What are the best crankbaits for bass?
Wow! What a question! There are so many different crankbaits on the market today, how could we possibly narrow it down to just a few?
Take, for example, the square bill crankbait, could you narrow it down to your top 5 favorite squarebills? There are hundreds if not thousands of different lures that fall under this category. To pick just 5 or even 10 would be difficult (believe me I’ve tried).
Now, let’s think about the broader question: what are the best crankbaits for bass? That question is even more difficult to answer, but I like challenges, so in this post, I am going to try to answer that question.
To make it easier, I have broken it down into 3 categories. I have picked a few from each category that I would consider to be my favorite and possibly the best (by no means is this list exhaustive).
I hope you enjoy!
What are the best bass crankbaits?
Here is a quick preview of my favorite crankbaits for bass
- Rapala Clackin’ Rap
- Strike King Redeye Shad
- Megabass S-CRANK 2.0
- Spro Fat John 60
- Storm Arashi Rattling SquareBill
- LiveTarget CrawDad Deep Diver
- Strike King Pro-Model 8XD
Before we take a closer look at each of these categories individually, let’s talk about the different types of crankbaits. There are 3 different categories of crankbaits: lipless, square bill and deep diving.
Each type is designed a little differently to give it a unique presentation in the water. Fish it correctly in the situation for which it was designed for and you will catch yourself some big largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Lipless Crankbaits. Most lipless crankbaits have a diamond-shaped body with flat sides. This unique body design helps to give the lure a tight wobble that drives bass wild. To enhance the presentation, some have what is called a noise chamber.
This noise chamber can hold a single knocker or a number of bb’s that make a rattling noise as it is brought through the water. This rattle and the vibration of the tight wobble helps the fish the locate the lure and to strike it. If you would like to fish this lure in a more subtle approach lipless crankbaits are also available in a silent version.
Some of the best features of the lipless crankbait are that it can be fished in a variety of different situations. Most of these lures will cast a mile which will allow you to cover a lot of water rather quickly.
The majority of these baits will also sink allowing you to fish at different depths. I say most because there is actually a floating lipless crankbait that can be fished very similar to a topwater presentation.
They also make a lot of noise which makes them great baits to use in stained or dirty water. But where these baits excel is in the grass. Throw a lipless crankbait up into the grass and when you feel it get snagged, give it a quick tug.
This will hopefully release the bait in an erratic motion and generate a reaction strike from nearby bass.
You may also enjoy reading: A Look At The Best Lipless Crankbaits For Bass
Now that we understand this category a little better, let’s take a look at some of our favorite lipless cranks for bass.
There is no way we can have a post talking about the top bass cranks without mentioning the original lipless crankbait, the Rat-L-Trap. Probably one of the first flat sided crankbaits to hit the market so many decades ago and yet it still continues to produce fish.
This lure is available in a number of different colors and sizes, helping you to match the hatch and catch more fish. It is also available in a floating version that can give your lure a unique look ( such as this Rat-L-Trap Lures Floating Trap).
What makes this lure so unique is its unique rattle that can draw largemouth in from a mile. So pick yourself up a Ratt-L-Trap throw it out into those weedlines and start bringing in fish.
You may also enjoy reading: How To Fish A Rat-L-Trap
If you are looking for a lure that the fish haven’t seen or heard, you need to try out the next bait on our list, it is the Rapala Clackin’ Rap.
As you can see from the picture, this bait has what looks like a silver disc on the side of the body. This silver disc is actually a cylinder that goes from one side of the bait to the other. Inside this cylinder is a single ball bearing that rocks back and forth as it is brought through the water to give it a very unique sound.
Another great feature of this lure is the beautiful finish designed to grab the fish’s attention. I particularly like this design because the holographic foil is underneath the plastic coating which helps to make it durable and last much longer than the standard lure.
Strike King Redeye Shad
Lastly, we are going to conclude this category of baits with probably one of the most popular bass crankbaits, the Strike King Redeye Shad.
One thing that makes lipless crankbaits so effective is because of that deadly tight wobble, particularly in the fall.
One of my favorite ways to fish this kind of lure is to let the lure fall to the bottom, give the lure a quick jerk and then let it fall again. This technique can prove to be deadly when out on the water, but you need a lure that is going to give that tight wobble on the fall that will entice a reaction strike.
In my opinion, no other bait produces such an effective wobble than the Strike King Redeye Shad and this is probably one of the reasons it has become so popular amongst bass anglers.
It is available in a number of different colors and sizes so that you can choose the best one for the fishing any given situation.
