The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. Thanks for helping us do what we love.

Flat-Sided Cranking Smallmouth | A Jerkbait Alternative

A jerkbait typically comes to mind when considering prespawn smallmouth bass fishing, but subtle flat-sided crankbaits are a unique alternative. Wired2fish’s Kyle Peterson provides an in-depth look at crankbaits’ use when targeting smallmouth bass on rocky drop-offs and flats adjacent to their spawning grounds. Peterson details the unique benefits of a crankbait, key locations and conditions, and his preferred gear for the technique.

FEATURED TACKLE (retail links)

WHY USE A FLAT-SIDED CRANKBAIT

Peterson starts by showcasing the Rapala OG Deep Tiny crankbait, emphasizing its slower rise compared to beefier round-bodied balsa crankbaits such as squarebills. This feature allows anglers to pause the bait effectively, keeping it in the strike zone longer, similar to a suspending jerkbait. Add a few Suspend Strips to make it suspend or even slow sink. So why a crankbait over a jerkbait? A crankbait can effectively mimic a crawfish when fished across the bottom or baitfish when fished up. It’s a single-lure solution to bass feeding down or up; adjust your rod angle, retrieve speed, or switch to a shallower diving model based on what the fish want.

TACTICAL APPROACH TO STRUCTURE

Peterson uses this technique on glacial lakes with abundant rock and bottom transition zones. Key locations include structures with bottoms primarily comprised of rock and gravel. Main lake humps, shoreline breaks, points, and expansive flats are all likely spots. On this day, Peterson located the largest concentrations of bass on the steep edges adjacent to main lake structures. Dense prespawn concentrations like this are gold, as the bass tend to get competitive and eat.

Peterson concludes with intriguing insights into the adaptability of smallmouth bass and how changing up tactics with a crankbait can yield impressive results, especially when traditional lures like jerkbaits become less effective. As with any bait, overuse leads to bass conditioning. This video is a must-watch for anyone looking to add a practical and underutilized tactic to their arsenal.

BOAT SETUP