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Crazy for Crankbaits

by Samuel. Forbes

Anglers seem to be very inquisitive people.  We are always probing for any advice that can lead to more fish.  Perhaps the most commonly sought after bit of information is a pretty obvious one.
What can I tie on that will work the best?  Well, the answer to that question is becoming more and more unanimous.  It is a lure that dominates tackle boxes all across the country.  Yes, I speak of the crankbait.  They have been with us from the beginning and are responsible for millions of big fish and fond memories.  They can be used anywhere to catch virtually any specie of fish.  It is the one lure that you can truly say, "Don't leave home without it."
When going through the aisles of your local tackle shop, you have probably noticed that crankbaits are available in a plethora of sizes, shapes, and colors.  This can be a little intimidating, and especially so if you are not that familiar with them.  Never fear though, I was there once myself  and can say with confidence that with a little patience and an open ear, you will soon be on your way to some really nice fish.  Here are a few pointers that have really helped me when it comes to selecting the right crankbaits.

Probably the first step in selecting the right crankbait is deciding what fish you are going to pursue.  Then proceed by selecting the right shape.  One general rule that seems to work, is to match the shape of the lure to the actual shape of the fish you want to catch.  For example, use a long, slender bait when fishing for walleye and a shorter more stout bait when targeting largemouth bass.  I have seen this work on countless occasions.  Another way to select the shape or style, is to match the crankbait to the forage base of the fish you are after.  If you are fishing a body of water that has a high shad population then obviously a shad style bait would be your best choice.  When fishing a river you could go with a minnow style or a crayfish imitator.  If you are not sure what the forage base is, ask someone from the local tackle shop or at the boat launch.  They should be able to point you in the right direction. 

The next thing to look at is colors.  Crankbaits are available in every color imaginable, but you will probably want to start off with a few of the basics.  Usually a selection of a few natural colored baits and several brightly colored ones will cover most fishing scenarios.  Once again, you can try to match the forage base with the proper lure.  If you are fishing a lake that is stocked with trout, you could try a standard rainbow pattern.  When fishing larger streams and rivers a crayfish pattern could work best.  Water clarity is another important factor when selecting color.  Generally, when fishing in dark or stained water, start with a bright pattern such as chartreuse or firetiger.  For clear water, a more natural pattern like silver or gold can be best. 

Size should determine your selection as well.  The caliber of fish you want to catch is something to consider.  Yes, trophy sized fish will hit small lures and vice versa, but in many cases, bigger lures mean bigger fish.  A smaller lure will more than likely produce greater numbers throughout the course of the day so the choice is quite simply, quantity or quality.  Further selections can be based on the natural growth cycle of baitfish, meaning smaller in the spring and bigger in the fall.

The depth at which a crankbait runs plays a key factor in your success.  Figure out how deep the fish are holding and try to pick a lure that will run just over that.  Fish almost always feed up so if you are running a lure under them, your success will be limited.  You can find baits that run more than 20 feet or as shallow 1 foot. 

Of all the brands on the market, Rapala the lures of choice by Normark, really seems to put fish in the boat day in and day out.    I have used just about everything and can say that they truly do perform on a consistent basis.  They make a wide variety of styles and patterns that will cover any and all of your angling needs.  Whether you are trolling the open waters of Lake Erie or casting to flooded timber on your local river, tying on a Rapala is always a good bet.

Remeber, none of these tips are absolute.  They are merely a place to start and hopefully point you in the right direction.  The real secret is to experiment and find out what works for you.  So get yourself a good selection of crankbaits and get ready for some fast and furious action.  See you on the water!

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