How to Use a Crankbait Lure

If you are wondering how to use a crankbait lure and getting perplexed regarding how it will work, then you should sit back and relax, because it is not that difficult to learn. Using a crankbait lure is not a complicated type of fishing equipment, and with some practice, you can have this skill under your belt within no time at all. Of course, you will have to learn the basics before being able to use it, but it is a fast and easy to learn. This article is going to teach you all the nitty-gritty details about crankbait, including the different names for the lure, the best time to use it as well as the best fishing tips that have provided success. But the key theme to remember here is that practice does makes perfect.

Practice is the reason that this article alone may not make you an expert in using a crankbait; you will have to go out to the water and test the knowledge that you have gathered. However, researching the basics will teach you the right tips and tricks to fish a crankbait without much hassle, but to truly acquire the skill, you have to go test it out yourself. All fishing enthusiasts should want to have this skill mastered, and this article will help the ones who are starting out and eager to learn. It will make all their questions regarding crankbait go away, giving them the confidence to face the waters head-on, without doubting themselves. 

What is a Crankbait Fishing Lure? 

Even if you are not equipped to use this equipment properly, you must be aware or have a rough idea about what is a crankbait lure used for. Some may even argue that perhaps this lure is one of the most versatile lures that you can use. It is the go-to lure of many fishing enthusiasts as the crank weight can be used in all seasons without any hassle; it doesn’t matter whether you are casting or trolling. These qualities make the crankbait an absolute favorite and a must have for people who like to fish so that they can make the best use of their fishing expeditions. Crankbaits are brilliant lures for any fish that routinely consume smaller fish as a part of their diet; this would mean that your next fishing trip is going to be brilliant, as you can capture bigger fishes for your meal with the knowledge that you will gather from here. 

Generally, crankbait is defined as any lure that will have a plastic clip that would cause the bait to dive underneath the water. The depth of the water can range from somewhere between just below the surface to even much greater depths; sometimes, the depth is even greater than 20 feet. It is actually a pretty solid hard-bodied lure which can have either of the two; one being a diving lip which will be located somewhere on the underside of the head and the other being a tow point which is the part where you tie the line that you are using on the top of the head, and it will have a swimming action which when retrieved or is trolled maintains a constant speed. 

Buy this definition, and you can understand that crankbaits can be divided into two main broad groups. These are not actual categories but is a method to understand what type of crankbait that you are actually getting. These two are the lipped kind and the lipless. The difference between these two needs is important to understand because they are not only dissimilar in their design but also require different techniques, so the way they should be fished is very different.

The first kind, which is the lipped crankbaits, are easily recognizable as they have a diving lip that is made up of metal or even plastic. This lip is easily visible as it protrudes from underneath the head of the lure. This amazing feature causes the crankbait to dive, and this is what gives it that wiggling action, which is most commonly associated with the use of crankbait. It is also the reason that makes the crankbait gets deflected from objects that the lure may strike when you are fishing. 

The diving lip, which is also known as the bib, bill, or even beak, may vary in its size angle or shape. All of this will depend upon the style of crankbait that you are using this if you chance upon any kind of lure which will have a piece of metal or even plastic peeking out from its lower side than that is a crankbait of some kind without any doubt. This is kind you will find that the lures will be made up of minnows, rip baits, floater divers, wake baits, slash baits, countdowns, broke-backs, jerk baits, etc. 

The second kind mentioned above is the lipless crankbait. The name is self-explanatory, and you can understand that unlike the first one, it will not have a lip. They can also be fairly easily recognized; just spot the location of the time point, which will now be on the top rather than the underside. These crankbaits get their action from the imbalances, which are caused by the body design of the lure as well as its internal weight. The lures of lipless crankbait can have significant variation due to differences in size as well as interior design. You may also hear them by their more common names like rattletraps; rattle baits, or most times simply as traps. 

Different Names for Crankbaits

Just as the variation between crankbaits can be drastic, its name also varies from place to place. Depending on where you are going for your fishing trip, you may hear it be called by its regional name; this can create quite the confusion if you are new to the region. In the USA, you will find that crankbaits are often called plugs, while if you have gone to Europe for a fishing trip, you will hear the name wobblers. Fishing enthusiasts in Australia who use a crankbait call it bibbed lures or minnow lures. These all mean the same thing, so do get confused on your next fishing trip and impress the other newbies with your new handy fishing vocabulary. 

