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Score big with small crankbaits

Even with the squarebill craze in full swing, Tennessee pro David Walker finds real value in using small crankbaits for bass. Photo by Seigo Saito

Pro angler David Walker is from Tennessee. That means at least two things. One: He can fish. Two: He can crank. If there’s any one state in the United States that can lay a claim to being the epicenter of cranking, it’s Tennessee. This is the land of garage carvers, basement air-brushers and fisheries that present a limitless length of stump-bumping, wood-rubbing, billed bait bliss. So, it’s only natural that he fishes heavily with all sizes and sorts of cranks — even small ones.

Shallow cranking took a big turn about a decade ago, when the squarebill craze first took hold. And since that time, squarebills have definitely pushed smaller crankbaits to the side. Whenever something like that happens in bass fishing — when one style of bait supplants another — the losing bait will usually earn its way back to the top in a renaissance of sorts. Whether that happens or not, Walker won’t hesitate to throw a small crank anytime he’s fishing shallow water. He has one tied on everywhere he goes.

Whenever Walker talks about small cranks, he’s referring to baits that run about 6 feet deep or less. And to get more specific, he’s “really talking about baits that run 3 to 5 feet.” “Some of these can be really small, like micro crappie cranks,” he says. “I have boxes and boxes of crankbaits.

They all work, but they all have a situational time when they work, and small crankbaits especially. One I’m using lately is the Yearling Baitball Series from LiveTarget. It comes in a 45, 50 and 60, and the 60 is about the size of a 1.5 (squarebill). The 50 is just below a Bandit size, and the 45 is about the size of the 0.5. The 50’s my favorite because it’s on the smaller side but still has a weight-transfer system."