Learn more about this lure in the following video:
Squarebill Crankbaits. These lures are also known as shallow running crankbaits. As you can see from the picture, this crankbait has a downward nose body design.
As it comes through the water this body design helps to give it a wide erratic action. Also, as the name implies it has a square bill or a square lip. This square-shaped lip helps it to deflect or bounce off of the cover. When a squarebill comes through the water and bounces off the structure, bass (especially smallmouth) can’t resist but strike.
A few tips to keep in mind when fishing this lure. There are two things that really make this lure effective: the wide erratic wobble and the lip.
So, because it works so well when deflecting off cover, make sure you are throwing this lure up into those shallow areas where they will have many opportunities to bump into things. Remember, if this lure isn’t deflecting off the bottom or around the structure, you aren’t fishing it correctly.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while most of these baits fall under the shallow running crankbaits category, they might not all go to the same depth. So make sure to read the package to see what depth it is designed to fish in and fish it accordingly.
Lastly, this is a reaction bait. Which means that sometimes you may have to cast it into the same area several times before generating a strike.
Sometimes it might seem like you are tossing it around structure, but you aren’t getting any bites. Don’t give up, throw it into cover a few times before moving on, even if it is in the same location.
Sometimes what happens is, it might take the bass a few looks before he commits.
Let’s take a look at 3 of our favorites in this category.
One of my favorite square bill crankbaits is the Megabass S-CRANK 2.0.
Let me start talking about this bait by asking you a question. Have you ever seen a group of baitfish swimming away from a predator? What do they do? Do they swim straight? No, they dart all over the place to avoid capture. Oftentimes they will swim to the left and then back to the right, trying to lose their follower.
That is the exact motion that this lure was designed to imitate. As you can see from the body design, it doesn’t have that standard downward nose design mentioned earlier, but rather it has a very narrow nose and a small dimple in the head.
This genius design helps to give the bait a back and forth hunting motion much like a fleeing baitfish. It darts back and forth in the shape of an “S’ hence the name S-Crank.
To see this lure in action, check out the following video:
Spro Fat John 60
When fishing a shallow fishing crankbait it is all about that wobble. For some reason, largemouth can’t resist the wobble of a squarebill. In fact, if your lure doesn’t wobble, I can almost promise you that you are losing out on a bunch of fish.
With that in mind, let me tell you that no squarebill wobbles like the Spro Fat John 60.
As you can see from the picture and as the name of this lure implies, it is fat or well-rounded. This rounded body design helps to give it a more aggressive wobble. It also has a rounded fiberglass lip. The fiberglass tends to be a little more durable than the plastic ones.
When fishing with this bait or other shallow fishing crankbaits and you would like to get even more wobble out of your bait, one thing you can do is to downsize your fishing line.
By fishing with a lighter line such as 12-pound test it will give it more action. This works especially well when fishing for more aggressive bass.
Storm Arashi Rattling SquareBill
One of the biggest debates that many anglers have when searching for the best squarebill is whether to go with one that rattles or to choose a silent one.
We are going to leave that debate for another day, but we will say that the Storm Arashi Rattling SquareBill will catch you fish.
Unlike the other shallow running crankbaits in this list, this is a rattling squarebill. The loud rattling chamber will work great when trying to entice those fish in muddy water to commit. Y
ou can also imagine the reaction this lure will get as it bumps into structure. Not only will it change in direction, but the sound will change. Many times this is what helps the bass to commit.
Another great feature is the self-tuning line tie to ensure that it runs true on every single cast.
Let’s take a closer look at this lure in the following video:
Which one of these shallow runners do you think is the best crankbait for bass? Let us know in the comment section below.
Deep Diving Crankbaits. When largemouth are holding up in deep water, you better be throwing a deep-diving crankbait. As you can see in the picture, these baits have a long bill. When being retrieved this bill helps the lure to dive. Some lures can get down to depths of upwards of 20 feet.
One great way to fish this lures is using them in a depth that is less than their maximum range. For example, if the lure is rated for 18 feet, fish it in 15 feet of water.
This will cause the lure to hit the bottom more often and be able to be fished much like you would a square bill crankbait. Keep in mind, the more you bump into the bottom or structure the better. A must-have when fishing low light conditions such as muddy water and night time fishing.
Another quick tip is always if possible make long casts. Remember, deep-diving crankbaits need time to get down to their maximum depth. Making long cast will always for these lures to get down deep and spend more time in the strike zone.
Speaking of sinking, using fluorocarbon fishing line which tends to sink better than monofilament or braid can help you to get the maximum out of your lure.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best deep diving crankbaits for bass.
