Ontario Bass Fishing

Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass Fishing Techniques

Crank Up That Next Smallie




Crankbaits have a universal appeal when it comes to luring in smallmouth bass. Whether they represent a baitfish or crawdad to the opportunistic bass, the end result is always the same – another bass in the boat. Although crankbaits come in hundreds of styles and shapes, a select few can get the job done right when applied correctly. Utilize these tips and tricks the next time you hit the water, and have fun cranking in bass after bass.

Minnow Baits/Twitch Baits
Twitch baits are long, slender “minnow-shaped” plugs that can range in length between three and six inches. (Five to six inches is the preferred size for bronze back fishing.) Most twitch baits are designed with a small lip, causing baits to run anywhere from just below the surface to six-feet down. You can also find suspending models that will hold at a certain depth, and “freeze” when the angler stops cranking. These can be great when fish are in a neutral or negative mood.
Twitchbaits are a handy addition to the tackle box as they can be used in a multitude of applications. The one key that seems to be the triggering device is the quick “snaps” and “tugs” of the rod tip that imparts a definite stop-and-go action. There’s something about this fast twitch method that drives smallmouth wild! You really can’t work this bait too fast for the speedy smallmouth, and I’ve found that the more erratic you work the bait, the better the results will be. Experiment with long tugs, short tugs and varying lengths of pauses until you find out what the smallies are looking for.
Twitchbaits can be fished almost anywhere you can find smallmouth bass, although they really shine in water that is less than twenty feet deep. In fact, many of my better days on the water are when I concentrate on ten to twenty-foot depths and twitch my way through the area. The clearer the water the better the action, as this bait is essentially a sight lure for smallies to hone in on, although the built-in rattles certainly can call them in for a closer look. Try to “match the hatch” when choosing colors – predominant baitfish colors will usually do the trick.
Pay attention to shallow feeding shelves, underwater humps and rock shoals, and be prepared to twitch your way to more and bigger bass.

“Rattle-Trap” Style Baits
This bait is quite unique looking, with no built-in lip to give it a set running depth. The body is very flat, and both ends meet in a distinct point. The hard plastic body cavity is filled with BB shot, producing an extremely loud vibration when pulled through the water. (This is the key to its fish catching ability.)
One of the first baits on the market was the Rattle Spot, with the Rattle Trap following shortly thereafter. Most manufacturers have a bait in their lineup that is a twin of the original, and all work superb when put in the hands of an angler.
Since these baits have no lip for depth, they can be fished as deep or as shallow as needed. They can be “counted down” to the depth you wish to target, as the rate of decent is roughly one-foot per second. Once at your predetermined depth, it is time for the retrieve. Pulling one of these baits through the water is simple. Crank it in steadily at a medium to fast rate, pausing for a few “jerks” along the way for added sound and attraction. When a fish strikes, you will most certainly know about it!! Smallmouth clobber rattle-traps in a kamikaze style, hard and fast, almost ripping the rod out of your hand if you’re not ready for it. Hit them with a mighty hookset, and sit back to enjoy the tussle they will give you.

Shallow and Deep Divers
The last category for crankbaits covers all of the generic shallow and deep divers. Most baits are similar looking (short, stubby body) with the only difference being the size of lip to dictate running depth. They come in a myriad of colors, ranging from natural to extremely bright. Carry an assortment of each, and lean towards natural shades for clear water and brighter hues for murky situations.
When stocking up your tackle box, try to have a selection of these cranks to cover varying water depths. Have at least one bait that runs shallow (1-5 feet), medium (5-10) and deep (10-20 feet.) My suggestion would be to have a few of each variety in different shades of color and by different manufacturers. This way you will have all of the bases covered.
Retrieves for this style of crank is also straightforward. A constant slow to medium retrieve rate is sure to do the trick, and letting your bait periodically bump bottom can up its effectiveness.
Crankbaits and smallmouth bass make a perfect pair. Carrying the basic lures will enable you to catch a bundle of bass, without breaking the bank in the process. Learn the in’s and out’s of each style of bait, and be prepared to crank them in all day long.

by Justin Hoffman