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Why Crankbaits are the Best Lure for Fall Largemouth Bass

Our Fishing Editor explains why crankbaits are the best lure for fall bass

Fall is full of tough choices: deer or bass, turkey or trout? As good as the hunting might be right now, the fishing can be just as good—if not better. A truly hardcore sportsman might hit a deer stand in the morning and the local bass lake in the afternoon, and it’d be well worth his effort. A special set of seasonal circumstances means one of the year’s best bass bites is happening right now.

Lakes from New York to Texas are starting to cool off. Bass become more aggressive with the temperature change (so do other species—see “Walleyes of the Fall” on p. 79) and often move into shallower water searching for food. Weedbeds, meanwhile, are dying back, and the baitfish that they sheltered all summer are suddenly more exposed and vulnerable. For savvy anglers who key in on that combination, it’s crankbait time.

’Bait Basics

The way in which bass respond to crankbaits dictates a few basic tackle needs. Some bass will hammer the lure. Others will just nip or bump the bait and become only lightly hooked around the edges of their jaws, meaning the hooks can easily be pulled during a fight. New crankbait rods, which have more flex than normal in the tip and midsections, cushion the battle a bit and solve most hook-pulling problems.

Line choices are simple: 12-pound mono or fluoro on baitcasters and as light as 6-pound on spinning tackle. Go heavier for larger bass or near thick cover. Thinner lines have less water resistance and will help any crankbait run deeper. Stronger lines allow less running depth but will help hold bigger fish away from snags.

You’ll need a trio of crankbaits based on running depth: shallow (running down to about 4 feet), medium (8 to 10 feet), and deep (15 to 18 feet). Most lure makers offer all three types, and you’re better off fishing with a single brand. Why? Because baits like Bandit 100, 200, and 300 series crankbaits behave consistently at different depths. That consistency allows you to learn how to fish these baits faster than if you were working from a tackle box with a mixed bag of crankbaits.

Strikes in Numbers

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are often feeding in small roving packs now, and you’ll have to try a few spots before you find the fish. Lake points are always good bets, as are the backs of reservoir feeder creeks where shad may congregate in October. In either case, cover more water by fishing at different depths. After all, that’s why you have those three crankbaits in the first place.

Somewhere along the newly brown and receding weedlines, there will still be patches of green vegetation that are baitfish magnets. Work the outside edges of that greenery, starting with the shallowest-running bait. Crankbaits have a very distinct vibration that you can sense during the retrieve. When that action feels dull, the lure has probably picked up some weeds. Rip the lure hard with your rod tip once to dislodge the weed, then keep on cranking.

Deliberately bumping structure with your lure is another crucial tactic, which works because most crankbaits have large bills. The bill will hit a rock or stump before the hooks do. When this happens, allow the bait to float upward slightly to clear the obstacle, then start reeling again. That bump-pause-dart routine is one of the best possible ways to trigger strikes from otherwise reluctant bass.

One last thing: I’ve changed my mind from what I said earlier. You should go hunting all day, and skip the bass lake. I’ll miss seeing you on the water, of course. But there will be plenty of bass to occupy my time, and I guess I’ll muddle through somehow.

Comments (12)

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from TanMan89 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Thanks for the information, I'm been a little frustrated with fall bass, I hope this will help!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micheal Jackson wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

yea all this time i keep trying to get a bass and never thought of this hopfully it will help me to dude you give some good advice

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from rclary wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

What color crankbait this time of year and what size?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Then... if the jig and pig fails is a must to use a crankbait?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Or vice versa first the crankie?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jordjohn44 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Crankbaits? No. Stick with the twister tail. They do work.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Foxbrosracing wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Try a frog around cover, bass are saving up for winter, frogs have a lot of nutrience. Only try crank baits in deep water. But, Jordjohn44 is right a twister tail works anywhere.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman3-15 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The Strike King Coffee Tubes work real well when they are shallow. Also try flippin a berkley chigger craw around cover.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kinzuakid13 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Crankbaits are great, but i prefer plastics and live bait. it's good and far less exspensive. still, crankbaits work-i caught a 28' inch walleye because of one!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from delawarebass wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I just posted several new crankbait videos for fall and winter bass fishing. One is by Gregg Hackney and the others by Mark Davis and some pro guides. Good tips and tactics. The videos are free to watch. http://delawaretrophybass.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackdawgz wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

You may not want to believe this, but someone once showed me how to load the boat with largemouth bass. My wife and I waited until conditions were right and caught 40 in one hour and went back home. We caught so many that we got sick of eating them and quit. I could go back there and do it again in the Fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwerner wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Had good luck with a tiger stripe 4-6 ft runner this fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jchark202007 wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

this is very good info and hopefully i can get back into business and try out some new techniques, thanks

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from TanMan89 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Thanks for the information, I'm been a little frustrated with fall bass, I hope this will help!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micheal Jackson wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

yea all this time i keep trying to get a bass and never thought of this hopfully it will help me to dude you give some good advice

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jordjohn44 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Crankbaits? No. Stick with the twister tail. They do work.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Foxbrosracing wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Try a frog around cover, bass are saving up for winter, frogs have a lot of nutrience. Only try crank baits in deep water. But, Jordjohn44 is right a twister tail works anywhere.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from rclary wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

What color crankbait this time of year and what size?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Then... if the jig and pig fails is a must to use a crankbait?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Or vice versa first the crankie?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from delawarebass wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I just posted several new crankbait videos for fall and winter bass fishing. One is by Gregg Hackney and the others by Mark Davis and some pro guides. Good tips and tactics. The videos are free to watch. http://delawaretrophybass.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman3-15 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The Strike King Coffee Tubes work real well when they are shallow. Also try flippin a berkley chigger craw around cover.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kinzuakid13 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Crankbaits are great, but i prefer plastics and live bait. it's good and far less exspensive. still, crankbaits work-i caught a 28' inch walleye because of one!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackdawgz wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

You may not want to believe this, but someone once showed me how to load the boat with largemouth bass. My wife and I waited until conditions were right and caught 40 in one hour and went back home. We caught so many that we got sick of eating them and quit. I could go back there and do it again in the Fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwerner wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Had good luck with a tiger stripe 4-6 ft runner this fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jchark202007 wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

this is very good info and hopefully i can get back into business and try out some new techniques, thanks

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment