Weighting hard baits

Seigo Saito
2011 Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam

You can alter the performance characteristics of hard baits like jerkbaits and crankbaits by adding weight to them. Most anglers are familiar with adding weight to a jerkbait to cause it to suspend, a technique that is important when fishing cold water. However, you can also cause a bait to sink when it's hesitated, or to rise slower than it was designed to do.

Making a lure suspend, rise slowly or even sink can come in handy when you want the bait to stay in the strike zone longer.

But, adding weight can also change the action of the bait. For example, a weighted crankbait will react differently when it bounces off a rock or stump, and a weighted jerkbait will move differently when you pull it through the water. Both of those factors are often dictated by where you place added weight to the lure.

Years ago, we drilled holes into the lure and then filled the cavity with lead. That's still effective, but you can ruin lures by not getting them properly balanced.

Better methods utilize a soft, sticky substance called "Sticky Weight" or Storm SuspenDots placed on the nose or belly of a floating lure to help it suspend or rise slowly.

SuspenDots and SuspenStrips can be stuck to the belly, stacked and removed at will. They're not noticeably heavy but contain enough weight that you can make minor changes in the weight distribution of a lure.

Adding larger hooks, or hooks made of a heavier metal, can make a difference, too. Be selective, however, as hooks that are too large may tangle or severely change the lure's action.

Soft solder that is sold in wire-like rolls is another option. You can wrap the solder around hook shanks to make the lure suspend.

The slow-rising crankbait is a trick I like to use in cold water or after cold fronts. When the bait hits an object and I hesitate it, it lingers in the area longer and triggers strikes from fish that might not hit baits that rise quickly.

If I need more weight or want to suspend the lure at a specific depth, I may fashion a small, clip-on tube weight onto the front split ring and make adjustments until the bait sits in the water precisely the way I want it.

Remember: The balance point on nearly all floating/diving baits is near the front hook hanger. If you want a weighted bait to maintain its horizontal integrity, you've got to position your added weight near that front hanger.

Some people believe that weighting a bait with the nose or tail down will change the action and make the bait more effective. However, it's been my experience that a perfectly balanced lure offers more erratic action when it deflects off a piece of cover or when I jerk it.

Keep in mind that water temperature can affect how a bait floats or suspends, so test a lure next to the boat before you fish it.

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