When postspawn bass are feeding in the shallows and every other angler on the lake is tossing traditional thin-water lures such as spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, tie on a shallow-running crankbait and work it close to the surface. Such “skim-cranking” creates a lot of commotion and gives the bass a different look at this time of year–and can provoke explosive strikes.
Excellent baits for this purpose include Mann’s 1-Minus, Mid 1-Minus, Baby 4-Minus, and Tiny 1-Minus; as well as Bandit’s Foot-Loose, Bomber’s Shallow A, Storm’s Sub Wart, and Lucky Craft’s Moonsault CB-001. All swim with an exaggerated wobble within a foot of the surface. Choose bright colors, like chartreuse or pearl, which make it easier to watch for strikes. And match them with 12- to 20-pound-test because you’ll be casting into abrasive cover.
To skim a crankbait, make a long cast to your target. Then hold the rod tip high as you maintain a steady retrieve that keeps the lure running shallow, sending a turbulent wake across the surface. This method covers a lot of water quickly and works especially well when you’re searching for bass or when you see fish following behind the bait. If the bass seem at all finicky, though, mix in a stop-and-go retrieve or twitching action to coax them out of the cover.
With either retrieve, the skim-cranking technique can yield hard strikes from bass in any type of shallow cover, including stumps, windfalls, flooded bushes, and chunk-rock banks with scattered boulders. It also works well parallel to the edges of boat docks or along the edges of surface vegetation such as lily pads, bulrushes, and matted grass.
That said, skimmed crankbaits are often at their very best when retrieved over vegetation that grows to within inches of the surface. Here, they’ll suck bass out of the grass like vacuum cleaners. Just be sure to raise and lower your rod tip as needed to adjust the depth of the crankbait and keep it ticking the tops of the vegetation.
Finally, be bold. These baits bump over most objects without snagging. So cast right into the cover–and hold on tight.