It’s hard to beat a flat-sided crankbait sometimes. They offer a different look, vibration, and action. Sometimes they are just the ticket you need to extract a few more bites. The tackle market is chock full of different variations, but for some reason they just don’t get quite the attention as their fatter, wider wobbling counterparts.
Even within the category, there are so many variations. Flat-sided cranks range from wooden garage shop creations to computer designed imports with advanced weighting systems… some with rattles and others without… some with round bills, others with more squared off or coffin bills. Some will cost you about as much as a “Happy Meal” and others will run you more in the ballpark of a low budget date on Friday night.
They each have their different strengths, so there is a place for many different flat-sided crankbaits in your tacklebox.
Why They Work
They work because like any other crankbait, they mimic forage and bass like to eat forage! Duh! Well, that’s one reason.
The other reason they work is because they don’t have as much “ba-donka-donk” to flaunt. This offers a different look and vibration in the water. It’s a little more appealing when the bass’ preferences become a little more discriminating.
Seriously, when was the last time you saw a shad wildly swimming side to side like a NASCAR driver warming up his tires before the race? When fish are in the right mood, a wide, exaggerated wobble is killer, but if they’re not, you need to tone down and tighten your badonkadonk. A flat-sided crankbait is the ticket.
Bass fishermen have a tendency to over-compartmentalize things. We like to place limits on things because it helps us feel like we have a system… one full of hard and fast “rules” that can be rationalized in our head. If we can quickly write off or disqualify certain approaches, it helps us automatically narrow down our options.
While this can prove beneficial, it can also hold you back if taken too far. I think it’s often taken too far when it comes to how we view flat-sided cranks.
Flat-sided crankbaits have gained popularity over the years as a colder water method, but don’t limit yourself to this alone. I believe that is a false limit. We like to say things like, “Lure A only works when the water temperature is below 58.5 degrees…” It’s just a rule of thumb kind of thing… not law handed down by Moses. An open-minded, creative thinking angler can find uses for certain tools that fall outside of dogma.
It reminds me of when I used to think jerkbaits were just for “cold water”. That kind of thinking prevented me from catching suspended fish in the warmer months… when many anglers leave their jerkbaits at home.
I like to throw flat cranks during what I term the “in-between” times.
“In between times” are when bass are somewhat inactive, but will still bite faster presentations that efficiently cover water. Maybe the bite is less than ideal, but you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water by giving up on the crankbait entirely.
These “in-between” times call for an in-between lure… one not quite so aggressive or potentially intimidating… a flat-sided crankbait! It’s a way to present a little bit of finesse without slowing down too much. Here are four scenarios…
1. Let’s say the cranking bite was slamming yesterday, but now a pressure front has moved through and impacted the bite.
2. Maybe the water temperature is a little colder than ideal, but the bass are still out and about, ready for a meal.
3. It’s Day 3 and that 160 boat tournament has finally taken its toll on the fishing. The fish are pressured, but they’re still hungry enough to eat. Remember, there are two factors that can affect fishing. There are biological factors and environmental factors. Fishing pressure is an environmental factor and while it affects the bite, it will not necessarily kill a fish’s appetite.
4. You were fishing an area that was activated by wind and current the day before… you return to the fish holding spot, but find the current has dropped off and the surface is much calmer. Plowing a DD22 through 6′ of water and got you hammered yesterday, but not today.
In all of the above scenarios, try a flat-sided crankbait before abandoning the area or resorting to slower techniques. In a way, it’s like downsizing your bait… something often done when the bite is slower. Instead of turning down the lure’s size, you’re turning down its action. Give it a try! It just might surprise you.