Fall fishing represents one of the best times of the year for cranking. Across much of the country, baitfish are crashing the banks in big numbers. The bass are on the move, making their way out of the deeper waters they sought refuge in during the hot summer, up into the increasingly cooler shallows.
During this transition, bass can regularly be caught from 10 feet to dirt shallow, which makes this the perfect time to throw shallow-running crankbaits. Today, we’re going to look at five great crankbaits for fall fishing and what sets them apart.
You better hurry though because this bite won’t last long!
Jackall Bling 55
The longest-standing fall favorite of mine in particular is the Jackall Bling 55. My dad and I first started fishing this flat-sided crankbait around 15 years ago. And though it was discontinued for a while and only recently re-released, it has been a mainstay in our tackle box ever since we first threw it.
Stocking up on this bait all those years ago proved extremely beneficial when the Bling was unceremoniously discontinued. The SG Threadfin Shad pattern perfectly mimics the size and color of the threadfin shad we fish around each fall on the Tallapoosa and Tennessee River systems.
The top-to-bottom flash of this flat-sided crankbait paired with its rattle and color selections make it a great bait for fall fishing in the 3- to 5-foot range. The new version has a weight transfer system to help with casting and features the original circuit board lip.
SPRO Little John MD 50
Taking the body style of the Bling a foot or two deeper, the Little John MD 50 is also a flat-sided crankbait with a lot of top-to-bottom flash. But this bait dives down to the 7- to 9-foot range, making it a more effective bait when targeting bass a little deeper.
With an astounding 28 colors from which to choose, there’s a selection to match the hatch no matter what the water color or availability of sunlight is. As the water becomes more stained or the sky more overcast, move to the brighter colors, like Rootbeer Chartreuse for instance. As the water and sky clears, go with the more natural Spooky Shad or Spooky Nasty.
Equipped with a strong bill, sharp Gamakatsu treble hooks and a tungsten weight-transfer system for improved casting, the Little John MD 50 is the perfect crankbait to parallel those 45-degree banks headed back into your favorite creeks and pockets this fall.
Nomad Atlas 50
A new fall find for me, the Nomad Atlas 50 is a sweet little squarebill. The normal 1.5 size squarebills are fantastic throughout much of the year, but can be a little large for fall fishing. The shad are often smaller in the fall, so the Nomad Atlas 50 resembles them a little better.
But even if this crankbait is a little undersized compared to the baitfish in your area, that can actually be a good thing in the fall. With so much forage up shallow, adding an element to your bait selection to help it stand out from the crowd can at times generate more strikes.
The Atlas 50 is only 2 inches long, compared to its larger counterpart, the Atlas 75, which comes in at 2 3/4 inches. This smaller of the two is an irresistible morsel, seemingly more vulnerable to the bass roaming the shallows. That is, until this little 3-foot diver unleashes its razor sharp BKK trebles. By the time a bass realizes it has bit off more than it can chew, it’s in the boat.
Team Ark MiniDiver
This little nugget is another great undersized crankbait for fall fishing. Like the Atlas 50, the Team Ark MiniDiver has a small body. Even smaller in fact than the aforementioned squarebill, at only 1 3/4 inches long. And where the Atlas dives from 0 to 3 feet, the MiniDiver picks up and covers the 3- to 6-foot range.
Being able to effectively fish this depth range with a tiny crankbait in the fall opens up a whole other spectrum of the water column. Everything in the food chain bigger than the MiniDiver will eat it, which makes this a really fun bait to fish in the fall, when bass are joined shallow by stripers, hybrids, crappie, bluegill, perch and other predatory fish.
Though small bass fishing crankbaits have been around for decades, throwing them has always been a challenge and has forced anglers to resort to fishing them on spinning reels. Team Ark gives you the option to use a baitcaster with the MiniDiver, by incorporating yet again a magnetic weight-transfer system, a running theme among many of these fall favorites.
SPRO Little John Micro DD 45
For our final crankbait on this list, we look to a bait that combines several of the key attributes of the previously discussed four lures, the Little John Micro DD. This is a deeper-diving crankbait like the Little John MD 50, with similar flat sides. But the body of this bait is tiny like the MiniDiver and Atlas 50, at only 1 3/4 inches long.
But where the MiniDiver maxes out at 6 feet, the Little John Micro DD picks up and covers the 6- to 10-foot range. And this bait also has an internal weight to aid in casting, making it usable on baitcasting gear as well. But one of the key differences, this lure is silent, which makes it a great addition to this lineup for when fish are heavily pressured or lethargic due to cold late fall waters.
Taking all 5 of these lures into consideration, you have a fantastic fall cranking option for every section of the water column, from 0 to 10 feet deep. You have flat-sided, tight-wiggling baits with top-to-bottom flash. Rounder-bodied baits that rock and roll side to side. Some that rattle, some that are silent and all that soar through the air with ease.
Each of these crankbaits come equipped with high-quality hooks and between the 5 different models, there are dozens of colors from which to choose. So whether you’re fishing in clear water or stained, around rock, wood, docks or vegetation, with this handful of crankbaits, you can crank one up in any environment.