Cold Cranking, Hot Action

Through the cool months touring pro Wesley Strader virtually always has a crankbait tied on, and often that rod is in his hand.

A crankbait is somewhat situational for FLW Tour pro Wesley Strader. He has to be fishing. Through the cool months, especially, Strader virtually always has a crankbait tied on, and often that rod is in his hand.

“We’re going to catch them right here,” Strader told me on a recent trip to Pickwick Lake. We only had a couple of hours together, and I was debating whether we should stay close to work on photos or run as needed to try to catch fish.

No choice was needed. Strader pulled straight from dock to the nearest riprap with his trolling motor and grabbed a rod rigged with one his handmade flat-sided crankbaits.

Strader lives in Tennessee, which is crankbait-carving country. He learned the craft from his dad, and he has been making crankbaits as long as he can remember. His own flat-side bait, which has an ultra-tight wiggle, is his No. 1 crank by far for cold water.

Pro angler Wesley Strader’s hand-carved crank..

Within five minutes Strader was unhooking his first bass, and he got hits all the way down the riprap bank, often in places where he’d say, “there ought to be one here,” because of a slight point or a shoal he could see on his graph.

Strader eventually switched to a Bandit 200, his other crankbait-of-choice for working banks when the water is cold. They’d been short striking his original bait, and he suspected the slight shift might prompt better strikes. Sure enough, he converted far more of the strikes into landed fish on a return pass along the same bank.

I’m not sure how many bass Strader ended up catching in that short outing, but it was a bunch, and others from our group returned to the dock singing the blues. I enjoyed seeing the simplicity of Strader’s approach and his efficiently working a single stretch of bank.

Of course crankbaits aren’t just winter baits for Strader. Check out the video below in which he shares his late-summer approach to fishing grass.

To read more about my fishing adventures, please visit my blog.

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