Squarebills Beat Tough Times

When John Crews needs a fish, he turns to his squarebill namesake.

On the water last fall, Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews pulled out a bait that he claimed literally hundreds of “big tournament bass” had “beat up” and “broken in” for him. He had special admiration for one Spro Fat John in “Nasty Shad” pattern, his favorite color in the line.

“It’s one of a dozen or so of these baits that has caught so many fish that I put it in a special compartment,” he said reverently. “That’s the true mark of a Go-To bait!”

Crews has been a squarebill crankbait fan since the craze began. Still, for years he found himself gravitating to a half dozen different models, admiring certain traits of each but never quite convinced any one of them had exactly what he thought he needed to be all a squarebill could be.

So he did what most bass anglers dream of doing but few do. He designed his own.

“The Spro Fat John is one of my Go-To Baits,” he says today. “When I have the right conditions, such as stained water, shallow water cover—even if it is sparse—it’s a lure I can count on to produce.”

Crews recited the litany of requirements as he set out to design the bait:

  • Mid-size at 60 mm long…neither too small nor overly large.

  • A fiberglass computer chip-type bill that is denser than the bait’s body and communicates the type of bottom content or cover it encounters.
  • Durable enough to bang off docks and bridge-pilings without destroying bill or bait.
  • An “alive” action that not only delivers good thump and vibration but an erratic “hunting” movement that mimics the slightly random activity of a fleeing baitfish.


Find more how-to videos on Mike Pehanich’s Small Waters Fishing.


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