Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

First Look: PH Custom Lures P-Wee Crankbait

This hand-crafted balsa wood crankbait is a big-time producer when you’re targeting shallow bass.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I’m a proud crankbait nerd. I’m extremely particular about them and I spend an inordinate amount of time fishing and testing them. It’s my favorite way to catch a bass—by a long shot. 

The PH Custom Lures P-Wee is certainly one of the more special crankbaits I’ve run across this year. This plug is a fast-wiggling, shallow-water killer that has produced a lot of nice bass for me thus far. If you’re a crankbait guru like me, it’s worth your attention.

Below are my thoughts on it. 

The rundown

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

The PH Custom Lures P-Wee is hand-made from premium balsa wood and features a circuit board lip, stainless steel components and a surprisingly durable paint job. It’s specifically designed for targeting shallow-water bass keying on small forage. 

You’ll also notice a small weight on the underside of the lip which drastically increases its castability. These flat-sided balsa plugs can be a hassle to cast at times, but this small feature makes a noticeable difference. Its plenty heavy to rig on a 7-foot, medium-action casting rod. 

The price point isn’t in everyone’s ballpark and that’s totally understandable. Each of these crankbaits, however, is hand-tuned before leaving the shop and the attention to detail is quite impressive. The expert craftsmanship, in my opinion, helps justify the higher price. 

My experience

It has been a challenge for me to find a shallow-running, flat-sided balsa crankbait. I’ve used countless garage-made plugs and I’ve always encountered one problem—most of them run in that 6 to 7-foot range. I fish a lot of shallow, river-type areas and that’s simply too deep for my fishing style. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

The P-Wee runs up to 4 feet deep on a long cast and fast retrieve. It only measures 2 1/8 inches, so it’s a small profile designed for targeting finicky bass. I’ve been in several situations when the bass wouldn’t touch a larger crankbait and after switching to this plug, I caught a bunch in the exact same spot. Size is a very overlooked crankbait element and I’m glad this company took notice. 

This crankbait’s action is very tight. It’s not going to vibrate your forearm throughout the retrieve, which is one of the reasons it can be so effective in clear water. Its tight shimmy and subtle side-to-side hunting action gets a lot of extra bites throughout the day. The bass I’ve been catching on this plug have been choking it by the front hook. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

I have not had to tune this crankbait—and that is rare for me. I am hugely picky about how a crankbait tracks and even after some collisions with hard wood or rock cover, it continues to track true. 

I’m pleased with its durability, especially for a balsa crankbait. Before you spend the money on this plug, it’s important to understand that you can’t treat it like you would a mass-produced plastic lure. If you repeatedly slap it on the water to remove trash, it will eventually crack as is the case with any balsa lure you’ll use. 

Regardless, the hook hangers have remained securely fastened into the body—another common issue with balsa crankbaits—and the additional clear coat does a fantastic job at reducing cracking, splitting and swelling. 

Photo by Walker Smith/Wired2Fish

The P-Wee has quickly turned into one of my “Oh, crap” lures. When I can’t get bit, it seems like I can usually pick it up and catch a few keepers on a tough day of fishing. 

There aren’t a whole bunch of colors to choose from, but the available patterns should cover your bases without any issues. They have all the essentials—crawfish, shad and chartreuse. Those colors make up probably 95-percent of my crankbait collection. 

Final impressions

If you’re willing to shell out some extra coin for a handmade crankbait, this would be a solid purchase. I really like this plug and will be throwing it—a bunch—this year. 

The PH Custom Lures P-Wee Crankbait is available at TackleWarehouse.com


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