Making Effective Use of Crankbaits

Upstate Outdoors
February 08, 2019 - 6:30 pm

Phillip Gentry

Regardless of whether you are fishing a major impoundment or a private farm pond, few could argue that crankbaits are one of the best bass catchingest baits you could tie on your line, especially during warming weather when a bass’ metabolism is picking up and they are actively chasing forage fish. Although it’s often referred to as chunking and winding, there’s more to fishing a crankbait than the name implies.

In order to get the most from whatever crankbait you are fishing, it’s important to understand what the bait was designed to do. Top of the list of criteria is depth. Most manufacturers will list the rated depth the bait will dive to. Speed of retrieve is next. Some baits were born to burn while others work best doing nothing at all. A crankbait’s action, call it wiggle if you like, is also important. The bait may be designed to have a slow wide wiggle or a tight, fast wiggle.

While all of these facets are built-in by the manufacturer, here’s a few suggestions on how to get more from the crankbait based on your actions at the other end of the rod:

Stop & Go – This retrieve can be either fast or slow and is designed to elicit reactionary strikes from bass. A stop & go may be better achieved using the rod in a pumping action versus  using the reel to wind and stop. Bass typically hit during the pause, which can vary in length from a split second to several seconds.

Bump & Run – A bump & run is achieved by shallow diving baits in shallow water or by deep diving or sinking baits in deeper water. While retrieving the bait over some kind of cover – stumps, logs, timber, or rocks,  bump the bait into the cover then pause the retrieve. This mimics injured or disoriented prey and creates a lot of strikes.

Deflection – Deflection is a similar retrieve to the bump and run. Instead of hitting structure, the bait makes a sudden change in the retrieval path. This can be accomplished by reeling the bait hard to your right with the rod tip pointed perpendicular to your body, then pause, swap the rod to the other side, and reel hard to that side. An up or down deflection can be created by letting a sinking bait drop on a slow retrieve, then lift the rod tip and crank the bait to make it rise. A floating crankbait on a slow retrieve will rise, then dip when the speed is increased while raising or lowering the rod tip.

Barn Burner – This “grip it and rip it” retrieve can work when bass are lethargic or in a negative mood. The idea is to not give the fish a chance to eyeball the lure. The retrieve is so fast it triggers a reactionary strike. A great and sometimes better alternative to the barn burner is to burn the lure at top speed, then pause in the middle of the retrieve, allowing the bass to freight train the lure. 


Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at This week, the show will be broadcast live from Cabela’s in Greenville for the Crappie Madness event.


 Photo Caption – Bass can’t resist crankbaits when they are fished correctly. Photo by Phillip Gentry  

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