Want to raise your your musky catching skills to the next level? Then become a crank bait "wizard". Musky pros like Joe Bucher, who wrote the book on these versatile baits will tell you that with a little imagination these seemingly straight-forward baits can literally create magic in the water.
To understand every subtle variation and possiblity of these lures takes both imagination, practice and of course time on the water; however I feel the quickest way to get better is to "force" yourself to fish with crankbaits only on your next excursion - NO MATTER THE TYPE OF LAKE, COVER, TIME OF THE YEAR, ETC,ETC.
Try to assemble a diverse group of floating, sinking and neutrally bouyant cranks and leave every thing else at home. Choose a lake that contains all types of cover, weeds, rocks and wood. As you begin casting to the various structural types you will notice that some of those floating lures rise faster or slower than the others and on others the shape or material of the diving bill protects the hooks from fouling in weed cover. Your now beginning to see the small differences that pros use to maximize their efectiveness and create the magic.
Look how that big Ernie bait rides more straight up and down than the others,protects the hooks and allows you to bump wood cover (a big trigger ) without getting hung up. That Floating depth raider looks awesome when you twitch, crank and twitch over those submergent weeds. Now you look for a sinking crank to get down to the top of that rock hump that tops off at 17'. You pin on a straight model sinking Shark and notice it has two leader connections.Your not sure which to use but try the lower connection and toss it out. WOW!, that thing gets down fast.Just by reeling it you notice an erractic, rolling glider action as it comes back to the boat. Your amazed at the action produced just by the reel.Now thats Magic!
Those are just a few examples of the verastilty of these types of baits. Last weeek I had a client try a floating Jammer crank on a very dark water lake. This thing has some very loud rattles and by ripping it down hard and letting it float back up like a jerk bait it produced two very nice muskies five minutes apart after everything else we tried in the same area had failed. My fellow Presque Isle area guide Forbes Taylor has caught so many muskies on his Floating Depth Raider with this violent retreive he nicknamed the lure "Gretzky".
By forcing yourself to use these lures in areas that would seem to call for a bucktail, surface lure, twitch bait or jerk bait you will discover what many of the top pros have. Namely, that crank baits can produce a better "trigger" action than many other types of musky baits. Think that you cant pitch a crank into high weeds without fouling it? Think again - With the right rod angle and gear ratio reel you can and you will catch more and bigger fish doing it. Forcing cranks into tight cover has been a pro secret for years. Practice it!
Have I made you more curious to learn every possibility of these "magic" lures? If the answer is yes then your on your way to becoming a crank bait "Wizard". I have only breifly touched on the ways these lures can make you a better musky fisherman. There are situations that call for fast and slow risers, fast and slow sinkers and ones that just hang in the water column. By learning when to use the right crank you can move to the next level of musky fishing in a hurry. Good luck and let me know if you have succes with any of the methods suggested.
Editors Note:Howie Meyer has over 35 years of experience in guiding his clients to fish in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Seven Islands Guide Service is located in Presque Isle Wisconsin near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To checkout Howies web site and fishing reports please visit http://www.sevenislandsguideservice.com.