and head away from cover is a quick pause or a slight tap of the rod.

 

I built one that a friend told me came through cover better than any Lucky Craft or anything else he had in the boat. He went on to say how he could control it with the steps mentioned above and then went on to say  "that thing will come through a chain link fence".

 

This is just my opinion, but a lot depends on the fisherman who is in control of the bait.

 

Ben

 

Flak, flak, flak...or is that Aflak?

I save my baits that hunt for open water.  Any squarebill that runs true will work for me in cover, and there's always a chance I'll hang it up and lose it, so I don't use my hunting lures there.

Of course, in the hands of someone who actually knows what they're doing, it may be a different story.

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Scaredy cat. :P:lol:

HAHA Ditto! hehehe sorry Mark I had too!

 

If you are in a boat you can get to them almost always cant you? Err well for me I can only make shollow divers down to 4 or 5 feet that hunt so i guess if you have a deep diver then it may be a different story. I mainly fish the CA Delta so I rarely fish the heavy cover deep and i can get to most mine by sacrificing the boat and nosing into the crud! The ones that I lose are usually burried in the rip rap and shred my line before i can find them. To each their own though!

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The way that hunting works, you cannot have a deep diving hunter. Hunting occurs when the swimming lip passes the vertical. As far as diving is concerned, there is an optimum swim angle for maximum depth. If the lip swims at a shallower or steeper angle than this optimum then the depth of the swim is reduced.

 

DAve

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