Crankbaits around the year: although most people tend to use crankbaits only around September or October, I have found that using them the whole year around while fishing from the kayak or shore can be extremely effective. Don’t misunderstand me, there are some changes you should make to be successful with crankbaits in the different seasons.
By Toon Van Ham.
We will start off with the spring, when the water starts to warm up and the fish starts to get more active, crankbaits are the key to get successful early fish trips! When the sun shines on the shallower parts of a canal, river or lake the fish will get in spawning mode. Time to search them in shallow parts of the canal, for fishing in shallow water I love to use the Rawbite 7cm. This lure is perfect for stop and go or straight retrieve but… it has a deadly action while being twitched. The side to side roll will seduce these perch and zander in the shallower parts. It has a loud rattle inside so when you try and twitch it, it will make these perch and zander go crazy.
One of the biggest misconceptions about crankbaits is that they are not very effective for zander, I totally disagree with that statement. When you know there is zander and you can’t catch them on the cranks there are two main steps that you can try. First of all fish deeper, don’t search for deeper area’s but just fish the crankbait flat on the bottom. It will jump up on the stones or structure and make a lot of noise. Twitch, twitch and stop for a second, that one second the zander will attack your crank. Floating crankbaits like the Rawbite will slowly come off the bottom and give zanders the opportunity to attack.
Previous year I had a few friends who said that they would catch a lot more with softbaits than I would catch with cranks, I invited them for a few hours on a local canal and afterwards they started fishing with crankbaits as well because I caught plenty of perch and zander. Is it because I’m fishing better than they are? I definitely don’t think so, crankbaits just cover a lot more water in the same time then shads. And one of the most important things in fishing is to search the fish! So another advantage of crankbaits, you can cover a lot of water and try a lot more spots which will be payed of in more fish.
Late spring/Early summer
Late spring/early summer fishing with cranks, the baitfish spawned and the canal is loaded with small fish. In this period I start to downsize (match the hatch), the small crankbaits like the buzzbite 5cm and bullybite 6cm work great. The predator species are very active and you can start with faster retrieves, those two crankbaits are perfect for an aggressive stop and go method. A few quick rotations and a suddenly stop is my favourite method now. The fish will be more spread out so drop offs and places with a lot off structure deserve more attention.
Mid -and late summer
At this time of the year, the small baitfish has become a little bit bigger and this is when i start using my favourite fishing method! My hobie outback kayak is perfect to fish where other people can’t fish, I search for closed off shores around the canal. Most of the time these shores will provide a lot of fish. I start searching with my favourite crankbait, the Babybite Deeprunner. This crankbait comes in a silent and rattling version, I prefer the rattling version because the canal is murky and I think it might be something that triggers the fish. While casting the babybite DR will go around 3,5 even 4 meters of depth. I prefer to get it on a certain depth before I start twitching it, the perch and zander can’t resist this style of fishing.
Furthermore, pike seems to have difficulties resisting the rolling, aggressive action of a crankbait. The water is warm in this period so the pikes are very active, and very often they smash everything that comes too close. Luc Coppens caught very big pikes on small crankbaits around 6 and 7cm.
Around this time Luc Coppens is pre-fishing for the World Crank Cup, I had the opportunity to join for a day casting crankbaits on a big river system in The Netherlands. We ended the day with a lot of fish totally exhausted from all the casting and changing of spots. We found big pike, perch, some asp and even a big bonus zander in the last minutes.
This is definitely the most famous period for fishing with crankbaits. The fish starts to feed up for the winter and they are very active in every part of the water. The best places to search them around this time of the year are the same as in summer. Drop-offs, structure or mussel strokes are the perfect places to hide for predator species and they provide food for the baitfish. If you find baitfish there will be some predators close by.
The Babybite DR, Bullybite 7cm and Rawbite or my top 3 cranks this time of the year: the Babybite for deeper parts (3 to 4m), the Bullybite for stop and go around the shallower drop-offs (1,5 to 3m) and the Rawbite for twitching on these drop-offs.
Last but not least the winter time, this is the hardest period for catching fish on crankbaits and most people will start with shads. Although most people start fishing in deep area’s I start searching on shallow hard plates for monster perch.
These perch are searching for crawfish and other types of food on the shallower beds and the fishing needs to be slowed down. Most of the time I’m ‘cheating’ and I’ll try softbaits on a Carolina Rig! The Ringteez CT delivered me two cranking perch of 51cm while fishing with the Carolina rig.
But these shallow plates are also perfect for slowly twitch along the bottom. That’s the only style of cranking I practise in wintertime and mostly the attacks will come while fishing really, really slow!