Last time we talked about topwater options for the postspawn and early summer. As good as those baits are, though, they only last so long. At some point the weather and the water turn hot. We need to think about bringing them up from deep water.
There are several ways to do that but one of the best is with a deep crankbait. A deep crankbait will help you search for them. And, when you do find them it’ll catch them when they’re hungry as well as with a reaction bite when they aren’t. It’s a universal-type bass fishing lure.
My education into deep cranking came early in my career. Back in 1993, I was fishing a B.A.S.S. Top 100 tournament as an amateur. On the third day I drew the legendary crankbait pro and Bassmaster Classic champion, David Fritts. He was throwing a crankbait on slow tapering points in 15 feet of water. I was throwing a Carolina rig. He wore me out. I’ve never forgotten that day.
The toughest part of deep cranking is in your head. Deep to me used to mean anything below 12 feet. Now it means as deep as 20 feet. I know that cranking that deep is hard for a lot of anglers to wrap their heads around. Twenty feet sounds really, really deep. The thing is, though, it isn’t all that deep. Look at your bass boat. It’s probably about 20 feet long. That’s all there is to it.
Now let’s talk about how to do it. In my mind deep cranking can be broken down into four parts — the lure, the line, the rod and reel, the cast.
The lure: There are several good deep crankbaits on the market today. For my money, though, I’m going with Rapala’s Ike’s Custom Ink DT Series Crankbaits. The four deepest running models will run anywhere between 10 and 20 feet deep. That’s where you want to be at this time of the year when the fish start moving from the postspawn into a true summer pattern.
Another thing about our DT Series is that the colors have been custom designed by me for maximum effectiveness. I guarantee you they’ll all catch bass. Pick the one that matches the forage where you’re fishing. If you’re in doubt, go with a shad looking color.
The Line: Your line is what’s between a big bass and a broken heart. Why take chances? I don’t. That’s why I fish my baits on Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. It’s thin. It’s tough. It’s affordable.
I always fish with the lightest test-weight I can get away with given the size of the fish I expect to catch and the water conditions. The thing to remember about line is that the lighter the test-weight, the deeper your plug will run. As a general rule every two pounds of test weight will move your bait up or down about a foot and a half depending on whether you’re moving your line’s test-weight up or down.
And, don’t be afraid to go with light test-weights. I fish deep with 10-pound-test all the time. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon is tough. It’ll hold a knot for a while. Still, deep crankbaits put a lot of pressure on line so I recommend retying often. You know, just to be sure.
The rod: This is an easy one. I fish my deep crankbaits with my Abu Garcia Ike Delay Series Casting Rods. The longer models range from 7 feet to 7 feet, 10 inches. The longest one has a medium heavy action. The others are medium actions. They all have a moderate taper with a short delay — less than a second — when you set the hook. They’re perfect for deep crankin’.
The cast: Make as long a cast as possible and make sure it goes past your target. Every lure takes a few cranks of the reel handle to get down to its maximum depth. I usually crank fast for a few turns and then slow down a bit.
Pointing you rod tip down helps with depth and so does a medium or high-speed reel. I personally use an Abu Garcia REVO Ike Casting reel with a 6.6:1 gear ratio. That gives me what I need as far as speed and power is concerned.
Now I want to tell you the most important thing of all about deep cranking: Hit something, anything, with your lure. Almost every bass I’ve ever caught on a crankbait happened when it was striking or deflecting off of something.
Don’t let deep bass get the better of you this year. Crank ‘em up!
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