Jul 5, 2012
I just got back from a very productive weekend of pre-fishing. The water temp was in the upper 80's. The water had a slight stain to it, however I could still see about 3' deep. No, I was not fishing deep brush piles or ledges. I was actually fishing a KVD square bill crank bait in 5' of water and less! Today, I will let you in on a highly overlooked pattern and when to apply it to your day on the water.
The first thing I need to cover is the right equipment to be using for this presentation. Lets start with the proper rod. I have come to rely on the Crankin Stick from Bass Pro Shops, in a 6'6" to a 7' model in the medium action. This rod has the right amount of backbone to pull fish from cover, yet enough flex that it will not pull hooks out of the fish's mouth. You will want the shorter rod for pinpointing targets at close range. It will give you better accuracy. I use the long rod to cover the water with long casts until I find what the fish are hiding in, then I switch to the shorter rod to pick the cover apart. You are going to need to make multiple cast to a likely target. Remember, this is summertime and the water is hot, so the fish are going to be a little sluggish in the warmer water.
Next, we need the proper reel and line to use. I prefer a slow gear ratio reel for all my crankin. It makes it a lot easier to slow a bait down. I use the Bass Pro Shops, Pro Qualifier in a 5:2.1 gear ratio. What this slower ratio does for me is give me the power I need to get a fish away from the cover as well as slow the baits way down during a retrieve! As far as line goes, I feel that the XPS Fluorocarbon line is the only way to go! I will use between 12# - 20# line depending on the cover.
Why so big of line? In this presentation, you are going to be throwing the bait right into the lay downs and bushes that are in the water. This bait will need to bounce off the cover to get a strike! The next thing that must be changed on all crankbaits before I will use them, is to change the factory trebles out with high quality treble hooks. I have come to like the Mustad KVD Triple Grip Elite treble hooks. I have found that my hook to land ratio has gone up and I do not have to replace them as often as the cheaper hooks. I will go one size larger than what the bait comes with standard. The reason for this is you will need a stronger hook so that you do not straighten the hooks out trying to get the fish out of the cover.
So where and when should this bait be used? Everybody knows this bait shines in the spring during the Post Spawn phase, however it will produce during the dog days of summer just as well. What I look for are high skies and very little wind! Then I start looking for a slight stained area of water that has some type of wood cover in the water around 3' - 8' deep. In the summer I like main lake and secondary points. The key to this kind of fishing is to keep the bait moving pretty fast, just digging it into the bottom and bouncing it off the cover. You will get hung up from time to time but the water is shallow so you will be able to retrieve the bait very easy. What you are looking to do is get a reaction strike. Some days you will cast 1 time to a lay down and catch one. Other days you will have to make 15 - 20 casts before the fish will hit. This is usually a 1 or 2 fish pattern, but it can be very productive if you know where the lay downs, stumps, brush piles, etc. are around your lake. The size of fish you will be catching may surprise you as well. I have had days where I caught 2 dozen 3 pound fish in water that is 92 degrees and the fish were only 4' deep.
All the above equipment can be purchased at your local Bass Pro Shop or online. For more info on this technique, check out the TV series "The Bass Pros" or go online to YouTube and search for “square bill crankbait fishing.” Some very good videos are there for your enjoyment.
Written by Travis Clemen