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Crankbait Modifications

By: Mark Romanack


Removing the belly hook on this Mag Lip 3.0 helps to keep the lure snag free when fishing rocky or wood laden waters.


Fishermen are a hard bunch to satisfy. No matter what a manufacturer does to improve their crankbaits for trolling and casting applications, chances are some fishing enthusiast is going to modify the bait further in hopes of triggering a few more bites.


A WORD OF CAUTION

When it comes to modifying crankbaits, I feel compelled to start with a word of caution. To get the best action from a crankbait requires a delicate balance (literally) of components. Switching out hooks for sizes much larger can and often does negatively influence the action of certain crankbaits because the modifications throw off the natural balance of the lure.

While some crankbaits can clearly be modified by installing larger hooks, it’s important to test the bait first with the factory hardware and hooks, then compare two baits side by side including one stock bait and one bait that has been modified. A little goes a long ways when it comes to adding larger hooks and weight to a crankbait.

A tip to consider when switching out treble hooks is to also add a second split ring. Using two split rings gives the hook more freedom of movement and makes it tougher for the fish to roll and twist free.


PREMIUM TREBLE HOOKS

The market is flooded with after-market treble hooks that are superior to the factory hooks supplied by most crankbait manufacturers. Wide bend style hooks such as the Eagle Claw Trokar TK310 is a good example of a special purpose hook that is designed to stick a fish and keep that fish stuck. Wide bend hooks are simply more difficult for fish to shake, making them a great addition to just about any crankbait design, model or size.


SINGLE HOOKS

While tons of guys are quick to put a larger treble hook on a crankbait, not many have discovered the value of using single hooks on crankbaits. The problem with treble hooks is one hook sticks the fish while the others provide a leverage point from which to tear the hook free. When a fish starts rolling and thrashing around, it’s pretty common for that treble hook to lose its’ bite. Bam, the fish is gone as quickly as it was hooked.

Single hooks on the other hand are more likely to stick and bite deeper than a treble hook. In part, this happens because single hooks are thinner in diameter than the wire used in most treble hooks.

If a single hook is rigged to a crankbait using a split ring and also a swivel, fish have a much tougher time twisting and tearing the hook free. Because the hook is free to rotate, no matter how hard the fish struggles, chances are the hook is going to retain its’ purchase.


Look closely, not only does this Mag Lip feature an after market wide bend hook, two split rings were used to attach the hook to the lure. The extra split ring give the hook more room to rotate without the fish being able to leverage the hook and tear free.


COLORED HOOKS

For about the last decade, the concept of using colored hooks on crankbaits has gained favor. Most manufacturers use either bronze, black or galvanized hooks on their baits. Switching these out for colored hooks adds a touch of color to the bait.

A number of anglers swear by using red hooks, saying that the red hook represents blood and potentially an injured baitfish. There is absolutely no good science that supports this theory, but then again there is no science that refutes it either. If using a red hook floats your boat, who am I to suggest otherwise?


ADDING WEIGHT

There are a number of products on the market designed to add weight to a crankbait. Soft lead adhesive strips that can be placed on the belly of the bait is a common way to additional weight to a crankbait. Often these strips are used to convert a floating crankbait into a neutrally buoyant bait.

Jerkbaits are the lures that are most commonly weighted to create a bait that sinks very slowly in the water. This feature allows the angler to keep the bait in the strike zone longer, compared to floating baits that quickly rise in the water when the retrieve is stopped.

A second way to add weight to a crankbait is to wrap thin lead wire around the shank of the treble hook. This trick is easy to accomplish and allows weight to be placed on the front, middle or back of the lure as conditions dictate. Playing with lead wire on the treble hooks, provides the opportunity to change the orientation of the bait in the water to nose up, nose down or horizontal.

A third option for weighting crankbaits are small weights that clip onto the treble hook shaft. Like tiny bell sinkers, these weights are easy to put on and take off, making it fast and simple to modify a bait.


LINE TYPE OPTIONS

Another way to influence the action of a crankbait is to use various different line types. Monofilament, fluorocarbon and co-polymer lines have a good degree of stretch. Fused lines and super braids have nearly zero stretch.

A line that stretches will act to deaden the action of a crankbait, while no-stretch lines tend to enhance action. In cold water, many anglers favor a line with stretch because the best fish catching action is typically something subtle. In warm water however, increasing a lure’s action by fishing it on no-stretch braid is a good option.

Line diameter also plays to lure action. Thicker lines detract from a crankbait action, while thinner lines allow the lure more freedom of movement in the water.


This “custom painted” Deep Husky Jerk was painted over a solid chrome body. Keeping paint layers to a minimum helps to keep crankbaits offering up a “lively” life-like action.


COLOR ME CRAZY

These days it’s very common for an angler to paint over the factory finish on a crankbait to create custom colors. Custom painting is so common these days, some common sense rules tend to get ignored.

While many don’t realize it, adding paint to a crankbait adds weight to that lure. Too many coats of paint and or clear coat can and does impact the action of a lure.

For those who insist on custom painting their baits, the best advice is to start with a lure that has no paint or a base coat of one solid finish. This minimizes the weight of the lure and makes it possible to add new finishes without impacting on the lure’s action.

Because crankbaits are painted in layers, choosing a lure with just one solid color insures that bait will not have several layers of paint already applied.


SUMMING IT UP

When it comes to modifying a crankbait, let common sense be your guide. Adding too much weight can be the kiss of death. Keep your modifications modest and chances are your crankbaits will be great fish catching machines.

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