Crankbaits and crankin’ an Illinois angler’s best friend in spring

I have boxes and boxes of crankbaits sitting at the ready that are just dying to get wet. Why crankbaits you might ask?

Well these are probably the most versatile bait that an angler can have.

They are commonly associated with bass fishing, but I have yet to find a species of fish that you can’t catch on a crankbait. Simple in design, yet effective in presentation these baits come in many shapes and sizes and it pays to have a good selection of these baitfish imitators.

Crankbaits can be put into three different categories. The lipped short body, the lipped long body, and the lipless are the varieties that are the easiest to define. They all serve their purpose, but still all fit into the crankbait category.

In the spring you will always find a lipless crankbait tied onto a couple rods in the boat while I am chasing bass as they move from their wintering holes to the spawning bays. These baits allow me to cover water quickly and to search all levels of the water column to see where these fish might be most active.

Using a lipless bait you can work the entire water column and even induce reaction strikes as this noisy bait passes right by a lethargic bass. The lipless baits typically sink and will run at the depths that you allow them to. You can even vary your retrieves on them to include a fast, slow or even yo-yo type retrieve.

For walleyes and trout, switch over to a longer profile crankbait that has a bit of a different wobble to it. These tend to have a slow motion style movement and tend to fish a bit differently than their shorter counterparts.

Although you can cast these baits on many occasions you will mostly find them being trolled behind planer boards when attached to my rods. Their body shape and weights don’t allow them to be casted as well as other baits and trolling better suits them.

Last but not least are my favorite crankbaits to fish. These would be your common short bodied lipped baits. These would be your stereotypical crankbaits. They have lips that vary in size to change the depths that they will dive.

Some of my favorites have to be the SPRO Fat Pappa crankbait. Having a medium sized lip allows the bait to dive between 8 and 12feet down. The main objective is to cover a lot of water to optimize your time while trying to locate fish.

The short bodied baits are typically reserved to my bass fishing and they have put fish after fish in the boat when other baits are not even getting a second look. They elicit a reaction strike as well as a feeding reaction.

I am, by no means, telling anyone what they should or should not use when fishing, but you would be doing yourself a dis-service if you do not have at least a couple different crankbaits in your bag of tricks. Being versatile, the bait allows the angler to adapt to the conditions and still be able to catch fish.

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