Numbers are everywhere in the world, even in bass fishing. Finding the right depths to target, gear ratios, line sizes, diving depths, waypoints and more all make up part of the numerical puzzle.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Card pays attention to all of these, especially when the crankbait bite starts to heat up from the post-spawn into the dog days of summer. Three of his favorite numbers are 2, 3, and 4, which correspond to three of his favorite crankbaits this time of year.
Shallow Cranking and the Shad Spawn with the Duel Hardcore 2+
Immediately after the bass spawn, the shad are just about to take their turn and Card relies on a shallow crankbait to catch bass feeding on the shad.
“The 2+ tops out at around five-feet and that is where the shad spawn is happening; less than five feet,” said Card, who says his main goal is to deflect the crankbait off of something hard that the shad use to spawn.
He’ll look for riprap, bridges, floating docks, standing docks, and wood.
“I start by looking for bird activity or anywhere where the wind has been blowing for a few days since this helps to congregate the shad. Then, I am looking for any hard cover or structure the shad used to spawn, and since the main thing is to trigger a reaction by hitting that bait against something,” added Card.
Card cycles through three colors in these instances and said these three would also be the same that he uses all summer long as the bass continue to get in deeper water.
“Gizzard Shad is my first choice, but I’ll use Citrus Shad in a little dirtier water. If the water is really clear, the translucent Shad color works great,” he added.
Card fishes the 2+ on a 7’ medium Abu Garcia Veritas rod paired with a 6.6:1 Revo STX spooled with 12-pound Yo-Zuri TopKnot fluorocarbon.
The Mid Range with the Duel Hardcore 3+
Once the shad spawn wraps up and the bass push to deeper water, Card focuses on the mid-range depths.
“The 3+ will get down to about 12-feet. It is the perfect choice for that ten to twelve feet of water when the bass start to gravitate to those high spots off the bank,” he said.
Mainly, he’s looking for places with rock, shell beds, or brush. This could be on the top of bars or shallow humps, but the key is the depth.
“The mid-range depth is a stopping point for fish that are done spawning and not quite in the summer pattern. A lot of times, the best spots are at the mouths of creeks and places just outside of where they spawned,” said the Tennessee pro.
He’ll upsize his rod to a 7’6” medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veritas Winch but utilizes the same reel and line for this deeper diving crankbait.
Going Deep with the Duel Hardcore 4+
As bass continue to head out to deeper water, Card reaches for the Duel Hardcore 4+ that he says hits depths of up to 16-feet of water.
“This is a more offshore bait for me and I target humps, points with a deep drop. The 13- to 16-foot zone is a great place to throw this crankbait,” Card says.
He sticks with the same line and reel for the bigger crankbait but again ups his rod. His choice for the 4+ is the 7’11” heavy Abu Garcia Veritas Winch.
Bass Positions and Deciding Between Baits
When deciding between the 3+ or 4+, Card looks for clues in the form of baitfish activity.
“I spend a lot of time idling this time of year looking for baitfish on my Lowrance units and watching my Navionics mapping to find likely areas. For me, I like StructureScan to find baitfish because I think the balls of bait show up better and you can find them pretty quickly,” he said. “Finding the depth zone, they are in is crucial and helps me decide between different crankbaits.”
When deep-cranking in a lake with current, Card has learned that bass position themselves in a certain way more times than not.
“On those offshore places, they tend to sit on the upriver side of a point or ledge. That is always going to be the first place I am going to try,” Card shared. “The exception is if there is any flooding and extreme current, they will sit more on the backsides of the structure.”
Numbers make the world go round and even in bass fishing; it pays to pay attention to them as they can be the difference between an average day and a great one. The Duel Hardcore 2+, 3+, and 4+ are three baits that Brandon Card relies on when the water warms up and he pays close attention to depths to pick the right one for the job.