From the water’s edge

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Crankbait capers

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

One of the difficulties that I have with crankbaits is their sheer variety. A shad is a shad. The make doesn’t matter that much although some suit my ideas a bit better than others, colour is not a great issue and the retrieves are limited. Deep or shallow, fast or slow, steady or variable; it is all pretty simple.

There are endless designs and styles of crankbaits. They nearly all work differently and somehow you have to establish what the most effective retrieve for a particular pattern is. I have never met an angler who had just one pattern in his box, whereas some of the most successful softbait anglers I have met carry one or two variations of colour and a couple of different sizes of just one make.

A shad is an imitation livebait that looks like a fish and behaves as like the real thing as you could wish for. It is not necessarily so with crankbaits.

Despite the manufacturer’s efforts to make some of the patterns realistic in colour, pattern and shape, they very rarely behave like a real fish. They are a caricatures which give off signals that for some reason predators find that they have to strike at. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes a fish will behave out of character and take a lure that is behaving in the most bizarre and unrealistic way. Perch can often be caught by just violently twitching a small crankbait so that it leaps about in a violent and unpredictable manner unlike anything in nature. Pete Allen and I recently fished the Thames with Colin Lurcook of the Lure Angling Society and I must admit I have no idea why the 2-10 oz perch above, came up from the bottom and took his baby-1-minus less than 12” below the surface on a freezing cold winter’s day. Especially on a day when not one other perch was prepared to take anything at all. I can’t imagine when it last saw a fish that was bottle green above and post office red below either.

To somebody that has always fished his lures in ways that as closely as possible mimic the behaviour of the real thing, this is a challenge. There are just so many variables that unless I can come up with some kind of meaningful approach to using them, I fear that Sharkey will keep showing me up. At least it gives me an opportunity to waste some more money. Watch this space.

After a couple of weeks in which I have left all my favourite soft baits at home and used nothing but crankbaits, I find that it is going better than I expected. However it is going nowhere near as well as it needs to if I am ever to place crankbaits higher up my favourites list than shads and spinnerbaits.

For the first time in years, I have started adding a few new crankbaits to the lure box. Rapala Tail dancers and Smithwick rogues have been especially productive for me so far, but it is difficult to say why. They seem to have quite a wide action, but whether that is relevant I don’t yet know. It may just be that I have used them more.

I am not a competitive person, but the thing I love most about lure fishing is the problem solving and the primary problem for me is ‘how do I get more takes’? Beyond that I start to look at catching more large fish than small ones; so when Sharkey catches more and bigger fish than I do it is time to reconsider my prejudices. When he fishes alongside me, matching me fish for fish and his are bigger than mine, then I have to accept that it is no longer a matter of my bad luck. When he catches more than me, I feel that it is time to try and understand a bit more about the best way to catch fish on crankbaits.

I never did get on with crankbaits.

They have never really suited my approach to lure fishing and although they were the first type of lure that I really used, it wasn’t until I stopped buying new ones and left those I already owned at home, that I really started to catch fish. Unsurprisingly, I persevered with the lures that worked for me after that; at least I did until now.

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