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Old 01-25-14, 02:57 PM   #1
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Default Crankbaits - most brands ok?

I've been a collector versus user of crankbaits for over 30 years and to this day still rarely use them, but jigs and soft plastics 95% of the time. I own many brand names that I'm sure have been endorsed by one pro or another and stocked up when they were much cheaper than in today's catalogs. Here are the brands and some models from which you may remember the body and bill shapes:

Bagley Killer B
Rapala Risto Rap
Rapala Fat Rap
Rapala Shad Rap
Jim Rogers crankbaits
Bill Norman N series in different sizes
Cotten Cordell
Arbogast cedar plugs in many shapes and colors
Bomber Model A series
Bomber Fat Free Shad
Bomber Long A
Storm Wiggle Wart and other deep divers
Smitwick Rattln Rogue
Yozuri jerkbaits
Bass Pro XTS (still only $2.99)

The most expensive crankbaits today are over $12 each, whereas these cost $2-$5.
Rebels look cheap, but are they less effective at the same depth as the more expensive plugs? Same for most of the other plastic crankbaits listed.
Are these some of the brands and styles you still use?

I have to admit that though I've caught fish on crankbaits, confidence in them needs to be built up because they are some of the finest search baits made and I'm probably missing out on fish suspended off structure.

A little help please.

Last edited by senkosam; 01-25-14 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 01-25-14, 04:38 PM   #2
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Your tackle box isn't ANYTHING like mine.

Of all the brands/models you list only a couple can be found among the 120 or so hard baits in my lure boxes.

I have 3 Smithwick Rogues (jerk baits) and I bought them about 10 years ago.
I also have a couple Rapala Shad Raps.

I'm not suggesting that the brands & models mentioned are not good baits or won't catch fish. But I have others that I have confidence in and a few years ago I decided to get rid of the more than 300 mixed brand hard lures - mainly because I had so many and a lot never saw water. I decided to "concentrate" on a few brands in each specific class that I had confidence in. My list is pretty short but is not consistent across the different styles of hard lures. My list indicates the main brands you'll find, there may be an odd one here and there but the vast majority of each type is covered by 2 or three brands.

Top water: Lucky Craft & Excalibur
Wake bait: Lucky Craft
Lipless: Excalibur, Stike King & Lucky Craft
Jerk bait: Lucky Craft & Rapala
Shallow cranks: Lucky Craft, Jackall & Strike King
Midium cranks: Lucky Craft, Jackall & Strike King.
Deep cranks: Lucky Craft (don't fish them often so I don't have many)
Swim bait: True tungsten & Strike King (another lure I seldom use)

Last edited by bassboogieman; 01-25-14 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 01-25-14, 05:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for getting me enough information to begin the quest for the perfect crankbait!
I know, there is no such thing and I'll have to take in consideration the following I started reading about after doing a search:

1. depth

2. bill shape and length or lipless

3. suspending or not (I use my X Raps and Husky Jerks for that)

4. plug size (length and width)

5. vibration and action compared between lures(based on 2 and 4) (no rattles as good?)

6. seasonal considerations (I've read that lipless are better in spring)

7. type of bottom (I've also read that a crankbait should tick off rocks to make noise (Clunn tip)

8. retrieve speed range between similarly designed crankbaits

9. buoyancy differences (Bagley Balsa rises faster and pauses should be less to maintain depth)

10. which type and test line depending on the crankbait and where and how it is to be used (is heavier test preferred in certain situations?)

Once shallow lakes (those that average 10' or less) have a good weed growth, is there much use for crankbaits? That's usually when I start using jigs, soft plastics and semi-weedless lures. Hopefully I'll follow through and fish deeper waters in my area in order to get more experience with crankbaits.
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Old 01-25-14, 06:32 PM   #4
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I've caught some pretty big bass on cranks in less than 3 ft of water. Both lipped and lipless. Haven't had much luck on suspending baits. Never have caught anything on rattle baits without rattles because I don't have any not counting suspending types and rapalas. Lipless do good for me year around and lipped baits seem to be better in the warmer months. I have caught bass on all types of bottoms with either style cranks. As far as speed it varies. Never paid much attention to buoyancy differences. I mostly use 10 12 and 14lb test. So yes different lb test according to lure and cover. Shallow lakes have never stopped me from using cranks.
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Old 01-25-14, 08:41 PM   #5
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I'll tell you the same thing as before: Only the fish know what they will eat on any given day, they will remain tight lipped if you inquire of them.

