When it comes to crankbaits I have an admission to make; they had been extremely under-utilized in my boat up until a few years ago. This was especially true in Summer time. Crankbaits were something I used to troll when my hands were too cold for casting in late Fall, or maybe I’d drag one behind the boat for a few minutes while I ate a sandwich in the middle of the day. Now I have a one of these deep divers hooked up to a rod at almost all times throughout Summer and Fall. While some baits will go through hot streaks and produce at high rates during patterns where fish are primed and on the hunt, crankbaits will steadily rack up catches throughout the year and reach active fish that other baits will not contact.
When fishing with crankbaits you will want to choose the right tool for whatever job you are performing that particular day. In the lakes that I guide in Minnesota, high angling pressure and intricate weedlines call for precision bait presentation and casting is the right application. When I am casting crankbaits there is one that stands above all others and that is the Triple D. This bait has more of a rounded profile which helps when you send it flying through the air. Baits like the Grandma and Jake that have flat sides and more defined edges will sometimes shoot over to one side or the other when hurled out on the cast. These baits are fantastic for trolling and can be casted, but when it comes to pin-point accuracy, the Triple D is unmatched in my opinion. These baits are built tough, right down to the triple split rings that attach the hooks, this is an important attribute when you consider the abuse these baits can go through. Whether you are bouncing them off of rocks or ripping them through weeds you can be sure that they are getting some attention down deep with their great side to side wobble.
As Summer gets cooking, a lot my focus moves to main lake spots like humps, points, and deep weedlines that dump into the main lake basin. Fish can become predictable as water temps plateau but sometimes it’s easy for anglers to get stuck in a rut throwing the same baits. Many of us will throw large bucktails when fish are active in Summer and move to big rubber when the going gets a little tougher. Sometimes I break things down something like this; active fish chase horizontally presented baits, and neutral fish can be coaxed to eat vertical/falling baits. This isn’t a bad thought process, but sometimes the fish need to see something aggressive and fast down in the depths. This is where the Triple D comes into play in my boat. As water surface temps soar in Summer time, muskies prefer to stay down a little deeper in cooler water. They are still very active with their feeding schedules, but sometimes the more conventional Summer time presentations don’t get them wound up enough to eat. This is where cranking down with some serious speed, erratic rips, or even bouncing bottom just off the weedline can get some serious strikes.
This played out perfectly last Summer as I had two new clients in my boat. We had tried a few different baits throughout late afternoon and the only fish we had raised came on a Triple D that I had been occasionally tossing off the backside of the boat. As the clock moved into prime time, we decided to get both clients cranking down in and out of a spotty weedline. They were following my instructions to bomb their casts out and crank down quickly until they felt bottom or weeds. I would watch as they would get a little excited the first time the lip of their Triple D would nose down to the sand and gravel. They were doing a great job of letting up just a touch and then gunning the reel again to stay right near bottom and making occasional contact. They were not ripping the rod at all but keeping the rod tip pointed at the bait so once they felt a strike they could get a full hook set across their body. Well, that’s exactly what happened next… John’s bait was the first to get crushed. He had what he described as a bone jarring strike at the end of his line. A great battle ensued, and we were soon taking pictures of a beautiful 44” musky. After the excitement of the nice catch I was just getting the boat back on course when I heard John’s son Connor scream “I got one!!” and sure enough he did. He executed his retrieve perfectly and was rewarded with a stout 42” fish. These fish were down low in their preferred water temperature and were not interested in a slow rolled bucktail or a rise and fall presentation. They came unglued however, when we got right in their face with a fast moving, baitfish shaped lure that was making contact with the structure they were holding to. We did not pioneer any new musky catching tactics this evening but we did instill faith in a section of the tackle box that can be largely over-looked in the heat of the Summer. So keep the Triple D’s ready to go during the warmer months, and happy cranking to you!
by Ryan McMahon