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Crankbait tech & spec: primary triggering factors.

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CRANKBAITS EXCEL FOR WALLEYES IN ALL SEASONS. IF CRANKS COULD BE TROLLED UNDER THE ICE, THEY WOULD EXCEL THERE, TOO. ANY WHO SCOFF AT THAT ASSESSMENT HAVE NEVER TROLLED THE RIGHT CRANKS THE RIGHT WAY IN RIVERS REGISTERING A CHILLY 32[degrees]F, WHERE WE HAVE WITNESSED CRANKS OUTPERFORM LIVEBAIT ON MANY OCCASIONS.

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Crankbaits, for the purposes of this discussion, are wood or plastic lures with diving lips. These include suspending jerkbaits, deep-diving minnowbaits, and shallow-running cranks with round bodies. Shad shapes, ovals, round bodies, and minnow styles all apply to walleye fishing at some point. Shape of both body and lip affect action, but body shape and size are also used to match the species of baitfish most prevalent in the systems you fish.

Some of the limitations anglers place on cranks stem from a lack of close scrutiny. Understanding all the aspects that appeal to walleyes pours a foundation. To build on it, you must understand how timing and conditions affect those traits. Some aspects appeal to walleyes in certain conditions, but not in others. The primary triggering factors are profile (size and shape), wobble, flash, noise, and vibration. Most of these things can be tuned, altered, or modified as needed to meet conditions and seasonal preferences.

Secondary factors include things like color, shade, scent, and translucency. A translucent bait allows light to pass through. An opaque crank, one that does not allow light to pass through, tends to be more visible in more conditions than a translucent crank. However, high visibility can be a negative factor. Fluorescent cranks that glow orange from tip to tail represent more than a modest amount of overkill in clear water on bright days, a situation where translucent lures make sense. Secondary factors can be modified, too.

Adding weight to a crankbait, by putting on larger hooks, wrapping wire on the shanks of the trebles, drilling holes to add water or lead, or by adding Storm SuspenDots, alters the wobble, maximum depth, and action. Pinching down the eye of a crank, or bending it down, can affect how deep it runs and how wide it wobbles.

Sometimes these things help and sometimes not. Introducing added action or wider wobble might be great in summer but bad in cold water, when baitfish tend to be more lethargic. Painting your own lures may seem ridiculous, given the millions of patterns already out there; but you can't own them all or have the right one at the right moment.

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On the water, you're limited to what you brought. Sometimes a white belly seems vital or maybe silhouette is all you need, or that chartreuse highlight on Bill's crank is the only difference you can see. Paint pens by Thunder Bullets or Spike-It can save the day. Sometimes the only way to find out is through trial and error. Identifying the vital aspects of cranks that trigger walleyes is just the beginning. Modification, though not always necessary, provides potential to "supersize" a day on the water.

SHAPE EQUALS ACTION

THE SHAPE OF A CRANKBAIT determines its action. Wide-body baits, such as the Wiggle Wart--ones with a flatter dorsal surface and wide bill--displace more water, which (A) resists speed while (B) creating a wider wobble, increased thump, and more vibration, calling fish from a greater distance in murky water. Slimmer baits with a narrow bill shed water more easily, creating less thump and vibration for a more subtle presentation in clear water. Less resistance equals increased speed capability.

A properly tuned Shad Rap can run at speeds over 5 mph, while the Wiggle Wart spins out at over 4 mph. Conversely, the wider shape and plastic construction of the Wiggle Wart keep it down and thumping at extremely slow speeds. But everything is a compromise.

In cold, clear water, predators often prefer the subtle action of the high-floating balsa Shad Rap at slow speeds. To keep it down in such situations, add SuspenDots to the belly precisely on the centerline just behind the plastic bill. Put two Dots on the Wiggle Wart, too, to counteract its round, buoyant body that floats up too quickly on the pause in cold water.

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TWEAKING THE JERK

Thunder Bullets paint pens

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Storm SuspenDots

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Larva Lace

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Berkley Cross-Lok Snap

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pliers

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Flatten eye and bend down slightly to increase action on some baits.

PRECISON TROLLING

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THE TRUSTY DIVE-CURVE data for trolling lures now is available in a durable waterproof version that can be updated easily by adding single pages to the heavy-duty binder. Precision Trolling Pro Edition is $49.95 from precisionangling.com (231/829-5171; 800/353-6958).

PULL POINTS

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Pull point is under the nose, creating a little wider wobble. This is the best pull point for creating an extreme shallow runner.

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Pull point is on the bill close to the body, creating a moderate wobble and a mid-depth range.

With the pull point right on the nose of the body, the same bait runs slightly deeper, with a very tight action.

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Pull point is closer to the middle of the bill, allowing the crank to wobble wide and dig deep. (Any pull point placed beyond this point, toward the end of the bill, will not allow the crankbait to work at all.)

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Title Annotation:KEYING ON CRANKS
Author:Straw, Matt
Publication:Walleye In-Sider
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:904
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