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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crankbait Modification - Part 1 - Getting More Depth

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing and providing examples of modifications anglers can make to their crankbaits to achieve better performance. There are many things one can do to turn an ordinary, mediocre, out of the package crankbait into a great fish catching tool. Perhaps the most common question I hear is, "How can I get my crankbait to run deeper?" So, this topic is going to be the first covered in this Crankbait Modification series.

One of the most important things in getting your crankbait deeper is to be sure it is tuned. Having a properly tuned lure is the basis for catching fish with it. If it's not tuned right, no amount of modifications is going to help. If you cast it out and notice during the retrieve that your line is moving to either the left or right, then your lure is not tuned properly. There are several reasons this could happen with the most common being a bent line tie and uneven lip. To fix a bent line tie is very easy but can be frustrating. Sometimes, you can adjust it too much and it will start running the opposite direction. I have found the easiest way to tweak lure direction is by taking a pair of needle nose pliers and placing one side on the line tie and the other on the side of the lure's lip and gently bend. You should bend the line tie in the direction that you want the lure to run. Photo 1 is an example of me tuning a Norman DD22 that has been custom painted. Do not apply too much force because you will break the lip! If the line tie doesn't bend easily, you will need to grip only the line tie with your pliers and bend. It may also be necessary to bend the front edge of the line tie to the right or left. Photo 2 shows an example of this.

Remember to make small adjustments and test before making any additional adjustments. Definitely take the time to learn how to do this because after catching several fish or getting your crankbait caught on the bottom a few times it will need to be tuned. Sometimes, the lip will crack or break. You can buy replacements from several sites on the internet, but I find it easier and less hassle to salvage the hooks and split rings and buy another lure.

Now that your lure is tuned, let's get it going deeper. The most obvious way to get the lure to dive deeper is by adding weight. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few that I have used and work great. First, you can add Suspendots or Suspenstrips. These are easy because there is no drilling, sanding, or painting required. Just stick them on evenly on each side of the lure and you're ready to go. Placement of these on the lure depend on personal preferences. I like to put them on the bottom front just behind the lip to achieve a more vertical dive.

Some other ways to add weight are a little more time consuming. These include adding lead wire to your hook shanks, drilling into the crankbait and adding BBs (which also makes it louder), drilling into the lip of the lure and adding lead, and changing to different hooks.

To add lead wire, simply wrap it around the shanks of your treble hooks. If you do this to the front treble, it is more useful in getting your lure deeper.

Drilling into the crankbait involves drilling a small hole, but big enough to insert BBs, putting the BBs in, epoxy over the hole, sand, and repaint. This method is entirely too time consuming in my opinion. It also works better with plastic crankbaits.

Drilling into the lip of of a crankbait involves using a dremel tool to hollow out part of the center of the lip and inserting weight with epoxy. This is tricky and can easily throw the balance of the lure off if done incorrectly.

Changing to different hooks is something I do on all my deep diving crankbaits. I prefer size 1 Owner Stingers 2x. They make up to a 4x, but I think that is overkill for bass fishing. The 2x is very strong, heavy and very hard to bend. The main reason I choose this hook is because it is much heavier than those on most factory packaged lures and has great holding power.

Line size is another factor in getting your crankbait deeper. The lighter the line, the deeper the lure will go, which is due to line diameter. I wouldn't use any lighter than 8 lb test on a deep diving lure. There are too many things to break the lure off. With the cost of high quality crankbaits these days, I don't want to lose any more than necessary. In the past, I would use 10 or 12 lb monofilament because I liked the stretch provided. I feel this is best when using treble hooks. However, fluorocarbon line will get the lure deeper because it sinks. I have been experimenting with Berkley Professional Grade 100% Fluorocarbon and have been very pleased with it. You should make long casts which requires a longer rod. I prefer 7' to 7'6" rods for cranking. The farther the lure has to run, the deeper it will go. Lastly, use a slower ratio reel. I use a 6.3:1 and slow down my retrieve, but most pros prefer a 5.2:1. I just haven't brought myself to purchase one yet.

Another modification for getting more depth is to "shave" the front of your lure's lip. You must be careful to make it even. This allows the lip to slice through the water better, quickly achieving maximum depth. It also decreases the durability of the lip making it easier to break. To do this you need a good fine toothed file. Hold the lure in one hand and file the front of the lip at about a 60 degree angle.
Finally, here is a tip for those of you who want to get to the absolute depths of your lake. It's very simple. First, make a Carolina rig with a 1 1/2 or 2 oz weight. Then, tie your crankbait to the end instead of a plastic. This can be very effective when fish are deep because you can stop the retrieve and the crankbait will float right in their face. The bite can be hard to feel so pay attention. You can use any size crankbait for this because that heavy weight will take it to the bottom.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you achieve the depths you desire. Some of these will require trial and error, but once you learn them they are very helpful. I recommend trying these modifications on some of your cheaper, least favorite lures until you get the hang of it. That's it for now. The next topic in this series will be about painting and color selection. Have a great day!

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