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Gussy’s Shallow Diving Crankbait Strategy for Smallmouth Bass

Shallow water crankbaiting smallmouth bass? Bassmaster Elite Series angler Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson shows that locking a shallow-diving crankbait in your hand can be one of the most effective ways to cover water and catch not only smallmouth and largemouth bass, but pike and walleye too.


A technique that Gussy commonly uses throughout the tournament season, launching a crankbait around is an extremely efficient way to cover as much water as possible. Gussy talks about how important that is, especially when only having a few days to find fish in practice. Instead of using a slower finesse approach, he uses crankbaits to locate bass in an area, pick off the aggressive ones, and then come back through with a more subtle presentation.

Specific to smallmouth, Gussy says that deflecting off cover is not always the best way to get bites. In most places around the country, smallmouth tend to “feed up” in the water column. By choosing a crankbait that does not reach the bottom, you can keep the bait in the desired strike zone of those brown bass. Choosing the correct rod is a key part of this setup. Gussy prefers a little bit longer rod (7’6″) and a soft tip, which allows you to make long casts to cover water while the limberness of the rod gives you shock absorption during the fish fight.