The shallow running crankbait is one lure that stands out from the pack — specialized in design to pull skinny water largemouth off of structure and into the waiting landing net. This easy-to-work bait is a proven producer throughout the seasons, making it one of the top choices for consistently putting fish in the boat.
Why They Work
Shallow crankbaits appeal to largemouth bass on many levels. Foremost, they replicate a readily-available and preferred food source, both in size, color and action. It is also this latter trait — a slow, methodical and tantalizing motion — that allows fish to easily spot, hone in on and strike.
Sound also comes into play. Rattles call fish in from afar (especially when water clarity is stained) while 'silent' versions offer a natural approach when fish are skittish and water is clear.
True shallow bass cranks are designed with a square lip. This serves two purposes. It provides the back and forth wobble that is key for attracting strikes. A lip of this style also allows the bait to easily deflect off any underwater structure it may come into contact with. This is an important concept to understand. Largemouth bass key-in on changes in bait behaviour. A sudden rise, turn, or stop often triggers a strike reflex. When a shallow crankbait connects with a wood stump and is rapidly deflected away and off to the side, it is this change in direction — as well as the audible sound created - that will result in a strike.
The fact that shallow crankbaits run just below the surface is another key triggering point. Bait often school up in numbers. This is a protective trait that ensures survival. Solitary bait near the surface is often a result of sickness — or a wayward fish that has become disorientated and separated from the pack. As a top predator, largemouth bass seek out these easy meals. The shallow crankbait you are tossing plays into this scheme perfectly.
The Finer Points
Start with a crankbait that dives down two feet or less. The body should be a "fat" profile and measure between 2.5 and 2.75 inches long. Look for baits that are well constructed with rigid square bills. Premium treble hooks should also be part of the equation.
I carry a selection of rattle and silent baits. It is often best to let the fish dictate what they prefer that day, as conditions and fish behaviors change frequently. I have witnessed fish shy away from a rattle bait on multiple occasions, only to smash a silent bait on a subsequent cast.
Where to Throw
Shallow cranks can be tossed virtually anywhere, but key structure areas are more conducive for holding and catching largemouth bass. These include:
- Downed Trees and Stumps
- Sub-Surface Vegetation
- Boulders and Slab Rock
A specialized baitcast cranking stick is preferred when tossing shallow cranks. Look for a medium to medium-heavy rod measuring 7-foot, 6 inches in length. A longer rod allows you to cast baits further and will aid in hook sets and the playing of fish.
A moderate taper with a light but forgiving tip will ensure that fish can take a bait with little resistance, while also staying pegged once hooked.
Pair up your cranking stick with a 5.4:1 gear ratio reel. This will provide power and optimum retrieve speed.