To start, I’m going to say something that a lot of people may not agree with – Crank baiting is one of the best ways to pull big bream from structure. Why? Their head is already facing towards you. But a little bit more about that later.
In the start (when I say start I mean late 80’s, early 90’s) there were really only a couple of types of lures that would catch bream. The first was a surface lure intended for bass or a timber crankbait used for trout and bass. At that stage, all crank baits were hand-painted with a white undercoat and bright fluoro colours. The surface lures were much the same as today, although they are now made from far better materials. Most crank baits had bigger bibs and were prone to snagging up on weed and other structure, but they would still catch bream and I remember some really good fishos using them around structure and catching very good fish.
So let’s move forward to today and look at what we have to choose from. We now have super shallow, shallow, mid deep and super deep. But the ones I’m going to talk about in this article are the shallow and the deep versions. I think that if you only had these two types you could cover everything you would come across on the water. The colours are far from what they used to be and look so good they even catch fisherman with translucent UV shrimp stripes to matte black with red eyes. You name it – they’re making it.
Over the years I’ve tried them all. I have a huge collection of cranks and still have a lot of favorites, but in the last few years I have found what I think to be the best I have ever used. I’m talking about the Pro Lure S36 (shallow) and the D36 (deep) crank bait.
This is why I think they’re so good. I’ve used a lot of crankbaits but found that the size was always wrong. And if the size was right, the weight was wrong. The hooks would always need to be replaced or the lure would need tuning out of the pack. The Pro Lure 36 is a perfect crank bait lure. It’s 36mm long, 3.8 grams in weight, size 14 Decoy trebles, and they swim out of the box as good as a $30 lure.
The weight makes for ease of casting and the colours are as good as any on the market. At the time of writing this, I hear of another big bream prize falling to a Pro Lure 36 and I know I have secured a number of big bream prizes on them.
Now it’s time to talk about ‘how’ and ‘where’ to fish them. As I said at the start, crank baits are one of the best techniques to pull big fish away from structure. Crank baits make fish eat them. They swim out and attack them and this is by far one of the biggest advantages of crank baits as the fish is already facing you. This means you don’t have to turn their head and therefore they have to work a lot harder to get home. In the racks is where I think they come into their own. Being able to cast over the racks or along the trays making the fish come out for them gives you a big opportunity of getting them out.
Pro Lure S36 and D36’s float and this makes them two lures in one. When fishing racks or structure you are able to stop and let the lure float up giving the fish a chance to grab the lure or giving yourself a chance to pull the lure away from a snag. You can also use the crankbait as a surface lure because they float. This is one of the best ways of fishing cranks. You simply twitch it on the surface allowing the fish to see it. Give it time on the surface with a few twitches to start to crank it down- this is when bream will grab the lure. I know in my experience, there are times on the flats when there is no wind I will leave the lure to float on the surface up to 2 minutes before moving it at all then only a slight twitch to start cranking.
One of the biggest things I see people doing today is using fluorocarbon (fluoro) straight though. I think there is merit in this but only to people that know how to use cranks well. If you’re starting out I would stay with using braid and leader. The feel that you get with braid allows you to understand what the lure is doing from hitting weed to snagging on rocks. For the guys that know how to use cranks the fluoro may be for you as I see it has two big advantages. Firstly, fluoro is invisible in the water so fish don’t see it as well as braid. Secondly, you don’t pull hooks out as much as with braid due to its stretchy properties. It’s also a cheaper option.
Wind, wind and more wind. I know people just hate the wind, and that’s a problem. The wind is your friend and after reading this, please try what I’m about to say and then see what you think. My first tip is to always fish windy banks. If there is no wind, go to the banks where the wind blew yesterday. Why wind? Wind does a few things. It puts oxygen in the water, creates current, pushes the food to that bank and is a form of cover for the fish. A lot of people fish with the wind but this lowers your chances of the fish seeing your lure. Instead, try to cast across the wind, as the fish will be sitting into the wind like trout in current. As you bring your crank across, more fish will be able to see your lure compared to just bringing it with the wind. When fishing in a strong wind, have you ever seen a baitfish or prawn swim head first into the wind? Not that often I bet! In this situation, put on a crank that has a fair weight and cast into the wind and wind a bit quicker to keep up with it.
Deep or shallow? I love fishing shallow. In fact, the shallower the better. But what would you think if I said I use a deep diving lure in shallow water and a shallow in a bit deeper water. You see, things happen with a deep diving lure that doesn’t happen with a shallow one. They use different angles and so should you. The best way to change angle is to change the lure and a deep diver does exactly that. It pulls down into the bottom and puts the hooks in the fishes face. It also digs up the bottom and keeps the hooks away from snags. You can also wind the lure very slowly. Now when I say shallow I’m talking 100mm. Generally I use shallow cranks in 400mm up to 3 meters and then I’ll switch to deep lures at 3m+. Once again, angles come into play. The shallow crank will get more hits from the sides and from underneath when in deeper water so I like the hooks to be where the fish are going to hit the lure.
Rods. Let me start by saying I think the next big thing in rods will be an increase in length. The thing with a short rod is that you get accuracy but with a long rod you get distance. This is what you need for fishing with crankbaits. How I see it is this – If I were to fish in a bream tournament and use an 8 or 9 foot rod, there would be no doubt that one could cast at least 2 meters further than another angler with a 7 foot rod. If you were to cast only 80 times each in that bream tournament this would mean the fisherman with the longer rod would cover 160 meters more than the fisherman using a 7 foot rod. I think it would only be fair to say the guy with the longer rod would have more bites.
By Jason Meech