How To Fish Crankbaits For Bass?

Fishing for bass can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, and one of the most effective ways to target this popular species is by using crankbaits. Crankbaits are versatile lures that mimic the movements of prey fish, making them a favorite choice for bass anglers. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of crankbait fishing for bass. From the basics of crankbait selection and presentation to advanced techniques, we’ll cover it all. So, grab your fishing gear and let’s dive in.

Understanding Crankbaits for Bass

Types of Crankbaits

Crankbaits come in various styles and shapes, each designed for specific fishing situations. Understanding these types is essential for successful bass fishing.

Squarebill Crankbaits

   Shallow divers, ideal for fishing near cover and structure.

   Produce wide wobbling action, attracting bass in shallow waters.

   Excellent for covering water quickly.

Deep Diving Crankbaits

   Designed to reach greater depths, often exceeding 15 feet.

   Perfect for targeting deep bass in offshore areas.

   Produce tight wobbling action.

Lipless Crankbaits

   Sink quickly, suitable for fishing in grassy or weedy environments.

   Create a subtle wiggling action and are great for yo-yo retrieves.

    Versatile lures for different conditions.

Medium Diving Crankbaits

    Offer a balance between shallow and deep divers.

    Effective for covering mid-depths, usually between 6 to 12 feet.

    Provide moderate wobble and vibrations.

Selecting the Right Crankbait

Choosing the right crankbait for the job can make or break your fishing trip. Consider the following factors when making your selection:

Water Depth and Clarity

    Squarebill and lipless crankbaits are excellent for shallow, clear waters.

    Deep divers are best for fishing in deeper, murky conditions.

Bass Feeding Patterns

   Observe what the bass are feeding on, such as shad or crawfish.

   Match your crankbait to mimic the prevalent prey.

Retrieval Speed

   Experiment with different retrieval speeds to see what the bass prefer.

   Faster retrieves often work well for active bass, while slower ones can be effective in cold water.

Color Selection

   Consider the water’s color and light conditions when choosing colors.

   Natural hues like shad patterns are versatile, but vibrant colors can attract aggressive strikes.

Matching the Hatch

Hatch matching is a critical concept in crankbait fishing. It involves selecting a crankbait that closely resembles the local forage base. Observe the prevalent baitfish and crayfish in your fishing area and choose your crankbait accordingly.

Diving Depth and Lip Size

The diving depth of a crankbait is primarily determined by the size and shape of its lip. Pay attention to the lip size, as it indicates the lure’s depth range. Smaller lips produce a shallower dive, while larger lips create a deeper dive. Understanding how to control the diving depth of your crankbait is essential for success.

Rigging and Tackle

Proper rigging and tackle are vital for efficient crankbait fishing. Let’s explore the essentials.

Rod and Reel Setup

Rod Selection

     Choose a medium to medium-heavy action rod.

     A 7-foot rod provides a good balance between casting distance and control.

Reel Selection

    Opt for a baitcasting reel with a high gear ratio (7.1:1 or higher).

    Baitcasters offer better control when using crankbaits.

Line Selection

Selecting the right fishing line is crucial, as it affects your crankbait’s performance.

Monofilament Line

    Monofilament is an excellent choice for beginners.

    It has some stretch, which can prevent hooks from tearing out.

Fluorocarbon Line

    Fluorocarbon offers better sensitivity and less stretch than monofilament.

    It’s virtually invisible underwater, which can increase your chances of success.

Braided Line with Fluorocarbon Leader

    Some anglers prefer using braided line for its strength and sensitivity.

    Attach a fluorocarbon leader to reduce visibility and provide shock absorption.

Leader Considerations

Using a leader can be beneficial, especially when fishing in clear water. A fluorocarbon leader of 12-18 inches can provide invisibility, which is vital in tricking cautious bass. Experiment with leader lengths to find what works best for your situation.

Crankbait Retrieval Techniques

Crankbaits are versatile lures, and using different retrieval techniques can increase your chances of success. Let’s explore some popular methods:

Steady Retrieve

A steady retrieve is a simple and effective way to fish crankbaits. Cast your lure and crank the handle consistently. The lure’s action and vibrations will entice bass to strike.

