Choosing a Rod for Crankbaits

Crankbaits, as opposed to spinnerbait, frog lures, or blade baits, are types of bait that have durable bodies and either a diving lip or a tow point and a section that moves to imitate the moving bodies of baitfish to attract bass to the line. They are slightly more versatile than blade baits and frog lures but not as specialized than either one of those at their particular purposes. However, having some crankbaits around to make sure you can catch bass either in the shallows with a horizontal cast or by angling vertically in the deep water is a great idea to make sure you’ll be able to face any kind of conditions you come across. They can be some of the fastest baits you can use when used correctly, which will take the right rod to fully exploit crankbaits to their full potential. 

Crankbaits come in shallow runners and deep divers. Some mid-depth versions also exist. If you’re at a tournament and the shallows are overcrowded with anglers casting out, consider trying the depths with crankbait. If you do manage to fish the shallow waters, you’ll want a long cast and that means a longer rod. The right rod should also have the correct action to prevent anglers from reacting too early to a bite on the line and pulling the bait away before the fish has a good enough bite down on the bait. A softer action is usually the hallmark of a rod designed specifically for fishing with crankbait, also called cranking.

The casting distance is really important when you’re trying to lure a few bass from hiding spots in the shallows and aren’t bank fishing right above them. Accuracy is important for casting toward hiding spots near docks and rocks. In all of these places, there is probably going to be lots of vegetation and snags that could possibly catch on to your bait and snap your line. A rod should be stiff enough to rip the lure through these snags but not so stiff that it doesn’t offer the flexibility needed to win the tug-of-war you’ll have with a bass. The flexibility should be near the tip, but there should also be some further down the blank than you would expect if you were going frogging or fishing blade baits. 

Crankbaits come in two different types. Some have diving lips that cause them to move deeper into the water as they are pulled through it by your reel. Others, called lipless crankbaits, have a diving lip on the top of them and are more likely to be useful in vertical constructions when you’re right above the target. There are a few different strategies when it comes to cranking and the rod you choose will play a big role in their success. There are some tailor-made cranking rods that are fantastic for crankbait but there are also some rods that will work great with crankbait and also be viable rods for use when fishing with other methods. The choice is really up to the individual angler and how much they are going to be fishing and switching bait when they do. Read on to find out how crankbaits differ from other types of bait and what that means about the rod you pair them with. 

What’s the Difference Between Crankbait and Other Types of Bait?

Crankbait has many different names depending on where they’re being talked about. These may include jerk baits, swimbaits, twitch baits, tugs, or wobblers. These names are not always guaranteed to be the same as crankbait and may be designed for different purposes, so make sure you know about the different features of a specific bait before you purchase it. 

If you’re looking for crankbait, you can tell straight away from its construction. They are usually made out of wood or plastic and have either a lip or a tow point. The difference between crankbait with a lip and crankbait with a tow point is that crankbait with a tow point will be referred to as lipless crankbait. The lip on a crankbait will usually be larger than that on a jerk bait, if the particular tackle shop is entertaining any difference between the two at all. The lips can be diamond-shaped, square-shaped, or round. 

Jerk baits are usually longer and more slender and have three hooks on them. Crankbaits tend to only have two hooks. It also goes deeper than jerk bait. Many anglers mix and match both depending on what fish they are chasing and in what conditions. 

When it comes to lipless crankbait, many anglers wonder what the difference is between a lipless and a blade bait. Blade bait also doesn’t have a lip but there are some things that make the two distinct types of bait useful for different purposes. Some fish blade baits with the same techniques as they do crankbaits. The main factor in a blade bait that you don’t find in a crankbait is the weight. Blade baits are meant to be cast out and then pulled slowly very close to the bottom of the lake. They are ideal for catching bass in the winter when the water is very cold, colder than about 40 degrees. Crankbaits move through different levels of water more often and are useful when the fish are moving more and more likely to have an appetite. 

How Do you Fish with Crankbait? 

Crankbaits that have a lip will dive deeper into the water once you start to reel them in. Before you reel in, they will stay on top of the water, giving you a better idea of the distance of your cast. Some suspended crankbait has weights that give it zero or near zero buoyancy, which will cause it to sink when it hits the water and sink to a certain depth. But they will still dive when you start to reel them in. So think of the crankbait as coming back to the tip of your rod in a sort of parabola. You shouldn’t just cast the crank out and then reel it back in immediately, a mistake made by many novices. Getting a steady and slightly slower return will make the bait more appetizing to bass and more likely to net you a bite. 

In order to get the most depth possible out of crankbait, which you absolutely should do, it’s advisable to get as long a cast out as possible. The best way to do this tackle-wise is to get the right rod and the right line. The rod should be the right length to get your bait out as far as you want it. Shorter lengths can be good for shooting a short distance to a specific spot while longer rods are great for casting more generally to a bank, rocks, or just out into the depths in the middle of a lake. 

The most important part about fishing with crankbait is to think about where your target fish will be. Everything we’ve said so far in this section is for horizontal presentations when you are fishing from a boat back toward shore or trying to land your bait in a hiding spot like a dock, rocks, or vegetation. In that case, you want to get as long a cast as possible to get your bait moving through all the zones possible. From the surface or near to it, down into the depths, and then back up to the service as it heads back to the end of your rod, the crankbait will pass through multiple levels of the water, which makes it more likely to catch you a bite. 

