Cranking For Shad-Hungry Fall Bass

by Glenn Walker


Looking for some hot cool-weather action? It’s tough to beat the rush of cranking for aggressive, hungry, shad-focused bass.

A great way to boat more fall bass and cover lots of water quickly is with shallow-running crankbaitslures that mimic the high-protein shad that bass are targeting now as they fatten up for the long winter ahead.

Many anglers will shy away from using lures with two treble hooks in snag-filled shallow waters, but those fishermen are missing out. The path to success lies in using the correct baits and proper gear; once you do your chances of getting hung up decrease dramatically, while your hookup rate can soar.

Some of my best shallow-water cranking areas are the same spots many anglers will choose to run  spinnerbaits. By changing things up, you’ll not only be giving those bass a look at something new, there is also another big benefit. Compared to a spinnerbait, shallow-running crankbaits offer bass a more-appealing mealthese lures simply look more like the shad the bass are now targeting. By choosing the correct color combination, size, and style of your crankbait, you can effectively “match the hatch,” allowing you to trigger more strikes.

What type of shallow water cover areas should you be cranking? Here are a few favorites:

Rip rap: As the water temps begin to dip, baitfish and bass will congregate around rock, as these areas will be slightly warmer than other structure. Rocky points or other, similar areas that have a current break will often hold massive schools of bass.

Submerged laydowns and stumps: Bumping your bait off of these types of hard structure can provoke post-cold-front bass into striking.

Submerged Vegetation: Running your crankbait over dying lily pads is a great way to cover these vast areas.

Boat Docks: Locating docks that have other forms adjacent to them will likely yield the most bass.

Flats: Bass often school together and work in unison to push schools of shad up onto a shallow flat, resulting in an easier meal.

The key when fishing any of these areas is to use a shallow-running bait that dives just deep enough to make contact with the cover. This allows you the option to pause once you feel that contact, and let your bait float slowly to the surface, which can be an effective strike trigger. Another great trigger can come as your lure deflects off wood. When it does, be ready.

Each shallow running crankbait has its own unique action and can shine in a specific scenario, which is why it’s important to experiment and check each lure’s performance around each form of cover outlined above. The more you know about your lure arsenal, the more effective your presentations become. You’ll find that certain baits perform better around vegetation, while others shine around rocks, or wood.

Keeping a wide variety of crankbaits in your arsenal allows you to match the bait to the bite.

Some of my favorite shallow running crankbaits include Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, the Rapala DT Fat 1 & 3 and DT3 Flat, the Spro Fat John, the Storm Arashi, and Strike King’s KVD 1.5.

To help make precision casts in tight quarters (i.e., place your bait near the cover, not in it), I use the 7-foot, Wright & McGill S-Glass Cranking Rod. It is important when selecting a cranking rod that it has a nice soft tip, which helps keep the hooks from ripping out of a bass’s mouth. This is where the aforementioned S-Glass model excels.

When it comes to spooling your reel for shallow cranking, I feel there are two smart options: mono and fluorocarbon. Since it floats, mono will help keep your bait from diving as deep. So if you are looking to run your bait over vegetation, or maybe a series of laydowns, mono would be a good choice. I like 15-pound Seaguar Senshi mono.

If you need to get your bait slightly deeper, to, say, run parallel to a boat dock or around rip rap, then using Fluorocarbon is a good choice. The nice thing about Fluorocarbon is that it’s very abrasion-resistant; it won’t get as nicked up when fishing around heavy cover. I’ve been impressed with 15-pound Seaguar Iviz X Fluorocarbon.

Typically, multiple casts to your shallow water targets will be needed to trigger bass into biting, so maintaining good boat control is critical to success. As I prowl the shallows with my Minn Kota Fortrex Trolling motor, I’ll be firing as many casts as I can; then when I find a key target–a big stump or maybe a laydown that extends all the way from shore to deep waterI’ll deploy my dual 12-foot Minn Kota Talons. This way I’ll remain in one spot and be able to make multiple, precise casts to a given target.

Shallow water cranking can work all year long, but I use this effective technique predominantly in the fall, when bass are up shallow and feeding heavily. As I see it, it’s a perfect match for the conditions. Still worried about losing crankbaits to shallow snags? Hopefully I have put your nerves at ease. Now go grab some of your favorite lures and toss them around some shallow water coverwhich can see one of the most-productive bites of the entire year.



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