Stop and Go Retrieve

The stop-and-go retrieve involves periodically pausing your retrieval to mimic a wounded or dying baitfish. This can trigger strikes from bass, especially when they’re hesitant.

Bumping Bottom

When bass are holding close to the lake or riverbed, bumping the crankbait into rocks, logs, or other underwater structures can trigger predatory instincts. Retrieve your bait with controlled twitches and pauses to imitate a distressed prey.

Twitch and Pause

The twitch-and-pause technique is effective in colder water or when bass are less active. After each twitch, pause for several

 seconds to allow the crankbait to suspend, mimicking an easy target for bass.

Targeting Bass Habitats

Different types of crankbaits and retrieval techniques are more effective in specific bass habitats. Tailor your approach to the environment you’re fishing in.

Shallow Water

Shallow water is a favorite hunting ground for bass, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. Use squarebill or lipless crankbaits to target these areas, and employ a steady retrieve or stop-and-go technique.

Deep Water

For deepwater bass, deep-diving crankbaits are essential. These lures can reach depths of 15 feet or more, making them perfect for offshore fishing. Experiment with various retrieval techniques to find what triggers bites.


When fishing around submerged vegetation, lipless crankbaits are your go-to option. The sinking action allows them to work effectively in weedy areas. Bumping the bait into the vegetation and using a twitch-and-pause retrieve can lead to success.

Structure and Cover

Bass often seek shelter around structure and cover like rocks, logs, and docks. Squarebill crankbaits are excellent for fishing in and around these areas. The deflection technique, discussed later, is particularly useful in these situations.

Crankbait Seasonal Strategies

Crankbait fishing can be successful year-round if you adapt your approach to the current season. Let’s look at some seasonal strategies.


Spring is a fantastic time for crankbait fishing, as bass become more active after the winter. Start with shallow divers and work your way deeper as the water warms. Vary your retrieval speed to find the bass’s preferred tempo.


In the heat of summer, bass often move to deeper water. Deep-diving crankbaits are crucial during this season. Focus on offshore structures and use a stop-and-go or bumping technique to entice strikes.


Fall brings cooling temperatures and increased feeding activity. Medium-diving crankbaits in shad patterns are a favorite during this season. Crank your bait over submerged grass beds and along drop-offs to target feeding bass.


Winter can be challenging, as bass become less active. Slow your retrieve and use the twitch-and-pause technique with deep-diving crankbaits. Fish in deeper holes and near submerged structures where bass may seek refuge from the cold.

Advanced Crankbait Tactics

Experienced anglers often employ advanced tactics to maximize their crankbait success.

Color Variations

Bass can be picky about lure color, so it’s essential to have a variety of shades in your tackle box. Experiment with different colors and pay attention to the water’s clarity and the available light. Darker colors work well in murky water, while natural hues are effective in clear conditions.

Sound and Vibration

Some crankbaits are equipped with rattles or chambers that produce sound and vibration. In murky water or low-light conditions, these lures can be highly effective in attracting bass. However, in clear water, silent crankbaits may work better as they won’t spook wary fish.

Overcoming Obstacles

Fishing in and around structure and cover can lead to snags. To minimize frustration, choose a crankbait with a square bill that can help deflect off obstacles. This technique not only reduces the risk of losing your lure but can also trigger strikes from bass.

The Deflection Technique

When fishing near rocks or other structure, use the deflection technique to your advantage. Reel in your crankbait steadily, and when you feel it contact an obstacle, momentarily pause and let the bait deflect. This sudden change in movement can provoke a bass into striking.

Caring for Your Crankbaits

Taking care of your crankbaits ensures they remain effective and last longer. Follow these maintenance and storage tips.


Clean Your Lures After each fishing trip, rinse your crankbaits with fresh water to remove any dirt, salt, or debris.

Check Hooks Inspect and sharpen the hooks regularly to ensure they’re sharp and reliable.

Replace Split Rings If the split rings or hooks show signs of wear, replace them to maintain lure integrity.


