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Gettin’ Crazy With Cranks

 “Hey, did you bring any Power Baits?”  “Yeah, but why do you need a Power Bait, you’re throwing a crankbait?”  “Just give me one, and I’ll show you.”  I took a 6 inch Power worm and added it to the front hook of my Fat Free Shad.  I then tossed it alongside the boat for my buddy to see the action.  He just stared at the bait as it danced and darted without so much as a rod twitch.  The rip rap section we were about to fish had been hit with every crankbait made over the last two days.  Two local bass clubs have had tournaments this weekend, so my buddy had his doubts on putting any smallies in the boat.  He said he would stick with his jerk bait as he had been having pretty good luck over the past couple of weeks on it. 

We started bombing the shore line with baits.  On my fourth cast, an 18 inch smallie nailed the bait.  I quickly boated the fish and called my buddy to come to the front of the boat as I had something to show him.  As I removed the hook, I pointed out that the fish had been hooked over the last few days.  He had a fresh hook wound on his lower jaw.  He quickly changed to a deep diving crank and asked for his Power Baits back, which I reluctantly gave back to him.  We had only a few short hours to fish before they locked the gate, but we managed to bang another 12 fish before it was time to load the boat on the trailer. 

As we pulled away from the parking lot, he asked me where I had learned that trick, and I told him from a seminar I had sat in on a few years back.  Since then, I have experimented with tons of different modifications on cranks.  Some I have come up with, and others I have picked from seminars or by watching locals at different tournaments.  Here are just a few crazy crank tricks I have used over the past couple of seasons. 

1.) Crank and Worm - This technique is so simple, but effective.  You need to start out with a deep diving crankbait, such as the Fat Free Shad.  The bait has to have a big enough lip to make the bait dive at a steep angle so as not to foul the back hooks, thus robbing the bait of all its action.  You add a live crawler or plastic worm to the front hook of the bait.  Run the bait next to the boat to make sure the bait is running true. 
If it is not, tune it so it will.  It is so simple.  I wish I had done it a long time ago.  It just goes to show you you’re never too old to learn new tricks.  That was one seminar I was glad I sat in on.

 2.) Double Cranks  - You have to check your regulations to be sure this technique is legal on the body of water you intend to fish.  In Illinois, it is legal on most bodies of water.  This is another rig that is very simple to make.  For top water bass, I will rig two Zara spooks or similar top water baits in tandem.  Take the first bait and remove the back hook, leaving the split ring.  Tie it to your main line going to the reel.  Take a 12 to 16 inch piece of mono and tie it to the split ring of the first bait.  Tie the second bait to the 12 to 16 inch leader.  That is all there is to it.  It may take a little practice before you develop just the right wrist action on the cast as not to foul the baits on the cast.  With a little practice, it will come.  This technique is also quite effective trolling for walleye.  You merely substitute the top water baits for floating stick baits or similar shallow diving baits and add weight to get it to the bottom.  This technique is a popular one on the Mississippi River. 

 3.) Spinner Crank - Using spinners in conjunction with crankbaits is nothing new to the fishing public.  Trollers have been using umbrella rigs for stripers for years with great success.  For those of you who don’t know what an umbrella rig is, I will try and describe it.  If you were to take the metal frame out of an umbrella, tie a short length of leader on each of the metal pieces that compose the frame of the umbrella, attach a spinner to the end of each leader, and attach a lure a foot or so behind the rig in the place where the handle would be, you would have an umbrella rig.  It was created to resemble a school of bait on the move.  That is far too complicated for me to use, so we just add an in-line spinner 24 to 36 inches above our diving crankbait or spoon.  It adds flash and vibration.  These two aspects will greatly improve your odds on attracting fish from greater distance, especially in stained waters.  The rig is not complicated, and it is very easy to make with a minimum of time and expense.  First, slide a 4 to 6 mm bead on the main line.  Second, add a clevis and blade to the line.  (I use a #2 deep cupped Bait Rigs blade, or a #5 if I want a little more flash and vibration.)  Third, add an appropriate number of beads to the line.  A good rule of thumb when making spinner rigs is to use as many beads as the blade is long.  Fourth, add a #7 barrel swivel to the line.  This completes the spinner part of our rig.  The last thing to add is your 24 to 36 inch leader and crank bait or spoon.  I have used a shortened version for casting with equal success.

 These are just a few of the ways to spice up your crankbait presentations.  I am sure with the vivid imagination of most fishermen, you can come up with literally thousands of different rigs and color combinations.  So the next time you hit the water, just tell your partner you are just Gettin’ Crazy With Cranks. 

For guided trips you can call Predator Guide Service at 309-347-1728 or e-mail me at trolling@mtco.com

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