Not too many fall days go by that someone doesn’t ask what they are doing wrong and what crankbait color they should have been using. The fact of the matter is “hot colors” seem to change and disappear as quickly as dreams of winning the Powerball.
One thing that you can do to right away to make yourself a more productive angler is regularly checking and tuning your crankbaits. Not many aspects of fishing have such as short learning curve and can instantly improve your results.
Identifying The Problem
In my years as a guide, I have seen many things that make me chuckle. A frequent occurrence is seeing large charter boats with a half dozen lures skipping across the surface a football field’s length behind their boat due to poorly tuned baits.
A foul-running lure can tangle an adjacent line very easily. This is particularly a problem when they are trolled at similar depths, but also plays havoc with baits trolled at various depths. While these are extreme cases, they have about the same effect as a slightly out of tune crankbait; they just don’t catch fish.
This is a big problem, in my opinion. The error causes anglers to blame or change other factors such as depth, speed or possibly even location when the real issue is the lure itself. In many cases it’s simply because the bait isn’t running at the level you think it is. The “Kite Effect” occurs when the lure glides slightly left and right causing the depth and action to vary.
Action Vs Tuning
Erratic action is often good and shouldn’t be confused with an out of tune crankbait. Those with a drop-tail, such as a Reef Runner, tend to “hunt”, occasionally kicking out to the side or seemingly not doing the same thing twice. Because of that you need to take an extra few seconds to check the action before rushing a line back out. You don’t want a lure that runs okay at best; you want it “super tuned”.
It can be easily accomplished by dropping the lure over the side of the boat with a rod’s length of line out. In dirtier water, less line is ideal to visually inspect its action. Simply pull the lure forward a few times to determine consistency. I like to test the lure on both sides of the boat to eliminate any factors the boat may create.
Testing lures on either side of the boat will help eliminate any action imparted on the bait by the boat.
A “super tuned” crankbait will pull straight down like it has a bowling ball attached to it. The correct action can be acquired by using a pair of needle-nose pliers or the Reef Runner tuning tool. Place it directly over the lures eye—not the split ring—and apply gentle pressure on the eye away from the side on which it is kicking out.
If you feel that you bent the eye, you probably adjusted it too much—less is more. At the same time, be careful not to twist the small wire eye itself, rather bend it perpendicular to the lure. This process definitely sounds more difficult than it is.
Following each catch, take a few seconds to recheck how the lure runs. Funny things tend to happen to baits in the net or after a big fish thrash it around for a hundred feet. Also picking up a fish by the lure is another way to almost certainly negatively impact its action.
By taking the extra time to test and correct crankbaits as often as possible will keep them in the strike zone longer, meaning more bites. The little details pay big dividends.
Very few baits run perfectly out of the box, plus it’s a good habit to constantly verify each lure’s correct action before dropping a line behind the boat. By understanding that each one produces a unique action when tuned correctly, they will attract more fish and convert them into bites. Paying close attention to a small detail like this will result in big fish hitting the net.
To learn more about Robertson’s monster fall-walleye pursuits, visit Big Water Guide Service.