Use Tackle Trays Organize your crankbaits in tackle trays with adjustable dividers to prevent tangling and keep them easily accessible.

Store in a Cool, Dry Place Keep your crankbaits in a cool, dry environment to prevent rust and damage.

Protect the Finish Use lure wraps or soft cases to protect the finish of your crankbaits from scratches and fading.

Crankbait Modifications

Experienced anglers often make modifications to their crankbaits to improve their performance. These modifications can include changing hooks, split rings, or adding rattles. Experiment with these changes to find what works best for your specific fishing conditions.

Safety and Conservation

Fishing responsibly is essential to protect the environment and ensure the longevity of the sport. Follow these safety and conservation guidelines.

Catch and Release

Handle Fish with Care Minimize stress on caught fish by handling them gently and quickly.

Use Proper Release Tools Carry pliers or hook removers to safely release hooked fish.

Observe Local Regulations Follow size and bag limits, as well as any specific rules for the water you’re fishing.

Responsible Fishing

Dispose of Trash Properly Pack out all trash and fishing equipment to keep water bodies clean.

Respect Wildlife Avoid disturbing other wildlife while fishing, and keep a safe distance from nesting birds and animals.

Educate Others Share your knowledge and passion for fishing while promoting responsible practices to protect natural habitats.

Top Crankbaits for Bass Fishing

Brand Spotlight Several reputable brands offer a wide range of crankbaits suitable for bass fishing. Some of the most popular brands include.

Rapala Known for their high-quality lures, Rapala offers a variety of crankbaits designed for different conditions and preferences.

Strike King Strike King is a favorite among bass anglers, with an extensive lineup of crankbaits in various sizes, colors, and diving depths.

Lucky Craft Lucky Craft is well-regarded for its innovative designs and premium finishes on crankbaits.

Product Recommendations

Rapala Shad Rap An iconic lure that excels in imitating baitfish, available in various sizes and colors.

Strike King KVD Squarebill A squarebill crankbait designed in collaboration with Kevin VanDam, offering excellent deflection capabilities.

Lucky Craft BDS Series Known for its silent crankbaits and realistic finishes that mimic local forage.

Customer Reviews

Here are some comments from anglers who have found success with crankbaits:

The Lucky Craft BDS 4 is my go-to lure for bass fishing. The action and finish are unmatched, and I’ve had incredible results in both shallow and deep waters.

Rapala Shad Raps are timeless classics. I’ve caught more bass on these lures than any other.

The Strike King KVD Squarebill is a game-changer. It’s my secret weapon for fishing in heavy cover, and the deflection technique really works.


What are crankbaits, and why are they effective for bass fishing?

Crankbaits are lures with a lip that causes them to dive and wobble in the water, mimicking injured baitfish. Their realistic action makes them enticing to bass.

What type of fishing rod is suitable for crankbait fishing?

A medium to medium-heavy baitcasting rod with a moderate or moderate-fast action is often recommended for casting and retrieving crankbaits.

When is the best time to use shallow diving crankbaits for bass?

Shallow diving crankbaits are most effective when targeting bass in water depths of 1 to 6 feet, especially during the pre-spawn and post-spawn periods.

How can you vary your retrieve speed to entice bass with crankbaits?

To trigger strikes, you can experiment with different retrieve speeds, including slow and steady, erratic pauses, and faster bursts, depending on bass activity and preferences.

What should you do if your crankbait gets snagged on underwater structure?

When your crankbait gets snagged, try gently jerking the line or changing your retrieval direction to dislodge it. If it remains stuck, consider using a lure retriever tool to free it without losing your bait.


Crankbait fishing for bass is a thrilling pursuit that requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and the right gear. By understanding the types of crankbaits, selecting the right lures for your conditions, and employing various retrieval techniques, you can increase your success on the water. Remember to adapt your tactics to the season and the specific habitat you’re fishing in. Fishing responsibly and taking care of your gear ensures the sport remains enjoyable for years to come. So, get out there, cast your crankbait, and reel in some impressive bass.

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