The Different Categories of Crankbaits 

As you have now understood by now, there are different kinds of crankbaits, and to make matters easy art for all, crankbaits have been generally divided into its major categories. The major categories of crankbaits are as follows: 

  • Squarebills and Shallow Divers

The most popular crank weight is the square bill one, and it is a kind of shallow diving crankbait. These kinds of crankbaits, along with its counterparts, are most suitable for shallow cover. The most common as well as an ideal area to throw your shallow crankbait would be placed surrounding rocks, submerged wood, docks, or even shallow grass lines. The thing that you have to remember with shallow-diving crankbaits is that if you want to use them, you would have to fish them by throwing caution to the wind by getting then hung up. 

This may seem absurd to some, especially since this lure will have to travel hooks attached to it, and shallow drivers generally do not hang up most times if they reel them in swiftly. But, you will find that when the lure gets deflected from a hard object, it will often create the path for you to catch the best fish because it is actually caused by a reaction from the fish when the lure changes direction. The lip, as well as the body of the crankbait, will be well equipped to absorb the impact caused by the deflection, and you will notice that the hooks will once in a blue moon penetrate the cover at high speeds. It is so rare that you do need to worry. 

  • Medium Divers

You will find that the medium-diving crankbaits work quite smoothly in water that is as shallow as 10 feet and sometimes in deeper waters as well. If you use such a crankbait in waters that are quite shallow, you will notice a significant improvement in your fishing results as it will dig well into the bottom, creating a disturbance. Just like the shallow diving crankbaits, a deflection is also enough to trigger a strike. You also noticed that a short pause after a deflection would have enough potential to result in a strike. 

  • Deep divers

You would find that a deep crankbait is perfect for fishing on offshore structures, especially ledges, creek channels as well as rock piles. It is often avoided by many as using this crankbait takes quite the effort as much as what has to be done to get these crankbaits to stay deep down. Much like the shallows styles of crankbaits, you have to make sure that the bottom contact is maintained because any deflection or even some difference in the retrieve, even a slight one, has the capacity to trigger a bite. 

How to use The Crankbait in Different Seasons?

As mentioned above, the crankbait is very versatile and works virtually in all seasons. 


During the spring, you will find the 10 most places the water will be warmer, and this will mean that you would have to crank the reel handle faster. Your hands would have to be steady as you do about the stop-and-go retrieve motion; this skill will also come on handy in other seasons as well. You will find that the shallow crankbaits are the best for this season, and this is great as your fishing trips will not go in vain as the big fishes will now start to go to the shallow waters to prepare for the spawning period. You can use a crankbait along with a fast retrieve that will help your crankbait to quickly dive straight into the bottom, imitating the motions of a crawfish trying to scurry away. 


With the blistering heat of the sun during the summer, the water will also find itself getting heated. During this time of the year, you would have to be ready to crank as fast as you can. The summer seasons mean the metabolism of the bigger predatory fish will also rise, and it will also give to the chance to dish much deeper than you normally do in other seasons. You can go for fishing on offshore structures with your deep-diving crankbait during this time, as the chances of capturing bigger fish in summer in such areas significantly rises. 


This is the favorite season of all crankbait users, and once you experience it for yourself, you will agree as well. The reason behind this is that during fall, you will notice that all the baitfish are becoming more active, and this also jolts the predatory to fish to get up and ready to chase them around. If you are going to fish on a mask that has a shad, it is advisable that you use a shad-pattern or a white crankbait in this scenario along with a fast retrieve because this will act as the best lure possible till you can find a good school of fish to catch. 


This is the only season where you would actually find it easier to use the flat-sided crankbait, which is associated with its tight wobble action. You cannot use a crank weight with avoidable in colder temperatures, so your best bet is that a flat-sided crankbait. While in the other seasons, you would have to be fast; during winter, a slow but steady retrieve is what is going to help you out. 

Some tips to help you out to fish using a crankbait lure

Now that you have understood the basics regarding the use of the crankbait, these tips are going to help will out the next time you go fishing with crankbait. These tips will significantly increase your chances and make the trip more successful. Be sure to also check out our other article for the best crankbaits for bass fishing.

