Crankbaits in the Salt

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Crankbaits in the Salt

by Capt. Terry Rand

Crankbaits in the saltwater? Absolutely!

Crankbaits have long been regarded as a lure that no angler can do without, when it comes to freshwater bass fishing. But, little is ever mentioned of the use of crankbaits in the saltwater arena. There are a number of lipless crankbait designs used for trolling and casting in saltwater but it seems there are few of the lipped variety being used except by a few that are wise to the cranking technique. In recent years, many lure manufacturers have been addressing this with the creation of a whole new generation of saltwater crankbaits.

Lipless crankbait designs like the Rattle-Trap have been popular for years as they do a fantastic job of imitating small baitfish like peanut bunker or pinfish. Striped bass fishermen in the northeast used to rely on these lures during the spring spawning runs of river herring. Larger designs used for trolling for wahoo and kingfish have also been found to be extremely effective on these speed demon fish.

When it comes to lipped designs like you find in the bass fishing industry, the selections are somewhat limited and most of the time they aren’t classified as crankbaits when sold for the saltwater market. A suspected reason may be that traditionally, freshwater crankbaits have profiles that usually mimic bluegill or small shad, as opposed to saltwater species that are generally more streamlined. Most lipped lures sold for saltwater fishing are thin profiled minnow baits that run relatively shallow. The lack of variety in the selection of cranks for the salt has led many anglers to lures designed for musky fishing.

For example, the Rapala Super Shad Rap is a popular lure that is ideal for muskies and northern pike but this lure instantly crosses over as a fantastic striped bass and snook lure.  
The same goes for the Rapala X-Rap Jointed Shad, with its 5 ¼” body length and its VMC Perma Steel hooks. Both of these lures really fit the crankbait description with the slightly bulkier body profile and the diving lip.

As small crankbait designs are becoming more popular with inshore anglers everywhere, Mann’s Bait Company has also presented the market with Tidewater Mid-1 Minus and the Tidewater Waker. Both of these baits are very shallow running lures with the Waker performing best just breaking the surface of the water. Mann’s has also had great success over the years with the Stretch series of saltwater cranks which can reach depths of up to 30 feet. Mann’s continues to expand on the success of this series, introducing new models regularly.

One thing to also keep in mind when choosing crankbaits are that many freshwater cranks will perform just fine in the salt.  You will need to upgrade the treble hooks and preferably the split rings to high quality, corrosion resistant hooks. Many of the products made for musky fishing are already built with these components just to be able to stand up to the strength of the jaws of these fish. 

So, depending on where you fish in the country, you may find some anglers are using crankbaits quite regularly where in other locations it is unheard of. But, think about the types of fish in your area that you are angling for and what they eat. If it is a baitfish that they eat and it wiggles and swims, then there is surely a crankbait that would be the perfect lure in certain situations to catch that type of fish. Sometimes, you just have to think out of the box a little.

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