Skeeter

Crankbaits That Hunt

37 posts in this topic

Ever since Rick Clunn said something about "Crankbaits that hunt" folks have been busting their chops and their wallets trying to get their hands on one of these baits. Check out the auctions on ebay for older Bagleys bII and bIII crankbaits with brass wire and you will see some of these baits go for tremendous amounts of money. Tons of discussions have gone on and many articles have been written about what it takes to get a crankbait to hunt. Well, now I am going to add my 2 cents on this. What makes a crankbait hunt is the action. I know....... DUH Skeet, that is just a brilliant statement. It is not the wire, it is not through wire construction, and it is not hyper-tuning. If you notice, MOST of the crankbaits that hunt are fat, shallow running crankbaits. What causes certain ones to hunt is the swing and momentum that the bait obtains as it is running. Baits that have a CONSISTANT and WIDE wobble to them have the potential to hunt. Hunting is caused from the bait swinging hard enough to intermittenly throw itself out of sync and off center as it runs. It is MOMENTUM that causes a bait to hunt. The reason the majority of these baits is wood is another clue. Wooden baits, weither made by machine or by hand are not consistantly the same. This is why some will and some won't hunt. Hunting is not something that can be controlled. It is a luck of the draw when the bait is made.

Now your probably thinking........ OK Skeet, what made you the (&^*% expert on this. The answer is, I did. I have made cranks from spring steel, brass, welding, and silver wire and have had some to hunt from each. So that counts out the brass wire theory. I have made deep running crankbaits that hunt with the line tie in the lip. So that counts out the through-wire theory. Of the baits that I have made that do hunt, I have studied them running in the water for hours trying to figure it out. What I have stated above is my conclusion. It is not an absolute. There are always freak baits out there that don't follow the norm. But from my studies, this is my best conclusion. I do believe that shallow hunting crankbaits can be an asset. A bait that shifts as it is running down the front face of a line of lilly pads or running over the top of grass beds is bennificial. However, for deep running crankbaits, it is a detriment. For deep cranking you want the bait to run straight. A bait that shifts right or left while you are trying to hit a stump or small rockpile in anything over 8 ft. is no good. You need to be able to hit that obstruction everytime you make the cast. If the bait does not run perfectly straight, you cannot do that. Very few times have I gotten a hit on a deep running crank as the bait is heading to the bottom. Don't worry about the bait shifting, to attract strikes. When that bait hits the obstruction, it will deflect. This will give you the hit if the bass is there. But the main thing to remember regardless of what we all believe, is that YOU must be proficient at locating the fish, determining their mood, and presenting the bait correctly. Baits that PERFORM correctly make that task easier.

Skeeter

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Skeeter, Interesting info! Cranks are not lures that I use much, and therefore am interested in learning more about.

If I understand what you're saying correctly, you are talking about cranks that dart off track side to side occasionally as if striking an object, due to properties of the individual crank. Is that correct?

If so, whats the difference between one that hunts & one that just may not be tuned properly? I am familiar with some of the methods used to make a crank track straight, but it sounds like you're saying that's not necessarily important in a shallow running crank.

Is that correct?

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A crank that hunts will jump either left or right and then jump back to center as it is being retrieved. The amount of times that a bait does it during the retrieve is just a characteristic of that particular bait. If a bait does a "twitch" during a retrieve and corrects itself without loosing its action, then I believe this can aid in a reaction strike from shallow fish. This twitch is not a real severe thing such as the bait striking an object. It is just a slight shift either right or left as the bait is running. However, the bait still returns to center as it runs.

A bait that is not tuned properly heads either right or left and never goes back to running straight. It just runs off of the road and keeps on going.

A perfectly tuned bait runs straight. Even ones that hunt come back to center.

Skeeter

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Thanks again Skeeter,

Good points and, as always, well put. Couldn't agree more with everything you've said. One additional point I'd like to make - lots of good crankbait can be made to 'hunt' with a little judicious rod tip action or the occasional faster crank of the reel handle. Don't rely on a straight, constant rate of retrieve, make those babies twitch!

Regards

Greg

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Skeeter, I think I remember reading this a long time ago while lurking. I found it by accident today and thought it would pertain to some recent activity and discussions.