One of the best deep diving crankbaits for largemouth is the LiveTarget CrawDad Deep Diver. As you can see, one of the best features to this lure as well as most of livetarget’s lures is the sweet finish. It looks just like a crawfish, and we know how much bass like munching on these little critters.
One of my favorite ways to fish it is to throw it in areas just under the maximum depth, tie it on with some fluorocarbon fishing line so that it gets down deep quick, then I like to bump and craw it across the bottom.
It will look just like a crawfish and bass will eat it up like one too.
Strike King Pro-Model 8XD Crankbait
When things start to warm up, fish go deep. We need something to dive down there and get ’em. That is exactly what the Strike King Pro-Model 8XD Crankbait has to offer.
As you can see, it is equipped with a long lip allowing it to get down fast. When fished properly it can get down to depths close to 20 feet. Couple that with a nice tight wobble and you will have yourself a deep diving bass catching machine.
While this bait is available in different sizes such as the popular Strike King S6XD and the large Strike King 10XD Extra Deep Dive Rattle (runs 25 feet), we prefer to use the Strike King 8XD Crankbait.
That being said, if you are looking for that one trophy fish, I would recommend tying on the 10xd and fish it until you land yourself a toad.
In fact, the 10xd is a great lure to fish at night. To learn more about why I love fishing this lure at night be sure to check out a previous post entitled: The Best Lures For Bass Fishing At Night.
Let’s take a look at this lure in action in the following video:
You Might Also Enjoy Reading: An Upclose Look At The Best Bass Lures – Let’s Tackle This
What is the best color crankbait for bass?
Now that we have the right bait picked out, it is important to choose the right color for the given situation.
Additional Reading: Do Largemouth Bass See In Color?
Let’s briefly talk about some of my favorite colors to throw when cranking and in what situations to throw them.
My favorite colors for cranking are:
- Chartreuse Shad
- Fire Tiger
Shad. Bass always eat shad. So, if you see some shad swimming around in the lake you are fishing, you better have this color in the boat. This color tends to produce well in clear water conditions where the fish will have a better opportunity to see the lure.
Chartreuse Shad. Most crankbaits are available in a natural shad color and a chartreuse shad color. This is because natural colors don’t perform the best in muddy waters. For that reason, the chartreuse color was made. Throw this color in stained or muddy water and you are almost guaranteed a bite.
Bluegill. Just like shad, bass love feeding on bluegill. Once again, if there are a lot of bluegill in the body of water that you are fishing, you best be throwing this color. Like the shad pattern, the bluegill works best in clear water. In addition, late spring and early summer (just after the spawn) are great times to throw a bluegill color crank.
Crappie. Don’t forget about crappie! Crappie are also a tasty treat for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. For that reason, when there is an abundant amount of crappie in the water, be sure to throw a pattern that best matches their colors.
Fire-Tiger. The fire tiger pattern is a must-have when fishing at night or in low light conditions. Yes, bass will rely mainly on their lateral lines in these situations, but you can also have much success by throwing a brightly colored crankbait.
The reason this is so effective is that when just a glimpse of light hits that fire tiger pattern bass just see a flash. Couple that with the erratic motion that these baits are designed to give off and it perfectly imitates a startled baitfish.
Craw. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass love to munch on crawfish and when they see a crankbait wobbling along on the bottom in that red pattern they won’t hesitate to strike. Craw colors work best in the spring and just before and after a full moon.
How can you tell how deep a crankbait will dive?
An easy way to tell how deep a crankbait will dive is by looking at the bill. The longer/bigger the bill the deeper it will dive.
For example, the 10xd mentioned earlier has a very large bill and just by looking at it we can expect it to dive pretty deep. And it does, it is rated to dive 25 feet to be exact.
If you are still not sure about the dept, just consult the package. Most packages will give you a rated depth.
Are crankbaits supposed to float?
No, most crankbaits are not designed to float. They are made with the intent of getting down to where the fish are holding up.
However, with that being said, some companies have produced a floating crankbaits designed to be fished like a topwater bait. One such example is the Rat-L-Trap Floating Trap mentioned earlier.
So…What are the best bass crankbaits? Well, in this post we talked about 8 of our favorites, but in reality, we have barely scratched the surface of some of the best lures out there.
Personally, if I had to narrow it down to just three of the aforementioned lures, I probably would pick up a Strike King Redeye Shad, a Megabass S-CRANK 2.0 and you can’t go wrong with the classic Rat-L-Trap.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these baits will catch you fish, these just happen to be my confidence baits.
We always like trying out new lures. So, please share with us what you think are the best crankbaits for bass in the comments below.