UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Three Spring Crankbait Patterns to Try

Mark Rose

There’s not a better time of year than spring to start throwing a crankbait. As bass move up into the shallows from their winter haunts, many put on the feedbag before beginning their yearly spawning chores. From Vermont to Tennessee, some of the best cranking action, for both size and numbers, can be had in the spring. As such, we called upon a few of the FLW Tour’s best crankbait specialists to provide a look at a few of the patterns they’re fishing this time of year.

 

Live Target

Jeremy Lawyer – Ozark smallmouths

If you live and fish anywhere in the Ozarks, it almost guarantees that you’ll be part of the spring cranking tradition there.

“For me the time to throw a crankbait is right now,” says Jeremy Lawyer. “I’m lucky enough to live on Table Rock and the first wave of fish that get up there a lot of years are smallmouths. If you want to catch spots and blacks [largemouths] you’ll target some of the deeper stuff, and if you want to target the smallmouths you get on the flat gravel. When a fish is up on that gravel it’s there to eat, and that’s something a lot of guys overlook.”

Lawyer says that cranking flat, main-lake gravel points and pockets can be a veritable bronzeback mine in the early spring. He likes a bank or point that’s fairly flat – the kind of place where a long cast from the shore might not splash down in water that’s 10 feet deep. He usually starts on the points, but likes to fish all the way into the short main-lake pockets, especially in the afternoons. He targets any laydowns or cedar trees in the water, but is happy to simply crank gravel as well. Regardless of the exact location, the number one key is the wind – if there isn’t at least a little chop beating the bank, you might as well give up on the crankbait, advises Lawyer.

Throwing 8- or 10-pound-test and a medium-speed reel, he likes a LIVETARGET HFC Crawfish crank.

“It’s got a great hunting action right out of the package, like what some of the best Warts used to do back in the day,” says Lawyer. “I do have Fall Creek Lures custom-paint about all of mine, just to get some colors that everyone else isn’t throwing and the fish don’t see all the time.

“It’s amazing what you can do with just a green crawfish bait. Sometimes they are eating it okay and then you put one on with an orange belly instead of a white belly and all of a sudden they start getting the bait down in their crushers.”

Lawyer likes a medium-fast retrieve has calls “walking.” Though he says that a super slow and steady crawl is popular, giving it a little more speed is usually better.

“The trick to fishing it is kind of dragging it like you would a Carolina rig,” describes Lawyer. “You don’t really stop the bait, but you don’t simply wind it. We call it “walking.” A lot of times those last two or three wiggles on a drag before you start again are when they want to eat it.”

 

Brad Knight – Highland lakes in Tennessee

Brad Knight got his start fishing lakes such as Watts Bar and Norris in east Tennessee and is one of the best at the cranking game. Knight says that anytime you get on a lake that isn’t primarily centered around grass, a crankbait is a killer in the spring.

“You’ve got two deals in the spring,” says Knight. “One is when they are coming up off the Alabama rig bite and from deeper water. Those are the steeper banks – 45-degree (incline) stuff. After that they move up to the flatter stuff. As they transition farther into the backs and into the spawning pockets I target those flatter banks and the points.”

Early in the spring, with the water in the low 50s, Knight sticks to the main lake and the front halves of coves and creeks. He says he’s mostly looking for rock, and his fishing isn’t too different from how he cranks in December on lakes such as Dale Hollow. Later in the spring, before the bass go on beds, when the water is in the upper 50s, Knight targets flat points and banks near the mouths of spawning pockets. It’s then that he especially likes mud or clay banks with laydowns or rocks interspersed on them. He says that as the bass move up, they’ll gang up on the little structure incongruities.

“One of the best shallow cranking bites I ever got on was in the prespawn – I think it was on Norris [Lake],” says Knight. “It got really warm, and the fish got on little rock veins on mud banks. They were moving up so fast that by the time you got down one bank you could turn around and go down the same bank and catch them off the same spots again.”

Early in the spring, Knight says he prefers a Strike King 3XD. Later, as he fishes shallower and hits more wood, Knight likes either a Strike King 1.5 or 2.5 Square Bill.

Knight has a fairly straightforward color selection system, but he ends up throwing less red in the spring than most bass fishermen because of his choices for muddy water.

“I watch the water and light,” says Knight of his color choices. “If it’s fairly clear with lowlight conditions I’m going to go with a spring craw; if it’s dirtier I like whiter baits, and if it’s brighter and clear water I like the green gizzard shad color or something more translucent.”

 

Strike King Flat Side

Mark Rose – The flat-side bite

Pretty much every pattern Mark Rose gets on these days is tournament-winning and one of his favorites was key to his win on Guntersville in the FLW Tour season opener. In the spring, when the water is still pretty cold, Rose likes to break out a flat-sided crankbait and go to work.

At Guntersville Mark Rose used an old flat-sided square-bill made by Strike King’s custom lure shop. It’s no longer available, but it’s really just a slightly larger and heavier version of the many flat-sided balsa baits currently available.

“When the crawdads just start to creep out, that flat sided crankbait is really good,” says Rose. “Anywhere the water is from about 49 to 56 degrees it will work. I’ve caught ’em on it in warmer water, but there’s something about that flat-sided crankbait when the water is pretty cool that is deadly.”

Though rock transitions and chunk rock banks are good targets, Rose says that the subtle little crankbait is good for more than just the hard stuff.

“It’s not necessarily just rock,” details Rose. “I caught some fish in the Guntersville tournament on inside grass lines. Riprap is what everybody saw, but I caught four big fish on a flat-sided crankbait on the inside grass lines. It had a hard bottom, but it’s more about the conditions than anything. You can throw it around grass, or boat docks or anything with the right conditions.”