That is some good information there folks.

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Interesting!!!I juste made a mold for my lure!It's a shallow version on my deep diver that i am making sins a few years now!AND!!!IT Hunts!!I made my testing runs last summer whit a prototype!The action was awesome!!At first I was sure that he was not tuned well!!!!But that was not the case!!Perfect action!!!left center,more left and center again,right,center...Jack pot!!!I just molded the first about 30 min.ago!!I hope that it will do the same as the prototype!!!If so!!I got there a perfect lure for musky fishing!!!I'll let you know!If it's still a perfect lure in a few weeks!I realy hope so!!A lot of work on that one!!!Cheers and good luck guys!

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I'd like to add, prey fish don't often swim in straight lines in shallow water so crankbaits that do are missing an element of realism. Hunting is a nice extra. But a mania to find hunters (especially commercial plastic ones) can be frustrating and misdirected. You can make any straight line bait "hunt". Just bounce it off every piece of cover you can! Some cringe at making a $15 crankbait deflect 10 times while retrieving it through standing timber. Relax! It will get you many more bites and that's what it's all about. If it don't catch nothing, it ain't worth nothing IMO.

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Two of my favorite "production" lures with a search action are the Hot-n-Tot & the Willy's Worm (WW's are no longer made, unfortunately, but I've got a couple dozen:) ) . Both similar baits with that on the edge of out of control action. They don't look like anything natural from this world, but they'll catch just about any game fish going. Troll 'em out in Lake Erie & Saginaw Bay for 'eye's. Plugin' the rivers for steelies, browns & salmon. Great triggering action. Got that short wide body & big lip. I made up a couple bigger jointed versions for pike/musky but I'm still bending/grinding/adjusting the lips to get what I want. Gettin' close, though.

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I'd have to say u can make a lure hunt on purpose... A lure that hunts is just a bit off ballance. U can make this things happen on purpose. For example weighting a lure:

U weigh a lure normally(one that doesn't hunt), and the exact same replica of the lure, with a small(extreamly small) piece of lead, or what do u guys use as a balast, towards the tail. This is one method of making a lure hunt. It's unbalanced on purpose so it hunts.

U need to unbalance a lure up to the point it hunts. If u tend to over do it than u'r lure will probably roll, not hunt. There r other ways of making a lure hunt. Playing with weighs is one of them....don't think a lure should always have balast in one place, and one place only.

Another example: lets say u r making a floating minnow. U won't weigh it, and u'll only have the trebles as balast, in such a way that if u get the belly treble off the lure won't stay vertical. This lure will most deffenetly hunt for u.

Lip shape is another good example...but i;ll let u figgure that one out, cause that's possible as well. There r some lip shapes that'll make a lure hunt in over 50% of cases

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I have used some guys so called hunting cranks and wasn't impressed in the least. My definition of hunting baits must be completely different than many. Bottom line if it was as easy to do everyone would make them, they would be producing "hunting" crankbaits left and right. As much "lore" as there is over this trait you know the first company that comes out with a hunting lure has the biggest thing since the senko, probably two fold.

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No body said it's easy, but it's doable in a controlled manner. If u don't get it right all the time, after u;ve done it, than u'll not get the desired effect, and won't get the right action either.

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A crank that hunts will jump either left or right and then jump back to center as it is being retrieved. The amount of times that a bait does it during the retrieve is just a characteristic of that particular bait. If a bait does a "twitch" during a retrieve and corrects itself without loosing its action, then I believe this can aid in a reaction strike from shallow fish. This twitch is not a real severe thing such as the bait striking an object. It is just a slight shift either right or left as the bait is running. However, the bait still returns to center as it runs.

A bait that is not tuned properly heads either right or left and never goes back to running straight. It just runs off of the road and keeps on going.

A perfectly tuned bait runs straight. Even ones that hunt come back to center.

Skeeter

I have been following this post since day one.... for those of you who do not want or like your "hunting" baits I will be happy to give you my addy. After re-reading the above quote numerous times, maybe everyones definition of a "hunting" bait is very different.

