Multi-species fisherman’s delight: the crankbait conundrum

When lure manufacturers began upgrading their hard baits 20 years ago they started a trend. New models began appearing, and colors started changing regularly.

One time, I got my hands on a deep-diving model with an ivory body and some orange curvy lines on the sides. That lure caught fish! It caught walleyes, pike, bass, and even lake trout. I had been given a couple samples to try, and when I lost them and went to purchase more, I couldn’t find any. I called my connection at the lure manufacturer and even sent a photo of the lure – back before you could easily email a jpeg – and they were out of production. After a couple of years, they had discontinued that model and color.

What!? How could that be? This was a fish-catching machine. I was sure there were others that had the same success as I, so why would the manufacturer quit making them? 

I have learned that the crankbait market fluctuates. Sure, you can still buy some of the original lures you have grown to love, but try to find it in that off-white body with a black back you acquired back in the1970s. Impossible.

Don’t get me wrong. These new hard lures are all phenomenal baits. I have caught countless bass, walleyes, and pike on the new models. But all these changes have created a crankbait conundrum for me. I might have reached a point where I might be taking only one crankbait with me each time I hit the water just to prove it’s not about how many you have, but about using the right one. 

Even my 14-year-old grandson has a box filled with crankbaits. I buy them for him on his birthday and Christmas. Sometimes he gives me back a few on my birthday. When you get on the water you wonder what color, what lip size, what body profile, and…what the heck am I doing with all these crankbaits?

Then you realize: I need them all. When I’m fishing smallmouth on Chequamegon Bay I want that silver-bodied lipless lure with the red nose or that tight wobbling crankbait in the spring craw color. When I’m chasing walleyes on Red Lake, you can bet I’ll be trolling a Berkley Flicker Shad or a jointed Rapala Deep Husky Jerk. You wouldn’t catch me on Lake Erie without a bucket full of Shad Raps. 

And, you can’t have just one color. You need two of every color just in case you go to replenish what you lost of that amazing color that attracted every fish in the lake. Only they don’t make them anymore. Now, they’re new and improved.

And you know what? They usually are an improvement. And you will find another great style, another great color, and another dozen or more each year that must be added to the box. Crankbaits are like potato chips. One or two might do, but it’s much better to just eat the whole bag.

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