A squarebill catches big bass and numbers alike. A shallow-water workhorse that’s surprisingly snag resistant, this bait has become a staple in every anglers’ tackle box. But with its popularity have come more than a plenty of choices. Every hard-bait company offers at least one squarebill option, if not multiple under the same brand. So here’s our take on the best squarebill crankbaits for 2023.
OUR PICKS FOR BEST SQUAREBILL CRANKBAITS
- Best Standard Size Squarebill Crankbaits – Strike King KVD 1.5 Silent, Bill Lewis SB 57
- Best Small Squarebill Crankbaits – Lucky Craft LC 1.0 Silent, Bandit Lures Series 100
- Best Large Squarebill Crankbaits – Shimano MacBeth 63, Strike King KVD 2.5 HC
- Best Balsa Squarebill Crankbaits – Black Label Balsa Wreck, Rapala Rocco OG 5
BEST STANDARD SQUAREBILL CRANKBAITS
Strike King KVD 1.5 Silent Squarebill
Arguably the gold stand for squarebills, Kevin VanDam’s collaboration with lure manufacturer Strike King brought us one of the best shallow-water baits of all time in the KVD 1.5. This squarebill is available in both a silent and hard-knock version, the latter offering a loud, one-knock style sound to trigger strikes from aggressive bass. The silent squarebill is better suited for the days when the bass are a little more finicky.
With dozens of colors available, measuring 2 and 1/4 inches and diving 3 to 6 feet, the KVD 1.5 is the epitome of what it means to be a squarebill. This size bait is the benchmark the rest of the squarebill market is measured by, with larger and smaller squarebills available from Strike King and other lure manufacturers.
Bill Lewis SB 57
The Bill Lewis SB 57 (full review) is another bait in the “normal” size range. Comparable to the KVD 1.5, the SB 57 measures 2 and 1/4 inches and dives 3 to 6 feet. What this bait brings to the conversation though is a microchip bill with rounded corners and a wider face, as well as upgraded stock Mustad Triple Grip treble hooks. Though a relative newcomer to the squarebill market compared to the KVD 1.5, the SB 57 has becomes a quick favorite many anglers.
The color choices are more limited with the SB 57 as compared to the KVD 1.5, but the standard colors are all there and there’s something for most water colors and bait types that you may want to mimic with a squarebill. This is a slower floating bait than some squarebills, allowing it to stay down and grind the bottom better, and it comes equipped with a rattle as well.
BEST SMALL SQUAREBILL CRANKBAITS
Lucky Craft LC 1.0 Silent
Though there aren’t many squarebills comparable to the KVD 1.5 in lore and all-time earnings by tournament anglers, Lucky Craft makes a few squarebills that can hang right there with it. The LC 1.0 is one of them. This baits overall profile is slightly smaller than that of the KVD 1.5 and SB 57, offering a great option for highly pressured bass.
This is an ideal bait for cranking along shallow rock and wood, as well as in open water along gravely bottoms and shallow humps. The LC 1.0 dives the shallowest of the squarebills on our list, maxing out around 3 to 4 feet depending on the line size. It’s also only available in a few colors, but the mainstays are there.
Bandit Lures Series 100 Cranks
The Bandit 100 is one of the longest standing squarebill favorites of many anglers. This lure is also a little undersized, measuring 2 inches. The rounded corners of its bill helps this bait slip through cover better than many other crankbaits, while also offering a little less deflection and getting back on track a little quicker.
When you’re looking for a bait to keep down and grind through cover like laydowns and rocks without having to worry about hanging up all day, the Bandit 100 is a great option. Diving 2 to 5 feet and available in an extensive color range, the Bandit 100 is perfect when fishing around pressured fish shallow and when matching the hatch is particularly important.
BEST LARGE SQUAREBILLS
Shimano MacBeth 63 Squarebill
Moving into the larger squarebills, we find a pretty wide range here. There are some really big baits, like the Sixth Sense Cloud 9 Magnum Squarebill (4 inches), the Strike King KVD 8.0 Magnum Squarebill (4.5 inches) and even larger others. But keeping it a little closer to normal and upsizing just a bit, we find baits like the Shimano MacBeth, measuring 2 and 1/2 inches.
The MacBeth has a fairly unique profile, which gives it more of a rolling wobble as compared to some other squarebills on this list. This bait is good when you’re wanting to offer the bass a little something larger to look at as compared to the smaller baits. It dives down to about 6 feet on 15-pound test line with your rod tip pointed down.
Strike King KVD 2.5 HC
The Strike King KVD 2.5 HC Squarebill is slightly larger than the MacBeth, coming in at 2 and 3/4 inches. This squarebill has more of a traditional, harder rocking action. It’s great for moving a little further out on the riprap and rocky banks. It can be fished through the same areas as an average-size squarebill as well though, just hold your rod a little higher.
The key appeal to these larger squarebills is that they have more drawing power and they offer a bass a bigger meal. This can be a big difference maker when fishing through laydowns for instance, allowing you to cover the whole tree in a cast or two and fish all the way through the deeper branches.
BEST BALSA SQUARE BILL CRANKBAITS
Rapala OG Rocco 5 Squarebill
Much like the other baits in the OG collection, it is made of highly buoyant balsa wood. This allows the bait to float up out of cover while still being heavy enough to make long casts. The body shape of this bait is very similar to a typical square bill. It has rounded sides and a 2-1/2 inch long body. The compact shape allows the bait to maneuver through cover with ease, while mimicking small forage that often uses this shallow cover for protection.
The OG Rocco 5 comes equipped with a square shaped circuit board lip. This bait also comes stock with two hybrid VMC treble hooks for maximum hooking power. These squarebills have that East Tennessee flair with a mass produced price point to make a great option for anglers across the country.
Black Label Wreck
Balsa Wood is super buoyant and is a longtime favorite of old-school anglers and lure makers. This wood can be hard to work with and brittle if the grain isn’t in the proper orientation to the body of the bait. The challenges in this realm of the bait world make balsa a bit of niche market. But for those that love balsa baits, lures like the Black Label Wreck are pure gold.
The Wreck has the buoyancy you expect from a balsa bait, making it especially snag resistant. If you feel this bait start to bog down in the cover, simply drop your rod tip and give the bait a little slack and it will usually float right up. This is also when a bite will often come, as the bait collides with the cover and then appears stunned as it floats up. The Wreck comes in at 2 inches, dives 2 to 3 feet and is well equipped with Mustad EWG Trebles.