Written by Andrew Schadegg (Follow on Instagram @andrewschadeggfishing)
Images provided by DonkeyBassCo
Are you tired of spending your precious summer fishing days baking in the hot sun and having little to show for it? We’ve all been there and let’s face it, summer fishing can really suck when you can’t figure out how to make them bite.
It’s true that bass fishing in the summer can be challenging, because the shallow fish don’t school up like they do at other times of the year. They tend to be more scattered and spread out. All hope is not lost, though. If you learn how to fish structure in the summer, it can make all the difference.
More than any other time of year, catching bass in summer requires you to fish really close to the docks, trees, bushes and other types of cover. This is where a lot of big summer bass live and a shallow crankbait is a perfect way to find them.
Let’s learn the essentials for catching big summer bass on shallow crankbaits.
What is the Best Rod for Crankbaits?
Making sure you have the right equipment is a very important part of shallow crankbait fishing. You’ll be weaving in and out of docks and shallow cover, so a long rod (like you would use for deeper crankbaits) is not very practical. You want something in the 6’10 – 7’1 range, so that you can cast it easily in tight spaces as you work around these shallow areas.
You also want to make sure your crankbait rod has a good parabolic bend. That means that it bends evenly from bottom to tip. Most rods that are specifically designed for crankbait fishing have this parabolic bend to them. The benefit of having the right crankbait rod is that when you hook a fish with your treble hooks, the parabolic bend helps you avoid pulling the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Pair it up with a slower gear ratio reel and you’ll be all set.
What is the Best Line for Crankbaits?
Just like having the right rod is important, line size is a major factor in fishing crankbaits correctly. As you know, fishing line comes in tons of different diameters and sizes. This gets confusing for a lot of novice anglers, so many guys end up fishing with the same size line for every bait. This will definitely effect how many bites you get.
With crankbaits, lighter line is better, as the bait will get to the bottom more quickly and stay down during more of your cast. When you’re fishing shallow, like 4 feet or less and fishing around a little heavier cover, you will want to go a little bit heavier on your line. Typically, when you’re fishing deeper cranks, 10-12 pound test is the maximum (or slightly bigger for the 10XD type baits). When you’re fishing shallow crankbaits, you can go up to 14 pound test as long as you can still get that bait digging into the bottom. Making sure it can dive to the bottom is the biggest factor in choosing fishing line for crankbaits.
Where Do I Fish a Shallow Crankbait?
Fishing a shallow crankbait in summer is all about structure. You need to get shallow and find those shady places that give bass a lot of places to hide out from the heat of the day, but also opportunity for an easy meal to pass by.
Places like docks or marinas can be prime locations, but also near overhanging trees, stump fields, near bushes, any shallow cover that looks like it could provide the type of protection a bass needs this time of year. Rocky shoreline and rip rap are also excellent places to catch bass on a shallow crankbait year round.
When you have low-light conditions in the morning and evening, the bass won’t be as attached to this cover as they are doing the heat of the day. You can fan your casts out a little bit, because bass will be cruising away from the structure a little bit more. Also, when the wind picks up, bass are going to push into the bank where the wind is blowing in, as smaller fish and schools of baitfish will be blown into those banks. Target those areas.
How Do I Fish a Shallow Crankbait?
Cast your crankbait alongside the structure or docks you’re fishing, intentionally banging the bait against the pilings in order to cause the bait to deflect. Deflection is a major factor in getting bass to bite in the summer and really any time of the year. If it’s a rocky bottom, get that bait down there and let it bounce off the rocks. This change of direction and erratic motion is what triggers bass into striking and will increase your catch ratio a ton.
You can really direct the crankbait where you want it to go with your rod tip. If you’re casting around a stump field, you can move your rod tip to intentionally bang that crankbait into a log or a stump. The key is the change of direction. When bass see that sudden movement, it gets their attention. Makes it seem like it is injured or fleeing.
Shallow crankbaits are an excellent way to find big bass in the summer. They are a perfect search bait and with bass being scattered more this time of year, it improves your opportunity to get bites.
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