When the bass get into dirt-shallow water throughout the year, many anglers put down their crankbaits in favor of soft plastics and topwaters. There’s no doubt these types of lures will catch a few, but I’m telling you—big bass will absolutely gag on crankbaits in just inches of water. The trick, however, is finding a crankbait suitable for the job.
Whether my local bass get in the dirt due to weather, water level or time of year, I’ve always caught a lot of big fish on the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait. It doesn’t look like much and there may be flashier or sexier-looking crankbaits on the shelves, but these little dudes flat-out catch ‘em.
I’ve used a lot of shallow crankbaits in the past that have a serious issue with durability. You’re supposed to slam these kinds of lures into any type of cover you can find in order to entice ridiculous reaction strikes. So what’s the point of using one that splits, cracks and breaks in half after a few weeks of abuse?
The Mann’s Baby 1- is a ridiculously durable crankbait. I bang them on rocks, dock posts, stumps and laydowns every time I use them and I’ve never had a single one break on me. It has a one-piece molded body and lip, so bill separation is never anything you need to worry about. Regardless of how many errant casts you make or how often you crank the thick stuff, the bill stays in-place without any special precautions.
The paint on these crankbaits is also very durable, which is major selling point for me when I’m looking to purchase a new crankbait. After a few months, you’ll notice a little hook rash on the side of the body, but I’ve never seen it bad enough to alter the color quality or appearance of the lure. When you bang around in shallow cover, you won’t have to worry much about rock chips, slips or anything of the sort.
Gets where many crankbaits can’t
You can certainly high-stick normal squarebills when fishing super-shallow water, but I try to avoid it when possible for a very specific reason—when a bass eats it, you’re out of position and often forced to set the hook upward instead of to the side. Anytime you set the hook upward on a crankbait, you’re driving the top of the body—the part with no hooks—into the hard roof of the bass’ mouth and risking pulling the bait away from them.
This crankbait gives you two awesome options in shallow water. If you utilize a slow retrieve speed, you’ll notice it bulging right beneath the surface. When it’s early in the morning and the bass are aggressive and “feeding up”, this is an awesome way to whack a quick limit. This is also a great presentation to use when fishing over submerged vegetation.
If you keep your rod tip further down and retrieve the Baby 1- at a moderate speed, it dives about one-foot deep, give or take a few inches depending upon your line size and type. When fished in this manner, it has a surprisingly tight wobble. I know the words “tight” and “wobble” seem contradictory in regards to crankbait action, but hear me out. It doesn’t have a very wide side-to-side swimming action, but the body of the lure rolls on its side throughout the retrieve. Whether you’re fishing for aggressive bass or finicky post-frontal fish, the unique action of this crankbait will produce bites.
When you shake a Baby 1- in your hand, it’ll sound like you’re shaking a maraca. It has a bunch of internal beads that produce an authentic rattling sound instead of a “thump” or “knock”. Not surprisingly, it was designed like this for a reason.
Most of the time—not all the time—bass inhabit insanely shallow water depths when it’s heavily stained or muddied. Muddy water is much denser than clear water, which allows it to warm quicker in direct sunlight. The heaviest stain will often be located close to the shoreline due to precipitation runoff, so that’s where you can find the bass. This time of year, bass want warmer water which makes this situation a common occurrence.
So when the bass are in this shallow, muddy water, they need a little help honing in on your lures. They can’t see very well, so extra sound and water displacement can be necessary. The Baby 1- accomplishes this goal because its loud rattles and aggressive rolling action make it easier for the bass to locate.
If you like to fish shallow water, this little crankbait is a must-have in my opinion. It’s built like a tank, it operates effectively in skinny water and its rattles are great weapons in dirty water. Oh, and by the way, it’ll only cost you $4.99. That’s hard to beat.