How to Tune a Crankbait

Keep your lure running true—and catching more bass

A crankbait, pliers, and knife on a wooden table.
You'll need a pocketknife and needle-nose pliers to tune your favorite crankbait.Dave Hurteau

The effectiveness of a crankbait depends primarily on how straight and deep it runs during a retrieve. Because anglers often bounce crankbaits off rocks, logs, or other bottom cover, these lures frequently get out of tune, which means they'll begin running to one side, rolling over, vibrating improperly, or simply staying too shallow. Some lures even need to be tuned right out of the box. Follow this three-step process for getting that crankbait into fish-catching shape.

Step 1: Clean the hooks and holders.

With a pocketknife, scrape the paint away from each hook holder (and the hook if it's a particularly sloppy paint job). This ensures that the trebles will swing freely from side to side, which allows maximum vibration of the lure and will help prevent it from rolling to one side.

Step 2: Swap out the split ring.

An oval split ring on a white background.
An oval split ring keeps your knot from sliding, which can otherwise wreck the action of your lure.Bass Pro Shops

Replace the round split ring on the line-tie eye with an oval one. Available in tackle shops, oval rings prevent your line from sliding into the split, which can keep a crankbait from diving properly. Some pros (and manufacturers) also use oval split rings to attach the treble hooks, ensuring complete freedom of movement.

Step 3: Rotate the line tie, carefully.

Cast your crankbait out a ways and bring it back. It the lure runs to one side, say to the right, reel it up and hold it with the bill facing toward you. Now, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to gently rotate the line-tie eye clockwise, so that the bottom of it (the edge facing you) moves slightly to the left. (Do the opposite if the lure is running to the left.) Don’t bend the eye; rotate it—and only a very little bit. Make a short cast and retrieve quickly to see if you’ve corrected the problem. Repeat, if necessary, until the lure runs straight and true. Then use your perfectly tuned crankbait to catch some summer lunkers.


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