Enhancing crankbaits for panfish

The author displays a plump crappie that crushed a Strike King Bitsy Crank.

To alter the way his crankbait behaves in the water, Bernie Schultz adds lead Suspend Dots to the underside – fore and aft of the front hook hanger. This decreases buoyancy and slows the rate at which the bait rises when he pauses the retrieve.

Schultz also suggests replacing a standard rear treble with a feathered hook. Real feathers, not bucktail, create an enticingly lifelike action in the water.

“It’s an added teaser,” Schultz explained. “Feathers flare, so when you pause the bait it breathes. That flare can be all the difference (in drawing a strike).”

Crankbait hooks offer lots of room for adjustment and sizing is the first consideration. Most mini cranks come with small trebles to match the body profile, so you’ll rarely want to go any smaller than stock sizing. Upsizing your hooks might not be a bad idea if you’re into the big honker bluegill or slab crappie.

You may also consider trebles with a deeper bite (distance from bend to point) or round bend trebles if you’re experiencing too many shake-offs.

Bluegill guru Jeff Samsel offers this trick: “I often remove both trebles from the split rings and replace the back one with a slightly larger bait hook, with my favorite being a No. 6 Daiichi Bleeding Bait Octopus Wide. I started doing that for trout application in (Georgia) streams where only single-hook artificial lures are permitted and noticed that fish stay hooked better with the larger single hook than the tiny trebles. Additionally, the bait gets fouled on the line less frequently, and the fish are easier to unhook.”

About David A. Brown 142 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications.