When Crankbaits Are King for Spring Bass

When Crankbaits Are King for Spring Bass

The speed of those early-spring presentations is more important than at any other time of year when it comes to eliciting strikes.

Crankbaits might be your first lure for pre-spawn bass.

As a fishing guide pursuing bass — smallmouth, largemouth and spotted alike — across the Midwest and Northeast, this time of year Capt. Doug Dingey rarely reaches past his rack of crankbait boxes to catch pre-spawn bass.


“Crankbaits are king in the spring,” he explains. “I typically have at least four totally different crankbaits rigged when springtime bass fishing. Most will be Rapalas and vary from shallow-running No. 14 Husky Jerks, No. 18 Original Floaters and No. 9 Shallow Shad Raps, to various medium- to deep-divers like the plastic Rattlin’ Rap and wooden Fat Raps and Shad Raps, both shallow and deep X-Raps and X-Rap Shads, Jointed Shad Raps, Tail Dancers and the newer Shadow Rap and Shadow Rap Shad in both deep and shallow models.

“Productive colors and finishes can be anywhere from bright and flashy to extremely dull and can change hourly,” Dingey continues. “Again, let the fish tell you what they prefer. Different colors can also work at different locations. And here’s a hint: The color that catches the most fish rarely catches the biggest fish, so, again, you need to experiment.


“I usually prefer the largest of lures at this time of year,” Dingey adds. “All of the past season’s baitfish have made it through winter and are about a full year old. Since these baitfish, which continue to grow in size, are what the bass have eaten all winter long, most times 4- to even 8-inch-long lures will catch the most and largest bass.

“But again,” he advises, “always let the fish tell you what they prefer. I always start large and gradually work smaller in the size of my lures to let the fish tell me what they want to eat.”


According to Dingey, the speed of those early-spring presentations is more important than at any other time of year when it comes to eliciting strikes.

“I usually start out with a medium-speed constant retrieve on my lures,” the guide explains. “But as with lure size choices, if I’m not hooking up, I will also vary my retrieves from super-slow up to super-fast, and also with some very erratic actions to find out what triggers the most fish. As with the most productive color, the best lure speed can vary by the day or even by the hour, so be different and experiment.

“The most important tip I can give to catch any species of bass in the early spring is to follow the wind. Wherever it blows you is most likely the best place to find the most active baitfish — and therefore, the bass.

“The second factor is water temperature,” he explains. “Seek out the warmest water, as it will most likely attract the most baitfish, be they minnows or shad.

“A two-degree variance in surface temp can be a lot at this time of year. Because the southern sun is aimed the most at the northern shores, these areas are usually where the warmest water will be found. Incoming water at this time of year can also often be warmer, so it will also usually draw baitfish. If the baitfish are there, so too — usually — are the bass.”

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Gear

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

Guns

MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.

Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

See More Stories

More Bass

Bass

Topwater Lures, Tactics for Summer Bass

Ronnie Garrison - June 24, 2019

Here's how you choose the best topwater baits and where, when and how to fish them.

News

Florida Orders Halt to Keeping Shoal Bass from Chipola

G&F Online Staff - June 07, 2019

Catch-and-release still permitted, but harvest and possession are not.

Bass

Baitfish for Bass: Search, Suspend or Sink Crankbaits

Jason Houser - May 21, 2019

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish!

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×