Shallow Water Cranking for Fall Bass


A great way to target bass during the fall that allows you to cover water quickly and also mimic the shad that the bass are feeding heavily on as they fatten up before winter is a shallow running crankbait. 

Many anglers will shy away from using a bait with two treble hooks in snag filled waters: but by using the correct baits and proper gear, the chances of you getting hung up decrease, all while your chances of catching bass increase!

Some of the shallow water areas that I’ll use these shallow running crankbaits are the same areas many anglers will throw a spinnerbait through.  By changing things up, you’ll be giving those bass a look at something new.

What makes throwing a shallow running crankbait appealing to a bass over a spinnerbait is that a crankbait looks like the food they are eating.  By choosing the correct color combination, size and style of your crankbait, you can match the hatch to what the bass are eating at that time.

Some of the shallow water cover that I’ll employ a shallow running crankbait around include:

  • Rip rap:  As the water temps begin to dip, baitfish and bass will congregate around the rock as it will be slightly warmer than other areas.  Locating points or areas that have a current break will often position massive schools of bass.
  • Submerged laydown and stumps:  Bumping the bait off of these hard pieces of structure will provoke post cold front bass into striking.
  • Submerged Vegetation:  Running your crankbait over the dying lily pads is a great way to cover these vast areas.
  • Boat Docks:  Locating docks that have other forms adjacent to them will likely yield the most bass.

The key when fishing any of these areas is to use shallow running bait that doesn’t dive deep enough to hang up on the cover, you just want the bait to make contact with the cover and then float slightly up to the surface.  Many times when your bait deflects off of that piece of wood is when you’ll get a bass to hit. 

Each shallow running crankbait has its own unique action and shines in a specific scenario, that is why it is important to try them out and see how they perform around each form of cover I outlined above.  As sometimes certain baits perform better around vegetation than others.  Some of my favorite shallow running crankbaits included:

  • Mann’s Baby 1-Minus
  • Rapala DT Fat 1 & 3
  • Rapala DT4
  • Spro Fat John
  • Storm Arashi
  • Strike King KVD 1.5

One of the key pieces to crankbait fishing and the ability to land fish with a crankbait is having a rod that has a lot of give to it, so when a bass hits and runs the rod gives so the hooks won’t rip out of the fish’s mouth.  That is why I use the new Witch Doctor Tackle Kahuna custom S-Glass rod.  This rod utilizes a proprietary Graphite and S Glass construction and has been specifically developed for hardcore crankbait fisherman and features an ultra-thin diameter – resulting in a lightweight, powerful rod that can be fished all day. 

READ RELATED: Changing the Water Column with Lipless Crankbaits 

The graphite woven X pattern in the butt section adds power to the rod, while still maintaining a soft tip that is desired when anglers are fishing crankbaits and the moderate action tip was designed to launch your bait across a shallow flat.

When it comes to spooling your reel up for shallow cranking, I feel there are two options.  The first being monofilament.  Mono will help keep your bait from diving as deep, since it floats, so if you are waiting to run your bait over vegetation or numerous laydowns, mono would be a good choice.  Preferred Line Choice:  Seaguar Rippin’ Mono 12 or 15 lb test

Now if you need to get your bait slightly deeper to run parallel to a boat dock or around rip rap, then using Fluorocarbon is a good choice.  The nice thing with Fluorocarbon is, that it is very abrasion resistant so it won’t get as nicked up when fishing it around the heavy cover.  Preferred Line Choice:  Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon 12 or 15 lb test

Making multiple casts to your shallow water target is needed many times to get a bass into biting, so maintaining good boat control is crucial to being successful.  As I prowl the shallow water with my Minn Kota Ultrex Trolling motor, I’ll be making as many casts as I can, then when I find a key target such as a big stump or laydown that extends all the way from shore out to deep water, I’ll deploy my dual 12’ Minn Kota Talons.  This way I’ll remain in one spot and be able to make a precise cast to that target multiple times.

This technique can work all year for you, but I predominately use it in the late summer and fall when the bass are up shallow feeding.  So now that I have put your nerves at ease, go grab some crankbaits and toss them around some shallow water cover for some great bass fishing!.