Sometimes, the target fish will be right beneath you in the lake. You can still use crankbait for this as long as you know what to do. However, the truth of the matter is that crankbait generally isn’t going to reach a depth of, say, 25 feet, even on a long cast. So you can cast out far and then add weights to your crankbait to try and get it down low enough to tempt fish that are underneath your boat, but it’s more likely to work if you are casting long-distance to a hiding spot or the side of the lake. 

Important Attributes of a Crankbait Rod

Many people wonder why there should even be a specific rod just for fishing crankbait. Perhaps it may appear as if some crafty manufacturer has just decided to convince the populace of anglers that many rods are needed that can do the same thing. In fact, it’s actually because slight alterations in the blank of a fishing rod can greatly improve their success at catching fish in certain situations. 

What you need for fishing crankbait is a lot of bend. That means more bend than in other types of bass fishing like frogging but not as much in a fly rod. What you really want is a rod with good action, which specifically describes the flexibility at the far end of the rod. Crankbaits work best with moderate to low-action tipped rods. You will want a medium or more rigid backbone in the rod, which will help give you more power when you’re trying to reel a fish in. 

The reason the action and strength of the rod are so important, in addition to giving anglers the upper hand when they have a fish on the line, is because the motion of the crankbait is important to make sure it shakes well. This is what makes crankbaits so successful in catching bass. Crankbait mimics the movement of bass’ food source if you have the right rod and the right cast out and know how fast and how slow to reel it in. Unlike some frogging lures, it’s much less up to the angler to move the rod to make the crankbait move. It’s designed to sink and then resurface and shake while it’s being reeled in. 

So, what is the best rod for fishing crankbait?

Now that the whole process and some of the various problems one can encounter while fishing crankbait have been discussed, we can talk about the specific things you should look for in a crank baiting rod. Since it’s pretty clear that a long cast is going to be required to get the most out of crankbait and allow them to reach their maximum depth before they return to your rod, getting a rod that will allow for a long cast is very important if you want to be successful at cranking. Softer action will create a kind of slingshot effect at the release end of the cast, allowing the bait to fly further out into the water. Medium-action rods are perfect for this kind of casting and most companies that make crankbait-specific rods have made them with this kind of action at the tip. 

As we mentioned earlier, the strength of the backbone of the rod is also very important. This isn’t only because you’ll want strength on your side when you are trying to pull a fish onto the boat but also because shooting for shallows or trying to get a crankbait as deeply as possible means you’re likely to hit some snags at some point. If you have a strong enough rod, you can rip the lure past these hangups and most of the time you won’t even lose the bait. Whether it’s grass or branches, as long as you have the right kind of line on your rod, you should be able to rescue the bait if you have the right action and strength in your rod. 

Speaking of line, selecting the right weight of line can be just as important as getting the right rod. We’ll speak on line weights shortly, but if you plan on trawling with crankbaits or getting them deep in waters that aren’t clear, then you should make sure to get a fishing rod that can handle heavier line and possibly a heavier reel. A baitcaster will improve your reaction time and allow you to pause for the requisite three seconds or so to make sure you can sink a hook in a bass without scaring it away from the bait. 

In terms of length, a crankbait pole should be about 7 feet long. Sometimes if the cast distance is going to be shorter, the rod can be a few inches shorter, even down to 6’6”. Longer poles up to eight feet long can also work but may not be necessary. Anything longer than 8 feet is overkill and will only cause problems with crankbaits. 

What kind of line should I use for crankbait?

Fluorocarbon is a great all-purpose crankbait line. Monofilament is great for shallow crank baiting because it doesn’t hang up on grasses and other such things like fluorocarbon can sometimes. 

It’s important to remember how critical the action of crankbait is to attracting a bite on your line. A heavier line can prevent this movement from happening and dampen your chances. It’s better to have an abrasion-resistant low-stretch monofilament. Braids can also work sometimes, although some of them are a bit too slick. Keep the weight in between standard 10-pound weight line and 14-pound weight. 8-pound stuff will probably snap too easily with crankbait. 

Final Verdict: 

Overall, there are a few specifics of a fishing rod that make it ideal for fishing crankbait. The action on the rod and the action on the line are both really important. The crankbait has to be allowed to dance, which it will do automatically as it’s reeled in. But too heavy a line and too rigid a fishing rod can ruin your chances of catching anything on a crankbait. 

The whole idea with crankbaits is that they will reach great depths around the midpoint from where you land them in the water until they return to the tip of your rod. Some anglers put weights on their crankbait to help them suspend in the water during that time. The important thing is to cast out as far as possible to make sure the bait can spend as long as possible crossing levels of the water to attract more fish. That means a fast action rod that can slingshot the bait for additional distance at the peak of a cast. 

There should also be enough strength in the body of the rod to rip the bait through grasses and other things it might get hung up on while you’re reeling in. There are a few ways to test the backbone of a fishing rod, but the easiest way is to put one end on a flat surface and slowly bend the flexible far end. Wherever it starts to bend is what’s called the backbone of the rod. There should be information on the walls and construction of the backbone wherever you look to purchase a rod for crankbaits. 

Overall, crankbaits are tons of fun and can be one of the most effective ways to catch bass there are. Many anglers stick to crankbaits in the spring and summer and simply alternate between different styles. With so many to choose from, learning how to fish crankbaits is a great idea for every angler. Learning to do it right will start with the right tackle, and the rod is a huge part of that. Now that you know what you’re looking for, get out there and find the perfect fishing rod for fishing crankbait and get out on the water!

Bonus tip: Check out some more quick tips for crankbait fishing in this video!

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