You will almost look like a pro with the tips listed below:

  • Plan your trip ahead of time by checking out the place and figuring out the season, especially if you are going to go far away. 

The different times of the year and how crankbait works during that time have been discussed thoroughly. If you are a newbie, then it is a great time to tell you that the time of the year is probably more important than the lure selection. This is one of the fundamental things that you have to keep in mind before you plan your fishing trip. As you have understood by now that you can use crankbait effectively during the months of spring, summer and especially fall. You should try out for yourself except the two to three weeks when the fish are spawning. The clarity of the water will also determine the kind of crankbait you are selecting. In the muddy water, it is better that you go for a wide wobbling round crank weight, which can generate a sufficient amount of vibration, but when it comes to the gin-clear water, is it advisable that switch to the much more tight-wiggling crankbait which has the flat side. 

  • You should not go beyond the basic color schemes. 

There is no need to worry about what color you should select every time you go fishing, as there are some colors that work, no matter where you go quite effectively. The following are some of the color combinations that will work well no matter which river or lake you are going on a fishing expedition on: 

  1. Chartreuse: 

a) Blue and chartreuse

b) Green and back along with chartreuse sides

c) Lime green along with chartreuse sides and lime green stripes

  1. Shad patterns:

a) Blue and pearl

b) Black along with pearl sides

c) Green along with pearl

  1. Crawfish patterns:

a) Brown and back along with brownish-gold sides

b) Brown and bone 

c) Different shades of reds

d) Brown and back along with yellow sides

e) Gray ghostly colored with white sides.

  • The pace is very important while using the crankbait. 

You may find that retrieving a crankbait sounds very simple, but the problem that many newcomers face is that they make the mistake of winding and chunking the crankbait. You can just catch a fish and then throw it out. Then you can wind it back in, but if you want to catch fish, you have to be well aware of what your bait is doing as well as how it was reacting when you caught the fish. You may not get it right the first few times, but you will surely get the hang of it if you keep practicing. Keep in mind that a basic retrieve of the study hand along with a low gear ratio reel will do the job the best, but you should keep in mind that the way you have to retrieve will vary in certain situations. The understanding of what you need to do comes with time, so you do not need to worry about those situations. When you are fishing, you should go for the stop and go presentation so that you can trigger more bites if nothing else is doing the trick. Keep in mind that the main thing to be on the lookout for is figuring out where the fishes are when you are using a crankbait as well as what kind of fish there is in the water. Be aware of even the slightest chance as even if you move your rod a little bit or change the speed of your retrieve or even the winding motion you were making changes can lead to a change in your crankbait, which can trigger a strike. 

  • Maximizing your depth is a very efficient way to increase the potential of the lure. 

Keep in mind that you would have to pick the right line size so that you can get ready to use your crankbait so that it can reach the maximum depth of the water body. You should go for a 10-pound test line for most of your crankbait presentation as it will give you the best path to judge the different depths that you are trying but can cover with ease. You see, that along cost will help you and your crying way to reach the perfect depth zone. The more you use the crankbait, the farther you will cast it as you become more comfortable; you will find that “cranking” it becomes more efficient in its work. 

As it takes some time for the crankbait to dive to the maximum depth of the water body, the longer cast is going to give it the push that it needs. You should also be aware of the fact that the rod lens is going to affect the performance of the crankbait. Be sure to select the right rod length so that the crankbait can cover long distances without much hassle. You can go for a 7-foot fiberglass model. This model will be perfect for using big deep open water, which is the perfect ground to practice. The seven-foot fiberglass model sure has its own cons when compared to a 6-foot rod. The 6 ft rod will be more equipped for study hands who know how to to use smaller lures or are looking for specific targets. A 6.5 ft rod is, therefore, perfect for all situations. 


Crankbaits are one of the most common lures for any species of fish that consumes smaller baitfish as well as crayfish. You can use a crankbait lure next time that you go fishing as it will allow any angler to quickly cover a water body and shall be appealing to the fish that you want to get if they are hungry. It is a great way to tempt those fishes, and with these strategies, you will be able to able to procure the fishes that you want in no time. The best place to try your hand out is the nearest water body, and always remember that practice makes perfect. Go out and test your newfound skills. You will be able to show off your fishing skills to your fishing buddies in no time. Use this lure and see the significant change for yourself today. 

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