Back when I fished ALOT, I might have 10-15 crankbaits the exact same color. While pre-fishing (when the crank bite is on) I would take the crank off as soon as it caught a good fish, and then put another exact same crank on. If it caught a fish, I would tie on another. These baits that catch fish, went into my crank box. The ones that did not catch fish went into a "dud" box. The point I am trying to make is: even though you have the exact same crank, some have just a bit more difference that catches fish better. Could it be that these baits have that "little twitch" that Skeeter talks about? Damn well could have been.... back then I new nothing about a hunting bait. I now look for anything a crank bait does that makes it special. Special cranks go in Tally's boat!!!!! Thanks JT for tipping me off on the "special" baits....:yay:

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I make cranks for myself and friends, so there's no downside in building to "push the envelope" in action. Many of them are shallow flat baits and about half of them hunt. I use brass or soft stainless safety wire for 3 reasons: it's easy to form accurately, it makes the bait easy to tune, and I personally believe it helps them hunt. Notice I say helps, not causes. I shoot for max action at moderate retrieve speeds, but not so maxed out that a bait will blow out if burned back. It's a fine line. If 20% don't make the grade, I just consider it the price of getting the baits I want to fish and which I can't buy anywhere. Hunting is just a byproduct of that process, and one I don't consider paramount. If I built for sale, 20% non-performers would be a disaster. As it is, I guarantee my buds that they'll get everything they're paying for = Nothing.

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Back when I fished ALOT, I might have 10-15 crankbaits the exact same color. While pre-fishing (when the crank bite is on) I would take the crank off as soon as it caught a good fish, and then put another exact same crank on. If it caught a fish, I would tie on another. These baits that catch fish, went into my crank box. The ones that did not catch fish went into a "dud" box. The point I am trying to make is: even though you have the exact same crank, some have just a bit more difference that catches fish better.

Tally

If I were replying to this post about five years ago, I would have said you might as well cross your fingers before each cast. But I have learned a few things since then, and now would say that is probably a brilliant approach to maximize your catch.

Even though a lot of this is chance, you are sure that the ones in the "good" box are ones that a fish DID hit. Narrowing the opportunity for failure; one of the best approaches to fishing, life, luremaking, etc.

Kind of like BobP is saying I think....you won't get one every time. But you will get some. Perhaps all the hunters need to go in a box. I will go one step further and say maybe that box should be buried as a time capsule.

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There are many causes for hunting, I have identified and explored four. Those that I have not explored and have no explanation for (as yet) are body shape and split ballast, but from what has been written on TU, it is obvious that they are out there.

1. Offset eye. This was mentioned by Skeeter if I remember correctly, if not, sorry. The eye is bent left and right to fine tune the straight running of a new lure, but if an extended eye is bent even further, the lure will start to swim in a ‘zig-zag’ pattern. I did not pursue this form of hunting as it is not pretty and would expect a 95% return of sold lures.

Referring to my recent post titled ‘death roll’. As the lure geometry approaches the ‘death roll’ configuration, the lure will start to ‘twitch’. Closer still, the ‘twitch’ becomes a ‘zig-zag’, eventually the lure blows out. The problem with this type of hunter is that a sharp tug on the lure would probably cause the lure to death roll. This can be a good feature, although it does not fall into the category of ‘under control’, the short jerk causes the bait to dart off in random directions and then resume its normal swim pattern. As was posted recently, ‘fish don’t swim in straight lines’.

The second problem, as discussed by all those that produce hunters, is that the hunting ‘band width’ is very narrow, production runs are not practical, generally every lure would have to be tuned.

2. For shallow running baits, approach death roll case No1.

3. For deep divers, approach death roll case No2.

4. Hunting lip. This solution does not involve death roll or any other instability and so the lure is always going to be a runner. As for whether production runs are possible, I am in the process of mold making as we speak and hope to report back on repeatability in the next couple of weeks.

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Check out the auctions on ebay for older Bagleys bII and bIII crankbaits.

Hunting is caused from the bait swinging hard enough to intermittenly throw itself out of sync and off center as it runs. It is MOMENTUM that causes a bait to hunt. The reason the majority of these baits is wood is another clue.

