Getting your crankbait deep
May 18, 2012 – by Kevin VanDam
The last Elite Series tournament on Douglas Lake opened a lot of anglers’ eyes to the effectiveness of cranking deep.
The top finishers were grinding crankbaits into the 25- to 40-foot depths, and it surprised a lot of people that you can get crankbaits down that far.
The 6XD, a crankbait I helped design for Strike King, was a big player in that. It’s a bait that I’ve used to catch bass in 25 feet of water on a conventional cast and one that has won me a lot of money the past couple of years.
There are a number of tricks you can employ to get any crankbait to reach or exceed its maximum running depth. Here’s some that I’ve used:
This subject has been covered extensively on Bassmaster.com since it was used at Douglas (See “A Deeper Look at Long Lining”). The more line between you and your bait, the longer the bait has to descend and rake the bottom.
Make long casts
By the same token, the longer the cast, the deeper a bait runs. Most companies measure their lures’ running depths based upon conventional casting distances, but baits like the 6XD that are properly weighted and aerodynamically-shaped cast farther.
You can enhance casting and running depth distance by using smaller diameter line. It allows you to put more on a reel, plus the smaller diameter cuts through the wind and water better. Also, fluorocarbon line will get you 18 inches deeper than monofilament of the same size and on a long cast.
And remember to use the wind. When there is wind to my back, I launch my lure high and let the wind carry it farther. I can throw a 6XD at least 75 yards with a good wind.
Kneel and reel
Paul Elias introduced us to this tactic several years ago. By sticking your rod into the water while you crank, the bait dives deeper and stays on the bottom longer.
That’s why a longer rod is so important. By kneeling and putting the end of my 7-10 Quantum KVD cranking rod in the water, I can get the bait another 4-5 feet deeper.
Weight your baits
You can make a crankbait run deeper and even suspend by simply adding larger and heavier hooks. Mustad’s KVD Elite Trebles with heavier gauge wire are good examples.
Another trick is to stick Storm SuspenStrips or Dots to the underside of the crankbait lip. Center them and apply ahead of where the bill attaches to the body and slightly ahead of the hook hanger. You can add as many of these adhesive strips as needed to get the nose of the bait to tip forward and dive steeper.
You also can clip a 1/8-ounce Bass Pro Shops XPS cylindrically-shaped drop shot sinker to split ring of the front hook hanger to create a steeper dive. Test the bait to see how it sits; if it sinks too fast, use side-cutter pliers to trim off excess lead until you get it the way you want it.
Deep cranking is a frontier every angler should explore because it puts you in a zone where bass don’t get a lot of pressure this time of year. And best of all, it’s a great way to catch a big limit of bass!
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!