The other thing is I've stayed with about 3 colors throughout the various lines. Shad in both primarily white/black or silver/black or blue, and one with some chartreuse for heavy stained water.

I don't bother with suspending baits (except for jerk baits) as I work them under constant, but varying speed and maybe a pause or two. I don't stop a crank bait and let it set - others do and I guess it works, but I don't. Might as well mention buoyancy here too, not something I concern myself with, I choose a bait based on running depth and when pausing retrieve I don't care if it suspends or rises a little - both work but it's too much thought to consider what I want a bait to do on the pause. This IS a consideration for me when using a jerk bait, not so with a crank. Some guys put a lot of thought into that, again I'm not a tournament fisherman looking for a check but getting money for catching fish may require more pre-cast thought.

Rattles? Some-a-time yes, some-a-time no. I like noisy baits in stained water, silent in clear OR on lakes that get a lot of pressure - EVERYBODY uses a rattle bait, so bass may be a bit conditioned to the noise then a silent bait may get you bit.

Bill shape? Well, I like a square bill in weeds or wood and a rounded bill on rock bottom. Length of bill? totally depends on water depth or on a mud bottom you can use a deeper diver to stir up the mud.

Line: thinner the better to get maximum depth and one that sinks, oh, and has a little stretch. I prefer a co-poly as it's thinner at comparable "test" than mono, ie - you can use 8# co-poly vs 12# mono and you have a very close breaking strength but the lure will dive deeper with the co-poly. I like a bit of stretch with treble hooks and a moderate action rod for the same reason - I know you didn't ask about the rod, I just threw that in as a freebie.

Lure size? I fish for fun and am not always looking for big fish as a tournament angler would, I just want to catch fish. I like a crank between 2" and 3" most times. A big fish will eat a small lure, and a small fish sometimes has eyes bigger than it's stomach so it's not a hard & fast rule. Round body vs flat body - well they have a different wobble for sure. I like the flat side when the water is warmer (and more open) when fish are willing to chase the faster wobble (and vibration) will some time set them off in pursuit. I kinda think of it as a diving trap. I like rounded bodies in cooler water and cover - I think the flat cranks are more likely to snag in cover.

Crank baits in weeds? Too much work for me, you can't avoid bringing a pound of grass back to the boat with every cast. Exception - I fish a shallow diver with a square bill in lilly pads. Throw it back in the pads and work it out - it's not easy fishing but it works.

Seasonal: lipless work all year long, difference may be that you work it differently. Crank baits I like spring and fall in 10' or less until water temps reach or drop below mid-60's. Deep divers in summer, after the water warms and bass move deeper. I rarely fish them as I don't like fishing deep water with cranks - it's work.

Bait weights: most of mine are 3/8 or 1/2 oz for lipless and cranks. I have a few lighter top water and some 3/4 oz lipless (more for stripers than bass). I also have a couple of the mid-range cranks that run 5/8 oz which is part of the reason they run the depth they do.

You have it nailed on the fact that there is no ONE perfect crank bait, probably not even six. A variety is essential, but avoid overload and so many decision by sticking with 3 or 4 basic colors/patterns in each lure class. A lot of considerations when choosing a bait and you can drive yourself nutz trying to account for each little piece of the reasoning for selecting a particular bait. I like KISS, the more choices you have the more opportunity to make a mistake, limit you choices to color & depth, the rest you lies in the retrieve.

