The squarebill crankbait is one of the most written about and popular bass fishing baits on the market. Somehow they still catch fish and and companies are still finding ways to tweak the design to this day. That's something that really excites me personally because I love to throw one. Squarebill fishing gets up-close and personal with big bass in shallow water which is right where I want to be.
It's more finesse than some of the other baits I would use in a similar situation like a spinnerbait, buzzbait or ChatterBait but it's also obviously a lot closer to power fishing than a shaky head. So a squarebill gives me something I can power fish with on a fish's most aggressive day, while still providing a bait that can be used to unlock their jaws in a high-pressure situation.
Anytime I get to review a squarebill, it's an easy task. I know what I like and I know what I'm looking for. But still, every now and then a little something will surprise me. That's what happened with one feature of the Ark CT35 Squarebill. But we'll get to that in a minute.
For starters, the Ark CT35 Squarebill Crankbait passed one test with flying colors. I really like Mustad Triple Grips, which the CT35 comes with, or a similar style hook on lipless crankbaits and squarebills. The inward-facing point does a fantastic job of locking into a fish and rarely letting go without the needle nose pliers becoming involved. They also don't seem to hang as much cover as round bend hooks. But there's another thing I think these hooks do, which is why I like them for these two baits in particular.
I think hooks built this way with the hook point turned in a bit allow the fish to get the bait better. By that I mean the fish are able to inhale the whole bait without the hooks being as likely to hook them on the way in. With round bend hooks, there's more of a chance of one of those hook points going into the fish before the hookset. Though that does still happen sometimes with Triple Grips and other similar hooks.
The fish aren't always going to try to swallow the bait and instead just swipe at it and get foul hooked or hooked in the lip at times. But, in my experience, more often than with round bend hooks, fish do get an entire squarebill or lipless crank into their mouth more with Triple Grips and that makes them far less likely to throw the bait on the fight where they would have otherwise had a good bit of leverage with the bait outside their mouths.
A good size and another
The squarebill that I tested out, the CT35, has a big brother in the CT57. Identical in design with the exception of being 65mm long in comparison to the CT35 at 55mm. I like both sizes of these cranks but in particular the smaller one that I sampled. For comparison sake, it's 1/8-inch smaller than a Strike King 1.5 which many anglers are familiar with. Where the CT57 is 1/4-inch larger.
These two sizes give you a good many options with where and how you can target fish. The larger CT57 dives 5 to 7 feet where the CT35 dives 3 to 5 feet. And although 3/8 inch probably doesn't sound like much, on this small of a scale that makes the CT35 15% smaller than the CT57. That's a big drop when you're already talking about a fairly small bait in the CT57.
The reasons I like the smaller CT35 versus a larger squarebill, I can fish it shallower and it gets bit more when the bite is tough. Like I stated at the onset, I think of a squarebill at times as power fishing's version of a shaky head. So I'll go to it when the fish aren't quite aggressive enough to commit to a big double Colorado spinnerbait in muddy water for instance. If I feel a couple fish swipe at my spinnerbait or if I've been through an area with a blade that I know I should have gotten bit but didn't, that's when I'll go to a smaller squarebill like the CT35 and usually catch a few fish.
The thing I like most
But the thing I like most about the CT35 is that it packs a huge punch in the casting department for its size. I first caught wind of the Ark lineup of hard baits last fall. What I've found now in having used several of their baits for a while, Ark does a fantastic job of putting a well designed bait out with great components for a very competitive price.
I reviewed the Ark Mini Diver a little while back and that's when I first realized Ark was incorporating a weight transfer system into their baits. The Mini Diver is also a small bait and one I didn't expect to be able to throw all that far. But as soon as I loaded the bait up in the backcast and heard the little metal ball inside of it detach from the magnet and click as it loaded up into the tail of the bait, I knew I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
See, I've used other baits like this in the past with a weight transfer system. Baits that would otherwise be very difficult to throw but instead sail through the air with minimal effort. The main difference between those baits and the Ark Mini Diver and CT35? The price points. Most of those other baits retail for around $20. These two from Ark come in at $5 and $8 respectively. That's a lot of design and build for those prices.
I left this for the end because I wanted to be able to talk about the weight transfer system first. Because I believe that may very well be what's making the noise inside the CT35 but I'm not totally sure. What I do know is that this bait gives off a rather unique, somewhat quieter sound. It's almost like a one knocker-style bait with just one weight knocking back and forth but it's not as hard of a sound.
That's why I think it may be the magnetic weight transfer system allowing the ball to rock back and forth just a little. Either way, it sounded to me like something that would make it even better for those high pressure days when the bite is tough. And I have at least proven that theory once already on a trip to Lake Eufaula in south Alabama. After a tough day of fishing with my dad where we caught only 8 fish between us in 10 hours of fishing, I pulled this bait out on the muddy riprap near the ramp and caught two nice fish in about 15 casts before we left.
That really opened my eyes to how special this bait could be. I look forward to those tough days now to see if I can use this bait again to unlock their unwilling jaws and further my theory. But for now, color me impressed by the Ark CT35 Squarebill. I'd suggest you try one yourself.