Mention shallow water and heavy timber or lay-downs and you probably think about jigs, soft plastics, and spinnerbaits. While these proven producers are valuable shallow water tools, there is another technique that can be super productive, even when the others fail.
What I'm talking about is cranking. Cranking? Cranking??? Yep, cranking! There are 2 keys to success when cranking heavy cover: (1) Selecting the right bait, and (2) using the right presentation. Here are a few tips to help you load your livewell.
Selecting the right bait – first of all we need one that is relatively snag free for fishing around heavy cover. Lures that have high buoyancy will decrease your risk of hanging up and allow you to retrieve your lure successfully through some pretty thick wood. Some of my favorites include the Cotton Cordell Big-O (C78), Cotton Cordell Wiggle ‘O’ (CW01), and the Rebel Wee-R (F93 & M93). I often fish these baits in stained or muddy water so my favorite colors include Fire Tiger and Red Craw. When the water is below 60 degrees I lean heavily toward the Red Craw.
Using the right presentation – You must to be willing to put your crankbaits in the thick stuff where the big fish live. Whenever possible cast past the target so that the bait has a chance to achieve the proper depth and action by the time it gets to the strike zone. As the lure approaches the cover, simply pause and let it float up a bit, then resume your retrieve. You will have to fish the bait slowly and methodically around this wood to keep it from hanging up. This slow stop-and-go retrieve will allow you to walk the bait enticingly through some pretty messy junk.
Spool up with 17-pound test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon and you’re ready to go. Occasionally you will lose a lure, but they’ll make more!