Pay attention to crankbait sounds

I’ve cashed checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of my career on Strike King crankbaits, and the 6XD in particular. If you tie one on under the right conditions, it’s a great tool to help you be competitive. If you want to move from the check line into the winner’s circle, you’ll sometimes need to make sure that you’re using the exact right model of a particular crankbait.

When it comes to tinkering with crankbaits, most people start by altering colors or retrieves. Those changes can clearly make a difference, but it you’re not considering sound as well then you may not be tempting catchable fish. That’s why the 6XD comes in three different versions: silent, regular (low knock) and the newest, the “Hard Knock,” which is much louder than the other two. It’s not obnoxious, but it makes substantially more noise, which can make all of the difference in the world.

The low-knock version is usually my starting point. I’ve done so much damage with it on the various tours that it’s where my confidence lies. After using it to work over a school, however, I’ll usually follow up with the silent one. That’s my mop-up bait, and it often helps me catch a few more critical fish.

However, the silent model is sometimes my starting point, such as when chasing clear water smallmouth or fishing places like Amistad over the grass. A lot of people may not know that the silent model runs 12- to 18-inches shallower than the “standard” version, which is another factor that you need to take into consideration. If your regular lure is getting bogged down in thick hydrilla, the silent one may just tick the tops of it, allowing you to get in more good casts.

If you want the silent model to achieve the same depth as the standard, or vice versa, then you can achieve that by switching up your line size. I typically crank with 12-, 15- or 17-pound test Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.

With Strike King’s squarebills, I also experiment with different sound patterns to maximize the bite. Fish in shallow water get a better look at your lure than those in 15 feet. That alters my thinking too.

I tend to start off with the silent version, but this spring I got a lot more bites on the Hard Knock 1.5 than any other model. When everyone else is throwing a lipless crank or a vibrating jig, get one out and you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll outfish them. 

Don’t forget about colors either. I’m not saying that you need every pattern in the catalog. That might make a difference, but it could also lead to confusion. However, you want to have some variations within a specific model.

Accordingly, I might carry three different crawfish patterns. Similarly, if they’re eating Tennessee Shad, try Tennessee Shad 2.0 or Sexy Shad to see if that gets you more or bigger bites. Sometimes it doesn’t make any difference at all, but there are occasions when it can be like flipping a light switch.

Often you can get on a school that’s fired up. Any lure that dives to the proper range and is a reasonable color choice will work, but if you want to achieve 100% effectiveness, or at least approach it, then these little alterations can make a big difference.

The worst thing you can ever do as an angler is get complacent or lazy. Don’t forget to consider sound when you’re making your changes, because it can be a huge deal.