Squarebill crankbaits are one of the best shallow-water bite producers of all time, right up there with spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs depending on the day. These three baits are likely responsible for over half the bass ever caught in 5 feet of water of less. They can all be used to cover more water than soft plastics and jigs and bass don’t have to be quite as aggressive to eat one of these three as they would to break the surface on a topwater.
So having a quality go-to squarebill in your arsenal is essential. We’re going to look at one of these baits and see if it makes the cut in a bait genre that seems to be overflowing with options at times.
The Hardcore Crankbait SR 65 is a good-looking bait
This crankbait is a little wider than many squarebills, has a sturdy bill and beefy components for hook hangers, split rings and treble hooks. Typically with a squarebill, I prefer EWG (extra wide gap) trebles, but the round-bend hooks Hardcore went with here are stout, sturdy and sharp. So that’s not a deal breaker by any means.
The color selection is strong as well, with everything from chartreuse to red and natural shad colors to bream imitators, as well as a couple colors that could even favor crawfish when they have more of a greenish brown tint to them. So just taking this bait out of the pack and holding it in your hand, there’s a lot to like. But it’s when you tie it on and go to make that first cast that you realize what sets it apart.
Magnetic weight transfer system
I just love it when I tie on a bait, go to make that first cast and hear a sharp click in the back cast. This indicates to me immediately that the bait I’m throwing has a weight transfer system to aid in casting. The way this works is there’s a chamber within the bait where a small metal ball is able to roll from the belly of the bait to the tail, to help the bait cast tail first and avoid tumbling through the air.
Often, like in the case of the SR 65, there’s a magnet in the belly to hold the weight in the optimal position during the retrieve, to where the bait has the best action possible. The clicking sound you hear in the back cast when fishing with this lure is the ball releasing from the magnet and loading up in the tail. Then when the bait hits the water, the ball rolls forward and locks back in on the magnet as you start to reel the bait in.
Hardcore claims this increases the casting distance of the SR 65 by 30% compared to other squarebills that don’t have a magnetic weight transfer system. I believe that’s a reasonable estimate and would definitely stand by it in situations with strong head winds.
The SR 65 has a wide wobbling, rolling action. This gives the two-tone color choices of this bait a lot of flash. Take the chartreuse and black back for instance. From a fish’s perspective, it will see the chartreuse side and then the black back as the bait rocks and rolls back and forth. This flash makes the bait easier for the bass to see and track in stained to muddy water.
This is also a really buoyant squarebill, which makes it a great option for fishing around cover like rocks, wood and grass. When you fish a squarebill around cover, it’s going to hunt and dig into some pretty tight spots. That’s what you want it to do. But in doing this, there will be times when the bait tries to hang. If you pay particularly close attention and develop a feel for the bait, you’ll get to where you can easily detect a bite versus the bait beginning to hang.
Then, instead of setting the hook on a piece of wood or snatching the bait down into a crevice between the rocks, you can pause the reel and stick your rod out to towards the bait and a buoyant squarebill like the SR 65 will actually backup a bit and float over the obstruction without hanging. Then you can restart your retrieve and that’s often when your bait will get slammed by a bass. Whereas you would miss that bite entirely with another bait, because you’d be going to get it un-snagged.
The bottom line
The Hardcore Crankbait SR 65 is a little pricier than some at $9.99, but still half what you’d see on the price tag of a lot of the “high-end” squarebills, while still offering the most important high-end feature a bait like this can have in my opinion— the magnetic weight transfer system. That weight transfer system alone makes this bait worth the price, not to mention it has a lot of the other components that make up a good squarebill as well.
With plenty of colors to choose from, solid components and a nice rolling action, the SR 65 is a solid squarebill. Adding the bait’s buoyancy to the equation, this is a pretty sweet little fishing lure, worth checking out if you’re in the market for a good shallow running crankbait.