What’s new with crankbaits

I’m at a trade show this week for dealers and manufacturers looking over new products for the 2013 season. What I’m seeing is pretty interesting from a smallmouth angler’s point of view. One of the things that really stands out to me is the way crankbaits are developing this year.

There’s two parts to it. The first one, and maybe the most important, is running depth. At one time, most companies made two or three models that ran shallow, medium and deep. That’s really changing this year. I’m seeing baits — from the same company — that run a couple of feet apart from two feet deep down to 16 feet, or in some cases deeper than that.

This is really good news. We’ll now have weapons to hunt smallies that fit exactly into our game plan. I’ve always liked crankbaits as lures, especially in the spring and fall, but they had a drawback. It was impossible to cover all the water with them unless you were willing to spend a small fortune on several different models from different manufacturers. Those days are over.

Another thing I’m seeing is a return to some of the old colors. There are lots of yellows coming out. I’m not talking about new shades of chartreuse. These colors are true old-fashioned yellows. I’m also seeing the old style brown body with an orange belly combination, too. Again, that’s good news. These colors caught fish 20 years ago, and they’ll do the same thing right now. The fish haven’t gotten any smarter.

This trend is something that’s really going to help us catch more smallmouth bass. We’re going to be able to cover all depths with new colors. That’ll give the fish something to look at that they haven’t seen before. I don’t think crankbaits will ever replace jigs as a primary smallmouth bait but they will give us something new to fish with when we’re targeting highly pressured fish.

Before I go, I want to say something about the running depth of crankbaits. Manufacturers test these lures under perfect conditions. They know what line to use and at what speed to retrieve them. (I know this because I’m a manufacturer.) This works perfectly in the manufacturing process, but it’s only a place to start when it comes to fishing with them.

If precise depth control is important to you, I suggest you test these baits with your line and your tackle. Remember, it isn’t the test weight of the line that matters, it’s the diameter of the line. Fatter line keeps the bait shallower, and narrow line lets it run deeper.

My advice is to save a few of your fishing dollars for when the new crankbaits arrive at your local tackle store. You’ll soon have plenty of choices to fill out your smallmouth arsenal.

Next time I’ll let you in on what’s new with spinnerbaits. I think you’ll be as excited about it as I am.

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