Let’s face it, there are hundreds of ‘mistakes’ you can make when you are on the water crankbait fishing. I’m sure I make plenty of mistakes, and will no doubt continue to do so. Still, you never stop learning, right?
As a bit of a crankbait specialist, there are three big (and very basic) mistakes that I see again and again. I’d like to bring them to your attention in the hopes that if you are making one or more of these mistakes you can change what you are doing and see real benefits in the number and size of fish you catch – instantly!
Mistake #1: Not knowing how to tie on a crankbait
I’m serious! Quite often I see beginner crankbait fishermen, and some not so beginner ones, using the wrong knot to tie the crankbait to their leader. This may seem like a trivial thing, but it’s actually very important.
Probably the first knot I learned when I was a child fisherman was the clinch or blood knot. It’s still a great knot and even today I sometimes use it, but NEVER for tying on a crankbait. Why not? Because the clinch knot results in the line being snugged very firmly to the towpoint. What this does is creates resistance to the swimming action of the crankbait, so it doesn’t swim properly. Or not as strongly as it should. Or at all.
How much does the knot impact on the effectiveness of the lure? It depends a lot on the size and action of the lure and on how heavy and stiff the leader material is. If you are using big, strong-actioned lures on light line it’s probably a non-issue. But who uses big, strong-actioned lures on light line? Any other time knot choice really IS an issue. A big issue. One that will cost you fish if you don’t take simple steps to change it.
So what common knots should be avoided when tying on a crankbait? Clinch, blood, palomar, uni, trilene, in fact, any knot where the line is pulled tight to the towpoint.
And what knots are crankbait friendly? Lefty’s loop, rapala, non-slip loop, centauri, perfection loop. Obviously, any knot where the crankbait ends up swinging freely in a small loop at the end of the line.
And what about swivels and snaps? I use small snaps very occasionally, usually when I’m testing new crankbaits and want to chop and change lures a lot. Other than that, the best advice is to avoid them. Generally speaking, snaps and swivels add to weight and dull the action of the crankbait – it’s better to spend a few seconds retying a knot.
Mistake #2: Not varying the retrieve
It’s easy if you are having a slow day to just flick your crankbait our repeatedly and crank it back on in. Over and over. It’s relaxing. It’s methodical. It’s costing you fish.
The irony is, when the fishing is tough, that’s when you have to work a bit harder. You can’t allow yourself to doze off into a rhythm, you have to keep trying different things. You have to focus your attention and concentrate on your crankbait, otherwise the chances are you’ll go home empty handed. One of the worst things you can do is to spend a whole day casting, retrieving, casting retrieving, without varying the pace of your retrieve.
Why? During fishing, crankbaits wobble and wiggle, and that wobble and wiggle causes vibrations in the water. This is super important, because vibration is something fish can sense from a very long way off, long before they can see a crankbait, and they are tuned into vibration in a huge way. But they are not necessarily tuned in to every frequency of vibration. You need to keep varying your lure speed, throw in some pauses, twitches or whatever to change the vibration. Otherwise you risk creating a vibration that the fish just aren’t tuned into, then proving they aren’t tuned in by repeating it all day.
By varying your crankbait retrieve speed, the number or duration of pauses, the addition of a few sharp jerks, trying a walk the dog approach or whatever, you stand a good chance of sooner or later finding what is working for the fish on the day. But here’s the catch – it may be something completely different that is required tomorrow!
To put it into a human context, imagine yourself driving in traffic. You have the constant hum of cars and trucks around you. But what do you notice? That music on the radio that you enjoy. You’re tuned in to that! What if you hear a siren behind you? You better believe you’re tuned into that – and will respond.
Fish are the same. Sometimes they are lazily feeding and are tuned into the gentle buss of an insect that has fallen on the surface. Other times they are actively hunting and are tuned to the vibration of fleeing baitfish. Still other times they are shut down and not feeding, but they can be annoyed by a particular vibration until they lash out.
But here is the catch – you have to be concentrating so that when you do get a strike you can remember what retrieve you were using at the time, then you can repeat it on the next cast!
Vary your retrieve!
Mistake #3: Being too persistent
Are you a believer that fishing is a game of patience? Well, I guess sometimes it is. But not always.
I see guys who fish a whole day with the same crankbait, or maybe with just one or two lure changes. Maybe even just a color change using the same lure. Unless you are catching fish consistently all day on that one crankbait you are wasting valuable fishing time. And I don’t know about you, but I just don’t get enough fishing time.
Don’t get hung up on a favourite crankbait just because you caught fish on it last time or because your buddy says it is a sure-fire bet, or because you read somewhere it always catches fish. If you are confident that you are fishing somewhere that there are good fish numbers, yet you’re not catching anything, try something different. Change your retrieve a few times, then change your crankbait.
Unless you are fishing for shut down fish that have to be made angry by annoying them with multiple casts to the same snag, most times fish will nail a lure in the first three or four casts, or not at all. Change your lure, or change your spot.
It is natural if you’ve had success on a particular lure to be hesitant about changing it when things go quiet. Don’t hesitate, change it now!
Give these ideas some thought next time you are out on the water and see what it does for the number of fish you catch.
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Dr Greg Vinall is a professional aquatic scientist and an avid maker of wooden fishing lures for three decades.
Greg teaches other fishermen and lure makers the art of making custom wooden fishing lures through his website and ebooks.
If you enjoyed the information provided in this article you can join Greg’s free email service to receive similar articles every week, or surf his website and blog for a ton of free lure making information.
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Article Source: Greg Vinall
Image by E_tac (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39059358