I agree with this:)

older baggley made balsa baits are among some of the finest baits on the market!

i have long been interested in this companies baits, and simlar companies cheeper plastic coppies.The balsa baits have the ability to hunt. My supporting argument would be based on a comparison of the width of the wobble! the plastic model, which is nearly identical in every aspect, but desity and weight, will not woble as wide! I suspect that the distribution of weight through out the bait may slightly influence this action, but the majority of this effect is due to the extreamly light weight of the central core of this companies baits. serriously when the two baits are run side by side they are compleately different action! so my definition of a good bait, or the hunting effect: is an extreamly wide woble. ... the effect of wobbling outside of the typical path expected........ and that does catch fish!

ps. although somewhat rare bagley made an 11inch version of the DB9's that is arguably the finest trolling bait ever made. problem is that they can shred if you get a realy big hook up(as will the other balsa serries). many claim to be thru wire. but the wire is just stuck in. its not compleate! just my 2cents to donate to this interesting topic.

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Sorry Vodkaman....

I was not the one to mention the offset eye. I cannot consistanly make a shallow running crankbait that hunts. But I know what needs to take place. I probably have a 40% success rate at producing a hunting crankbait. There is only one way for a crankbait to hunt. It is the way that I explained earlier.

Skeeter

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just curious as to why guys think that the wire is what makes the bait hunt. I don't understand the reasoning behind that. The wire should be stationary and would only be a connection point and non moveable. I have changed the internal wire three different times in my baits and I will still get a shallow crankbait to hunt the same with each wire type. Just my theory but I feel that to get the bait to act uncontrolled it is the relationship between the ballast and dive bill and/or the total finished weight of the bait in relation to its volume. The best way to get a consistant hunting bait is to take detailed notes with every build.

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I'm not sure why the definitions we all have for this would differ all that much. Even if you cannot see the lure running in the water, you can feel it in the line. If it is a shallow running bait, it is a beauty to behold.

When the bait is tested for the first time and you discover the hidden talent, well all I can say is....

:):yes:

Like I think I said before, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. Now if I can just find that oak tree....

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I hear lots of rabble rousing,saber clanging,and theories on this and that but the proof is in the pudding. Lets see some pics and diagrams, or even better, actual bait that have been fished and are confirmed hunters, maybe someone may be able to pick up on something that would benefit all of us. I have made tons of fish catching baits and a bunch of hunters, best I had was a batch 14 baits that I made 3 years ago,5 were hunters, 4 others caught fish and the rest ran straight and true, but the bait that caught the most fish day in and out was one that had a nervous twitch and did not hunt.All of these baits came from the same plank of balsa. That bait was one of those special ones. I have weighed it measured it, studied it for hours on end and I can get close to the original baits action but it is still not exactly the same. Way to many variables in the materials that I use to make baits. When I make a bait there are exactly 34 different steps that are taken to get a finished product. Maybe one of those steps is the key. Until then trial and error is the way to go for me Tight lines boys and keep your nose to the grindstone and your fingers out of the sawblade!!

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Blackjack, your experience with the 14 is all too familiar. My very best fish catching baits, on detailed examination, are exactly like the others in their batch. Same weight to .01 ounce, same bill angle, etc, etc. My guess is very small differences in shape and wood density that I can't see make the difference. And there is no reasonable way for me to make them more alike with handbuilding. Wood crankbaits will have some variability. The better you get at building, the more you reduce it, but you can't eliminate it.

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My guess is very small differences in shape and wood density that I can't see make the difference. And there is no reasonable way for me to make them more alike with handbuilding. Wood crankbaits will have some variability. The better you get at building, the more you reduce it, but you can't eliminate it.

Very well said. I think maybe the approach for those who want to sell them is a "hunter trader" forum. I could be way off base, but maybe those special baits should not be buried, but rather auctioned off to the highest bidder?

I guess China would bid the highest price on all of them.

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:) If you make hundreds of crankbaits, you'll get a statistical bell curve of crankbait grading. As you gain experience, you work to make the curve skew to the right but there are always going to be above average and below average baits. Personally, I don't look for hunters. I look for a particular thump rythym and amplitude that has been the most productive for me over the years. Hunting doesn't seem to have much to do with it and I try not to get wrapped around the axle about it. But that's just me.

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