By Tom Redington
Deep diving crankbaits are a mainstay for catching summer bass. These popular lures not only catch bass, but they often can trigger an entire school into feeding. Recent advancements in fishing tackle now make it possible to get baits even deeper, into places where bass have never seen a crankbait before. In deep summertime spots where bass had only seen jigs and worms before, a few extra feet of depth with deep cranks allows you to show the bass something new. Following is my system to max out my deep runners.
Rod: This is basic geometry. The farther you cast a diving crankbait, the deeper it will run. Furthermore, basic physics dictates that longer rods cast farther than shorter rods. Accordingly, I start with an 8’ Dobyns 805CB RM cranking stick. Specifically designed for throwing deep diving cranks, this rod has enough tip to load and release like a slingshot on casts, yet it retains enough power to fight big fish at the end of 50 to 60 yard casts. Furthermore, it is a very sensitive rod that helps me decipher whether I’m bumping into clay, silt, rock, shells, grass, or wood. With so many faint bites, feeling the constant wiggle of my crankbait and setting the hook on any changes in the cadence is another key reason to use a sensitive rod like the Dobyns 805.
Reel: Regarding the reel, backlashes are killer on full throttle casts that deep divers require. Get a very smooth reel with a reliable braking system. I’ve even gone to a reel with a digital braking system that covers for my mistakes, especially when casting into the wind. Here’s another tip. Fill your spool with line nearly all the way to the top to get max distance on your cast.
Line: Another category where physics dictates my decision. Drag from the air robs casting distance and drag in the water reduces diving depth. Therefore, I go with the smallest diameter line I can get away with. In addition, the denser fluorocarbon lines help get your bait slightly deeper than mono lines that float. While 100% fluorocarbon retrieves a crankbait well and gets it deep, the stiff coils due to its inherent memory considerably reduces casting distance. With the sinking characteristics of fluoro and the long casting properties of mono, FluoroHybrid line is the perfect choice for deep cranking. At Fork, with the monster bass and lots of timber, I go with 12 lb FluoroHybrid Pro. In more open water lakes, I’ll drop to 8 or 10 lb FluoroHybrid to get even deeper.
Lure: New technology and designs allow us to cast farther and make baits dive harder. Take the deep diving lineup from Lucky Craft for example. The Flat CB D20 has long been deadly on Lake Fork. Case in point, Kelly Jordon used it as his primary weapon to help his team catch 228 lbs over 3 days and win $250k the 2008 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork. Its internal tungsten weight transfer system sends weight to the back of the lure during casts to keep it from rolling, allowing longer casts and fewer backlashes. During the retrieve, the weight moves forward to steepen the dive angle, keeping the lure in the strike zone longer. Furthermore, the low thudding of the tungsten calls in active fish and triggers them to bite.
When bass are less aggressive, the all new Lucky Craft RC 3.5XD still runs to 20’, yet it is much more subtle. While the D20 produces a rattle and its wobble produces a lot of flash, the 3.5XD has a tighter wiggle and no rattles. For pressured fish, the quieter and less glitzy presentation often triggers fish that won’t chase more aggressive presentations. Moreover, the 3.5XD’s tungsten weighted bill forces a steep dive, carrying it quickly to the depths where summer bass live. As an added benefit, the tighter action of the 3.5XD also makes retrieving it a whole lot easier on your arms than the extremely hard pull of most deep diving crankbaits.
Combining the Flat CB D20 and RC 3.5XD makes a great 1-2 combo. First, use the louder and flashier D20 to excite the school and to trigger the most active fish. Once the bite slows, switch over to the more finesse 3.5XD and you’ll often be able to pick up several additional fish after they stop chasing conventional offerings.
Retrieve: Crankbaits swing like a pendulum and surface tension from the water reduces diving depth. By holding your rod nearly straight down and keeping most of the line below the surface, you’ll therefore achieve maximum depth. In addition, a moderate retrieve speed results in the maximum diving depth, although sometimes a super-fast or ultra-slow retrieve is required to trigger fish into biting.
Give this system a try a try and you’ll be able to reach new depths with your deep diving cranks. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 or e-mail me through my website www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com,.
Tom Redington is a full time bass guide on Lake Fork & a FLW Tour pro. He is sponsored by Lake Fork Trophy Lures, Dobyns Rods, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Diamond Sports Marine, Lucky Craft, Costa Sunglasses, & Minn Kota.