There seems to be no end to the sheer variety of crankbaits available on the market today, but the hundreds and hundreds of options at your disposal are very necessary. No two bodies of water are the same, and the temperature, season, and light all play vital roles not only in the color choice and body style, but running depth as well. Some situations require baits that dive to depths of 20 feet or more, where they can collide erratically with the rocks along the bottom to entice fish. However, sometimes it’s necessary to throw baits that run a little shallower. This is where shallow crankbaits come into play.
As the shallower waters near shorelines become clogged with weeds and other vegetation, lure options become somewhat limited. This is no problem, however, as shallow crankbaits are designed to skim just below the surface, but just above the weed line, which does a great job of luring shallow water lunkers. Like all crankbaits, they’re not weedless, but they will roll and bounce over logs and such on the retrieve, which causes many fish to strike.
These shallow beauties come in two basic styles: lipped and lipless. Lipped models will have a very small, vertically inclined bill that keeps them at a consistent depth while maximizing the wobbling motion they exhibit during the retrieve, and work best when fished over brush and slowly through vegetation. They also float when you stop the retrieve, which allows anglers to fish them as slowly as they wish.
Lipless crankbaits are designed to speed through the water quickly, and burning them over logs and grass beds is the way to go. Most are equipped with internal rattles which, when retrieved rapidly, create a lot of vibration and disturbance that fish can’t ignore.
The shallow crankbait gained more fame this year with its dominance during the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. Tournament winner, Kevin Van Dam, along with several other pro anglers, used shallow crankbaits to work cypress stumps and other structures among the shallow waters of the Louisiana Delta. Subtle bumps off logs and other objects are what give crankbaits life, and the bags weighed in by those anglers who used them during the 2011 Classic can attest to that.
One of the most important skills an angler can possess is the ability to adapt their technique to whatever the situation demands. Shallow water, especially shallow water teeming with vegetation, is prime bass territory, and there’s no reason to shy away from it out of fear of snagging weeds. Throw a shallow crankbait over the tops of the weeds or through the thin lanes in between, and watch the bass go crazy. Yeah, you might pull in a few grass pike every now and then, but if you’re not getting snagged or pulling in weeds every once in a while, then you’re not fishing the right spots.