Just think, if you only had ONE of each crank bait on the rack at BPS... how the heck would you be able to choose which one to tie on? It would take a least an hour to find the one you wanted, don't go there. I was once in that trap and I hope never to fall into it again.

One final note: HOOKS, there are several lure brands I've used in the past that have hooks that should never be attached to a lure. Cheap, excuse me, economy priced lures in virtually every case need the hooks replaced before you tie it on. Premium lures USUALLY have decent hooks but some of them need an upgrade too. I love Owner treble hooks, they are what I use to replace poor quality or damaged hooks on my hard baits.

Last edited by bassboogieman; 01-25-14 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 01-25-14, 08:45 PM   #6
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Bagley Killer B--this would be an excellent crank for the shallow lake

Rapala Risto Rap--another good non-rattling wood crank---variety of sizes, the bigger the deeper

Rapala Fat Rap--the original "squarebill" excellent summer crank---kind of a sleeper

Rapala Shad Rap--one of my favorites of all on spinning tackle for all sizes less than #8

Jim Rogers crankbaits--not familiar
Bill Norman N series in different sizes--good for the money--best in the deep runners

Cotten Cordell-not a fan unless you've got some of the really old ones in the foil pattern....if so pm me!..(cranks-not lipless)

Rebel-another value conscious choice

Poe-i love cedar cranks...these can be hard to to keep tuned...but deadly in the right hands

Arbogast cedar plugs in many shapes and colors--not familiar

Bomber Model A series-not me but loved by many

Bomber Fat Free Shad...I do pretty good on their deep stuff...BD6 and BD7 hard to beat for $6

Bomber Long A=not a crankbait

Storm Wiggle Wart--if you've got the ones before Normark bought them out then good if not then not so much

Smitwick Rattln Rogue-not a crankbait

Yozuri jerkbaits-not a crankbait
Sometimes you gotta risk it to get the biscuit.
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Old 01-25-14, 09:08 PM   #7
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I replied on another forum.
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Rochester, NY
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Old 01-25-14, 09:35 PM   #8
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Bighammer Swimbaits

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Old 01-25-14, 11:18 PM   #9
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Crankbaits are like cars n trucks and their mfg,not all models are for everyone,but some good fords and some good chevys and what is good for me may not be for you.But when one finds a model well liked be it vehicle or crankbait it normally is for a reason.Cotton cordell made several plugs I liked and still use the rest wouldn't give a Nichol for,not all pointers I like,but those I do have several thereof.Have a couple of killer b and b2,sold my poes,but have a DEE spinnerbait and well as a hildebrant wouldn't take a 20 dollar bill for,simply because they work for me.
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Old 01-26-14, 09:19 AM   #10
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Have bookmarked this page! Great insights! As many of you know, I disect lures into their individual parts that make them unique -sometimes general, sometimes specific qualties. Unlike soft massed produced plastics which are somewhat uniform in quality and action, certain crankbaits seem to have a quality fish are tuned into and become more aggressive at the lure passes by.

As far as retrieves, a friend I fished with in a large NYC reservoir proved, steady retrieve most times do as well if not better than stop & go retrieves, but more important is to hit the same spot at least twice if not three times to provoke a bass into his bully routine.
He proved it with a 7lb fish.

As far as prism reflective surfaces, I've tried them with the Fat Free Shad series and can't say whether they do or don't work never having caught a fish on them. I tend to believe as mentioned by a few of you, that shad colors are a safe bet. The only chrome colored plug I've caught fish on was a Rat L Trap, but never on a chrome colored Big N. Again, it proves nothing if a specific lure isn't used at least 500 casts in areas known to hold bass at different times of year.

When I discover from casting them that certain traits specific to certain crankbaits aren't as important as general characteristics such as depth and action, confidence will overcome doubt and superstition. Are Lucky Crafts that much better than Rapalas at half the price? A long time ago Roland Martin was quoted in an article that he would pay a reward for a certain lost crankbait that he did well on in a classic event and believed it was unique among others made by the same company. It was made of plastic.

Superstition or just something to say for a paycheck?
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