It’s starting to cool off in parts of the country. Here in Kentucky we had our coolest weekend since April. This time of year gets my blood pumping again because I love to catch bass on a shallow crankbait. When you just run the banks fishing fast and not over-thinking how smart a bass really is. A shallow crankbait is an often overlooked and deadly tool in the arsenal in the fall.
This list may have to be recompiled next year. That’s because at this year’s ICAST show in Las Vegas, it seemed like every manufacturer had a new shallow crankbait coming out in 2011. That’s good because now I have an excuse to buy a bunch of new shallow crankbaits. But for now, I thought I put up my personal five favorites for shallow cranking.
This is just for cranking in water 5 feet deep or less. Of course we all have varying opinions when it comes to our fishing tackle, but these are five baits I’ve had a lot of success with over the years that I never leave home without.
Lucky Craft RC 2.5
One of the first crankbaits I reach for, the Lucky Craft RC 2.5 casts like a rock, is easily fished through cover and is available in a plethora of colors. I have yet to take one out of the package that didn’t run perfectly straight on the first cast. The 2.5 is a big-bodied bait that seems to really tempt the bass with its wide but quiet kick. My favorite is the Tomato Shad color.
Bomber Flat A
This bait has a wide wobble and loud rattle that wakes the bass up around cover. Even with its big wobble, it seems to crawl over limbs well. Its lip is a unique shape and very durable. It’s a great bait on rip rap, rocky points and gravel flats. It’s a workhorse bait and even though it has a small profile, it really seems to catch large bass. One knock on the bait is that its hooks are cheap and need to be replaced out of the package. But it’s also why this is an affordable option. I really like the red craw color on this bait.
Rapala DT Fat SS03
The DT series is a staple in our tackle boxes. And the Fat found its way into my arsenal last year. When I’m fishing flats in a little clearer water or around grass, this crankbait gets the nod. It’s got a good wide wobble and is pretty easy to cast for a balsa bait. It will only go 3 feet though, and we actually wish it would go to 5 feet for a little more flexibility. But for quiet wobbling baits, this is a great choice. And when you want a bait to just skim over the top of shallow cover or non-emergent grass, this is a good choice. Hot Mustard is my favorite in this bait.
Spro Little John
The Spro Little John looks very small, but it’s a real fish catcher in shallow water. One great thing is it’s one of the smallest crankbaits we’ve found that casts this well. The internal weight transfer system really gives the bait the distance you need to make it effective. It’s great around rock and wood alike. It’s got a real low one knocker thump when it swims, which gives me another unique alternative when I’m searching shallow. The bait is available in several good colors. Rootbeer Chartreuse is my favorite.
Zoom owner Ed Chambers has a real passion for crankbaits and for some reason that gives me an added confidence with his crankbaits. I debated some here because I've been throwing a new crankbait of his called the Willie or the Big EZ that I also love. But the E2 is probably best known for what Kevin Short has been able to do with it on the Bassmaster Elite Series, but us regular folk can catch some nice bass on it too. The bait is a wide body but short length. It casts really well for a balsa bait and features a wider wobble than most. The beautiful hand painted finishes really seal the deal. Our favorite patterns are Bull Bream and Classic Chartreuse.
With these five crankbaits I can cover all the bases in shallow water – flats, around grass, rip rap, laydowns, rocky points and even schooling fish. I mainly stick with shad patterns or slight yellow variations depending on water clarity but listed some of my favorites just in case anglers are unfamiliar with the baits. We’d love to hear your favorites for shallow cranks. It’s really a fun way to catch bass but the windows seem to be small for the bite where we live.
But when we do find them, it can be lights out.