Crank Up the Fun With Mini-Crankbaits

News & Tips: Crank Up the Fun With Mini-Crankbaits

Mention crankbaiting and most anglers picture hefty baitcast reels, heavy line, stout rods and sore muscles at the day's end from hard reeling against the pressure of big-lipped lures. But there's another kind of diving plug, one that has proven its worth on a number of species in varied fishing conditions. And it's a bait that won't leave you sore at day's end from fishing it. That lure is the mini-crankbait.

CrankUpMiniCrankbaits StrikeKingProModel
Experiment with different brands, colors and sizes to which miniature crankbait works best in your local waters.
Downsizing in lures is becoming more common as fishing pressure mounts on public waters. In crankbaits, this is a particularly valuable change to make. With a mini-crankbait you still get the full-bodied silhouette and shape of a minnow. You get the enticing, wobbling and wiggling action, as well as the ability to float and twitch on the surface or dive down and kick up bottom debris as needed. But you get it in a size that won't frighten off hard-pressured fish or smaller ones that can make for an action-packed day on the water.

For sheer fun fishing, it's hard to top casting a mini-crankbait on a pond, natural lake, stream or river with an abundance of bass in the 1-3 pound range and spunky bluegills, redbreasts, shellcrackers, white bass, crappies or rockbass mixed in. The lures are also excellent for finicky walleyes, chain pickerel and trout in streams that have grown weary of looking at corn, earthworms and salmon eggs. These baits are also terrific for skittish bass in super-clear water or lethargic fish that are reluctant to strike outsized offerings after a cold front has passed through.

I like a 5- to 6-foot light or ultra-light action rod for fishing these small baits, matched with a featherweight reel and 4-6 pound line. For the most part a slow-to-moderate steady retrieve works best. Also try a stop and go action, cranking the offering down to its maximum depth, then pausing and reeling alternately all the way back to the boat. Sometimes ripping the rod in long forward sweeps can also pay off. And if you see fish swirling on top chasing shad or damsel flies, just twitching the lure or bobbing it under briefly and allowing it to float back up can pay off with rousing topwater action.

Most major lure companies manufacture miniature crankbaits, with Rebel offering some of the widest selections. Experiment with different brands, colors and sizes to see which work best on your local waters.

Soon you should develop a selection of four or five favorites in a few color patterns that produce. Then you can set up a special mini-crankbait tackle box that you grab when you want a laid-back, relaxed day on the water with no concerns about the size fish you catch or trophies — just fun as the main goal.

If you're like me, you'll always keep this mini-crankbait box onboard for those days when skittish, hard-pressured fish just don't seem to want to nail larger offerings.