Of all the lures in Todd Faircloth’s tackle boxes, the ones he does not talk about very often are his big, deep diving crankbaits. That’s because the Yamaha Pro knows how effective they can be during the warm weather months.
“Deep diving crankbaits are not easy to use because they really tire you out,” explains Faircloth, “but I like them because I think they attract larger bass than jigs or Carolina rigs do. If you can convince yourself big crankbaits are worth the effort it takes to fish them, you’ll realize they’re effective from late spring through early autumn on lakes all around the country.”
The best deep diving crankbaits today can reach depths of around 20 feet. They’re large lures and usually have a strong wobbling action that makes them hard to retrieve, especially for hours and sometimes days at a time.
“There isn’t a lot a fisherman can do that makes using deep diving crankbaits much easier,” acknowledges the Yamaha Pro, “except use certain types of equipment. I recommend bass anglers use slower reels, such as those with 5:1 gear ratios, and that those reels have larger, over-sized handles. Those two features will definitely ease arm and wrist stress caused by continuous cranking.
“The other item I suggest fishermen use is a longer rod of at least seven feet in length. One of the real keys to successful deep cranking is making long casts, especially with the wind at your back if you can, and a long rod will always give you extra distance and make retrieving easier.”
In most cases, he uses 10-pound fluorocarbon line, but in shallower water, or on lakes with a lot of heavy cover like his home waters of Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend Reservoirs, he will change to a heavier line just to avoid break-offs.
Faircloth tries to make his lure look and act erratic during his retrieves, which means not only changing speeds and jerking the lure occasionally with his rod tip, but also trying to ricochet the crankbait off cover or the bottom. With the prime strike zone usually located between 12 and 18 feet, he concentrates primarily on offshore structures like main lake points and creek and river channels. With his electronics, he’s also looking for stumps, laydowns, or rocks that make these types of structure even more attractive to bass.
“The majority of bass I catch with this technique always hit the crankbait after it deflects off something and suddenly changes direction,” he emphasizes. “That’s why making long casts is important in deep cranking. With a long cast, the lure stays deeper longer and has the chance to hit more cover, but even if the lure misses specific cover, bouncing and grinding it along the bottom can be just as effective.”
“Deep cranking works because the lures not only get down into the deeper strike zone bass usually have in summer,” continues the Yamaha Pro, “but also because the lure itself is larger and more closely matches the size of the forage bass eat this time of year. These lures measure between three and four inches in length, so they’re much larger than the crankbaits we throw in shallow water.
“Summer bass are also schooling fish, so when you bring a crankbait through a group of bass like this, there’s a certain amount of competition among those fish to grab the lure first, before another fish can get it. That’s the type of situation you always hope to find when you’re deep cranking, and when you do, you can catch fish on every cast. They’ll nearly always be quality fish, too.”