Squarebill vs. round bill

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Crankbaits come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but it's the bill that determines how they dive. Pictured (L-R) are a Rapala Brat, DT Fat-3 and DT6.

I’m sure most of you reading this use crankbaits, probably with regularity ... and for good reason. They’re great lures for finding and catching bass. 

Not only do they probe nearly every depth of the water column, they cover it laterally as well. Crankbaits are, in many cases, the ultimate search tool.

Whether it’s a surface-running wake bait or a dredging deep diver, the effectiveness of cranking lures is undeniable. The only thing in question is which is best for a given situation. Determining that can sometimes be a challenge. 

Crankbaits come in all sizes, shapes and colors … even materials. Some are made of balsa, others with plastic. Still others combine the two. But rather than delve into all the variations and subgroups, I’d like to focus on what makes them dive.

Squarebills

One of the most popular types of crankbait is the squarebill.

Most squarebills have full, bulbous-like bodies that are highly buoyant. This makes them swim aggressively from side to side while displacing massive amounts of water. That, in turn, enables them to travel efficiently through cover.

Certain squarebills will also “hunt” as they move through the water, and that meandering, irregular tracking is often a good thing. Some are designed to do so right out of the package, others require some modification. But while the hunting aspects of a squarebill can be desirable, it’s not a requirement in every situation.

Any well-designed squarebill will have plenty of built-in action. More important is how they come through cover — how they deflect and recover as they encounter subsurface objects like rock and wood. That’s what makes them so deadly. 

Models like the Original Bagley Balsa B, Rapala Brat and DT Fat-3 are perfect for this.

I throw them in off-colored to heavily-stained water, over and through flooded brush, laydowns, submerged stumps, riprap … even lily pads. All of these cover forms make ideal targets for the action of a squarebill crankbait.