Just about every manufacturer of crankbaits makes a line of deep diving crankbaits. They are usually those great big ones you see in those extra-large packages. The size of them alone is intimidating. When you reel it in it feels like you’re reeling in a boat anchor and you need an electric winch to get it back to the boat. Of course, I’m exaggerating a little, but you do need some specialized equipment to fish those big baits properly. Don’t run away now though, because thankfully there are some deep diving crankbaits available that you can actually enjoy using with standard bass fishing gear.
Two of my favorites are the Norman Lures: Deep Little N, and the Bandit Lures: 300 series crankbaits. They are both relatively small lures for the depth that they can achieve. The Deep Little N is a little bit larger than the 300 and it dives a little bit deeper as well. Generally, using 10lb test Berkley Ultra-Thin line, I get about 15 feet deep with the Deep Little N and 12 feet deep with the 300 series. You can use both lures with most standard bass fishing rods and reels.
If you would like to try some of the really big lures you will want to have longer rods and reels with low gear ratios designed for fishing deep diving crank baits.
There are some tricks to getting the maximum depth out of your lures. Longer casts will allow the lure to get deeper, so if you have a longer rod available, you can use that to make longer casts. The thinner your fishing line, the deeper your lures will run as well. I like to use Berkley Ultra Thin line to get some extra depth out of my lures. Reeling faster will not make the lure run deeper. Reel at the speed that gives you the most vibration or widest wobble of the lure.
Only a properly “tuned” crankbait will achieve its maximum depth. To tune a crankbait, you just give the wire connecting loop or line tie of the lure a very slight bend to one side or the other with a needle nose pliers. Make a short cast into the water. With your rod tip up and your rod directly in front of you, start reeling the lure back in. If the lure swims off to the right or the left and not straight back to you, tune it to run directly to you. If it ran to your left, bend the line tie a little bit to your right as you are looking at the lure eye to eye. Don’t turn or twist the line tie, just bend or push it to one side or the other.
I like to fish deep diving crankbaits around weeds and rocks, especially rocky and weedy points. It’s a great lure to use as a search lure to cover a lot of deep water while trying to locate a school of bass. Any deep weed line that is located on a sandy or rocky bottom is a good place to use a deep diving crankbait. Don’t be afraid to fish these lures around the weeds because it is much easier to free them from the weeds than you would think.
There are two quick ways to free your crankbaits from the weeds. The first way is to stop reeling when you feel the drag of the weed and simply give the lure some slack for about one second before beginning to reel again. The pause will allow the lure to float and back up from the weed. Most of the time it is the bill of the lure that has contacted the weed, so if you allow the lure to back up for a second, it will clear itself from the weed. I usually try that a couple of times, if it’s still stuck, then it probably has the weed by the hooks. In that case, I just jerk the rod hard to tear it free from the weed.
Now you won’t be able to fish the lure through thick mats of weeds, but you can fish it around and even through thinner clumps of weeds. Don’t forget about fishing sunken timber or brush too. In timber it’s also handy to have a cheap “plug knocker” or lure retriever handy for extreme hang-ups. Work the crankbait through the timber smoothly and try not to set the hook on a branch or you’ll hung up that lure for sure! In the case of brush or timber you’ll first feel the drag of the line slipping over the branch followed by the lure hitting the branch and then the lure itself flopping over the branch. Try not to get too excited when you first feel something or you may end up setting the hook on a branch.
Once you have a fish on the line you’ll want to play it gently. Don’t give the fish any slack line while playing it or it’ll have a chance to free itself from the lure. Crankbaits are easy lures for bass to throw, so if the fish makes a move to the surface respond with a move of your own. Reel faster and lower your rod tip close to or right into the water. That will help you to keep the fish from jumping and tossing your lure.
Always keep close tabs on the condition of your line when fishing around abrasive types of cover. This is especially true when using thin and light line for cranking around brush and vegetation. One little nick can severely weaken the line. Most of the abrasion will occur on the first six feet of line from the lure. Anytime you can feel a nick or rough spot in the line, you will need to cut off that six feet of line and retie your lure. Keep a close watch on the knot as well.