How To Fish Small Crankbaits For Pre-Spawn Bass

How To Fish Small Crankbaits For Pre-Spawn Bass


Tying on a small crankbait for a youngster or beginner angler is a good way to keep them preoccupied catching plenty of bass. But that same small crankbait can also work for you when conditions are tough in late winter and early spring.

Crankbaits in the 1/4-ounce size or smaller produce plenty of keeper size bass in the spring, but I have also caught quality bass on the small lures, such as a 6-pounder I caught in March that was the big bass of a club tournament I fished at Lake of the Ozarks. The small lure will trick bass anytime during late winter and early spring, but it is especially effective when bass start receiving heavy fishing pressure from spring tournaments.

Small Crankbait Versatility

The versatility of these smaller crankbaits allows you to catch bass in a wide array of conditions for various waterways. The wide depth range of these small crankbaits lets you run the lures less than 1 foot deep without it turning sideways or getting stuck on the bottom. The lures also can run down to 6 feet deep to bang into the rocks where bass hold in late winter and early spring.

When crawfish start getting active early in spring, select small crankbaits in crawfish colors such as dark red with an orange bell and run the lures along chunk rock banks. A fire tiger hue works best when cranking downsized baits in stained to muddy water.

Small Crankbait Retrieves

Water conditions dictate the type of retrieve you should use for downsized crankbaits. When the water is murky and cool in the late winter/early spring, try a slow to medium retrieve. If the bite is tough, bring the lure out to a 4- or 5-foot depth and just give it a break in the retrieve. When you stop the lure, the buoyancy of the crankbait will cause the lure to back up into the face of any bass following it. The muddier the water is, bass seem to attack that fire tiger color better as the crankbait starts rising.

A steady retrieve with an occasional twitch of the rod tip works best for running downsized crankbaits in clear water.

Smaller crankbaits can be tougher to cast—especially into the wind—but I still prefer to throw these lures on baitcasting tackle. I use a 7-foot casting rod with a light-action tip and a baitcast reel spooled with 8- or 10-pound test monofilament.


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