Crankbait fishing for winter bass is an excellent way to cover water and trigger lethargic fish when water temperatures are below 50 degrees. While Cody Huff is an expert at targeting deeper roaming bass with forward-facing sonar, for many, reading the bank and chunking a crankbait is preferred, or at least a welcome change of pace from head-down forward-facing sonar sharp-shooting. Huff explains how to find productive shorelines and choose the best crankbait for the job based on depth and water temperature. *Additional product links at the bottom.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- CRANKBAIT – Rapala DT8, color – Bleeding Oliver Shiner: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- CRANKBAIT – Rapala DT10, colors – Rootbeer Crawdad: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- CRANKBAIT – Storm Original Deep Wiggle Wart: Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- ROD – Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Made in USA Casting Rod – 7’2″ – Medium: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- REEL – Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Baitcast Reel – Right – Model JPT10HA: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LINE – Sunline Crank FC Fluorocarbon Line, 12-pound: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- RAIN JACKET – Guidewear Xtreme Late-Season Parka: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- RAIN BIBS – Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops Guidewear Elite Bibs: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
WINTER BASS LOCATION ON HIGHLAND RESERVOIRS
Huff emphasizes fishing the conditions, focusing on gravelly banks and transition between rock types and depth. He blends fishing flats and steeper bluff areas, never knowing exactly what the bass are relating to on any given day. Huff stresses the importance of finding shallow water near deep areas, especially on main lake bluffs that transition to flat points. He suggests starting on the main lake and moving into creeks if necessary, constantly adapting until you find consolidations of willing biters. As always, channel swings are productive winter spots highland reservoirs.
HOW TO CHOOSE GOOD WINTER CRANKBAITS
While the Storm Wiggle Wart is legendary on Bull Shoals and other Ozarks Lakes, they can be too much in terms of action in cold water. Huff’s approach involves fishing crankbaits with a tighter, softer wobble, ideal for cold water temperatures below 50°. He prefers the Rapala DT series over wide-wobbling hunting baits for its tighter wobble — think of the DT lineup as a Shad Rap on steroids. Additionally, the DT lineup covers all key depth ranges, so you can change to deeper or shallower running models based on where the fish are positioned. On this day, Huff alternated between DT8 and DT10 models, selecting natural colors for the clear-water conditions. Key to his strategy is covering water and targeting high-percentage spots, from shallow banks to steep transitions.
WINTER CRANKING BOAT POSITIONING AND GEAR
Huff’s technique involves paralleling the bank to keep the bait in the strike zone longer. As a crawfish pattern, swap crankbaits to ensure enough running depth to make bottom contact consistently. His choice of gear, a 7’2″ medium power rod paired with a 6.8:1 ratio reel, optimizes this crankbait tactic.
ELECTRONICS & BOAT CONTROL
- FISH FINDER – Garmin EchoMAP Ultra Fishfinders: Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- FORWARD-FACING SONAR (FFS) – Garmin LiveScope Plus System Bundle: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- DOUBE STACK MOUNT – The Ultimate Double Stack: Buy at Beatdown
- FFS TURRET – RITE-HITE Turret: Buy at Amazon
- TROLLING MOTOR – Garmin Force Trolling Motor: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- BASS BOAT – NITRO Z21 XL: Check out at NITRO
- MOTOR – Mercury 250hp Pro XS: Check out at Mercury
- TOW VEHICLE – Toyota Tundra: Check out at Toyota