Flat-sided lipless cranks have stood the test of time. The Cotton Cordell Spot and Bill Lewis Lures Rattle Trap were the originators, and now almost all manufacturers produce a variation patterned after this tried and true bait.
Here are some tips to get more bites the next time you toss them.
Count it Down
On average, flat-sided cranks sink at the rate of 1 foot per second. Key in on this fact to ensure you are always fishing "in the zone." For instance, if you are faced with a large weed flat, with the vegetation rising to 5 feet from the surface, count your bait down for 3 seconds and start cranking. This will allow you to effectively work over the top of the weeds without hanging up.
Fast and Steady Wins the Race
Flat-sided cranks need to be retrieved at a fairly quick pace in order keep them running at the desired depth. The easiest, and one of the more effective methods of retrieve, is the good 'ole chuck and wind. A straight and steady retrieve will catch fish every time. A high speed retrieve reel gets the nod to win this race.
Yo-Yo Them In
The yo-yo technique works well for garnering more attention from following fish, as well as those that are in a neutral mood. To achieve this effect, simply stop retrieving your bait every 5 or 10 seconds. Allow it to sink for a second, then rip the bait upwards by using your rod tip. You then continue with your straight retrieve.
This exaggerated cadence will give the appearance of a sick or fleeing bait fish, triggering more strikes from hungry — or agitated fish.
Most effective when working a soft mud bottom, this technique works by stopping your bait dead during the retrieve, thereby letting it bounce bottom. Sharply lift up your bait after a second and continue with a straight retrieve.
This tactic will stir up mud and silt, replicating the actions of a bait fish feeding on bottom. Many of your strikes will occur when you quickly lift your bait and resume the retrieve.
Size Them Up
Flat-sided cranks work effectively on all species of game fish. Although many anglers toss them for bass, they work equally as well on panfish, pike, muskie and walleye. Try to match the hatch when choosing your bait. A 3-inch model is perfect for large and smallmouth bass, while a 1-inch mini version will turn the crank for crappie. Jumbo versions work well for the big toothy critters.