One condition that Rose always wants to see is some color in the water. For him, the spring flat-side bite is not a player in extremely clear water. Perhaps that’s why he is drawn to slightly heavier tackle – the “small crankbait” model of the Mark Rose Ledge Series of Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Stick rods and 12-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu

“I know a lot of people back east fish those kinds of baits on a spinning rod, but find I can do it a little better with a baitcaster and 12-pound line,” says Rose. “Some of the reason guys use a spinning rod is because they throw smaller flat-side baits or a wider array, and when I throw anything smaller than usual I do use a spinning rod. But most of the time I can get by with a baitcaster just fine.”

For colors, his usual go-to patterns are spring craw or brown and chartreuse in stained water. For a very light stain, Rose says he’ll go with just a regular shad or Tennessee shad pattern.

FLW Tour pro or not, if you fish for bass, you probably should throw a crankbait before bedding season kicks in where you fish. Doing so likely will convince you that crankbaits always need to be part of your springtime game plan.

Tags: cranking  spring  jody-white  article 

Q&A with Costa TD Mark McWha

Q&A with Costa TD Mark McWha

The Costa FLW Series is clipping along through its 2019 schedule, with the first Western Division event set to begin in about a week at Lake Mead. New FLW Series Tournament Director Mark McWha is preparing to trek across the country to run that event, but before he’s scheduled to go we caught up with McWha for a Q&A session that gives readers and anglers a more formal introduction to the new leadership for one of FLW’s top tournament circuits. READ MORE »

It’s a Level Playing Field at Lake Mead

It’s a Level Playing Field at Lake Mead

The Costa FLW Series hasn’t made its way to Lake Mead for a Western Division event since 2007, and while a lot has changed in the 12 years since, Mead is as good a fishery as ever, especially for anglers who know how to effectively break down such a big body of water that's full of largemouth and smallmouth bass. READ MORE »

How to Catch More Winter Bass on Jigs

How to Catch More Winter Bass on Jigs

Sometimes catching more bass on jigs in the winter is as easy and re-thinking how you fish structure in relation to the bank. READ MORE »

High School Camp Registration Open

High School Camp Registration Open

Registration is now open for the 2019 Costa FLW High School Fishing Camp, which will be held July 24-26, 2019 at Murray State University and Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

High School Fishing Camp

High School Fishing Camp

READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Toho

AOY Update: Lake Toho

 With the first two events of the 2019 FLW Tour season in the books, it’s time to take a look at how the Angler of the Year race is shaping up. At Sam Rayburn and Lake Toho the pros were tested with very different conditions, and the standings include anglers different specialties and skill sets than at this time last year, when the Tour’s first two events were both held in Florida. READ MORE »

Costa FLW Series Western Division Opener

Costa FLW Series Western Division Opener

The recent government shutdown put the Costa FLW Series Western Division opener on Lake Mead in a holding pattern, but FLW has received clearance to proceed with the event as planned, regardless of the current or future status of government operations. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Hailing from Minnesota, Josh Douglas is in his third year on the FLW Tour and looking for his first FLW Cup qualification. Were it not for a disqualification in the final event of the year at St. Clair in 2018, Douglas would have sailed into the Cup. After a tough start to the year at Rayburn, he’s planning to get back on track at the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

A Look at Lake Toho

A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The third and final day of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole has the weather anglers have been hoping for since they started practice. A light breeze, plenty of sun and temperatures near 80 degrees have the top 10 pros and co-anglers licking their chops for a chance at the biggest bag of the tournament. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Every ounce counts in a tournament, and that will certainly ring true today. The second day of Costa FLW Series competition on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole may be off to a better start, but big bites are still few and far between. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Power fishing and flipping lead the charge for the first few hours of fishing on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Toho Preview

2019 Lake Toho Preview

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short) is the first of four lakes on the menu for pros in the second stop of the FLW Tour. At the south end of Toho, a lock and a series of canals leads to Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch) and Lake Kissimmee, which are all fair game for the pros. READ MORE »

A New Way to Follow FLW Live

A New Way to Follow FLW Live

In November, FLW announced a major expansion to its popular FLW Live programming, increasing the total broadcast time for the season to more than 700 hours. To help fans access and track all FLW Live video streams, a new “Live Broadcasts” section has been added to the FLW homepage. READ MORE »

2019 BFL Season Kicks Off This Weekend

2019 BFL Season Kicks Off This Weekend

While much of the northern United States is locked in a deep freeze, Southern bass anglers will be kicking off their 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League season with the Gator Division tournament at Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla., and the Cowboy Division tournament at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Many, La. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Fishing deep-diving crankbait, dragging Carolina rigs and working finesse baits such as drop-shots were the keys to success at the FLW Tour opener at Sam Rayburn. Here are the bass-fishing baits that the top pros used. READ MORE »

Day 4 on Sam Rayburn Postponed

Day 4 on Sam Rayburn Postponed

FLW officials have postponed the final day of the FLW Tour opener presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. The top 10 anglers slated to finish the event Sunday will instead fish Monday to close out the tournament. READ MORE »

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Russell Cecil is one of a number of standout Texas anglers fishing the FLW Tour opener this week on Sam Rayburn. After a lackluster rookie campaign in 2018, fishing near home is a great opportunity for the Willis, Texas, pro to get the year started off strong. Though the conditions are far from normal, a few hours on the final day of practice reveal that Cecil certainly has a read on the bass. READ MORE »

Evinrude Extends FLW Sponsorship

Evinrude Extends FLW Sponsorship

FLW announced today a sponsorship renewal with Evinrude for the 2019 season, marking the 18th year the brands have aligned. The agreement ensures that Evinrude and its premier lineup of outboard engines will be showcased across all FLW tournament circuits and through exclusive digital content as well as remaining the official outboard sponsor of FLW. READ MORE »