Old crankbaits for a new fall approach

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Steve Bowman

It seems like we hear about every new bait that’s made, and that if you don’t have a half-dozen of them in your boat you may as well not bother to make a cast. Some of the new lures are really good, but so are some of the old lures. 

I’m especially fond of several old crankbaits for fall fishing. Old doesn’t mean out of production. It means being around for many years and falling off the radar screen. You know, they’re the lures you never hear about anymore but at one time were all the rage.

Just because a lure’s old to us we think they’re old to the bass. But they aren’t. Bass live and die their own lives. They don’t pass on learning to their offspring like humans. What’s in our grandfather's tackle box that we’ve seen a hundred times is something the bass living in our local lakes have never seen. It’s new to them.

I’m going to talk about four of my favorites but not because they’re the only good ones around. They’re just the ones I like. Think about them in the context of what you have in your old tackle boxes and then make your own decision as to what to throw. The idea behind this column is to give you something to think about.

One of my all-time favorites is the Shad Rap. You don’t hear much about them anymore, but I will tell you that they caught bass back in my days as a recreational angler and a few times during my pro career. They’ll do the same thing today. 

Shad Raps are made from balsa so they’re light and float high. They have a tight wiggle and they come in a variety of sizes and running depths. See if you have a handful of them around, or something similar. If so, clean them up, swap out the hooks and give them a try between now and winter.

Another one is the venerable Wiggle Wart. You do hear about this one but only at certain lakes. That’s a mistake. They’ll catch bass anywhere.

The old ones are favored by the pros. They’re made with a heavier plastic and have a slightly different vibration than the new ones. The problem is that back when they were made production wasn’t as good as it is today. Some of the old ones are really great but some of them aren’t so great.

There’s an unusual crankbait called the Speed Trap that I like for shallow water applications — sometimes. It has a lip that extends almost straight out from its body, and it has a square front to it. It’s sort of like a square bill, but not really. It’s unique. That’s why I fish it.

My final pick is a regional lure of sorts. It’s the Hot Lips. This crankbait has been fished forever in the deep, clear mountain lakes here in Tennessee. I’m not personally familiar with how it fishes in other parts of the country, but I’m guessing it’ll work anywhere you need to crank deep. 

Its primary attraction is that it’s different, especially the way the lip is designed. Regardless of how long it’s been around the bass haven’t seen or heard one. You might have a couple in an old tackle box, or maybe something similar. Clean them up, tend to the hooks and start throwing them. 

Go through your old lures — baits you haven’t thrown in years — and find something that’s different, not like what’s being made these days. Maybe they’re the ones I’ve mentioned,maybe not. Either way, give them a try. You might be surprised at how the bass react to them.