flat-sided crankbaits

Flat-Sided Crankbaits for Cold-Water Bass


Flat-Sided Crankbaits for Cold-Water Bass

When the water is cold, subtle, flat-sided balsa crankbaits often excel for bass. The Original Shad Rap remains one of the best.

Flat-sided crankbaits are a highly effective lure for catching both smallmouth and largemouth bass. These baits work particularly well in water temperatures ranging from 42 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit. In this article, we will explore why flat-sided crankbaits are so effective in cold water and how to use them to catch more bass.

The Effectiveness of Flat-Sided Crankbaits in Cold Water

Flat-sided crankbaits are known for their ability to entice bass in cold-water conditions. These baits can be successful in water temperatures as low as 42 degrees and up to the low 50s. However, their effectiveness starts to diminish once the water temperature reaches around 54-55 degrees.

While the Shad Rap may still catch fish in warmer water, it truly shines in the temperature range of 42 to 52 degrees. This is the ideal time to fish with flat-sided crankbaits for bass. By using these baits during this temperature range, you can maximize your chances of success on the water.

The Slow Retrieve Technique

When fishing with flat-sided crankbaits in cold water, it’s important to use a slow retrieve technique. The key is to reel in the bait at a slow speed, barely moving it through the water. This slow retrieve mimics the natural movement of prey in cold water and entices bass to strike.

Occasionally, you can pause and let the bait sit in the water. This can often trigger bites, as the bass may be tracking the bait and pounce when it suddenly stops. In fact, about half of the bites in the morning mentioned in the video came when the bait was close to the boat and stopped.

Choosing the Right Size and Color

When selecting flat-sided crankbaits for bass fishing, it’s important to choose the right size and color. According to the angler in the video, the most productive sizes for this technique are number 5 and number 7. These sizes seem to be the sweet spot for enticing bass in cold water.

In terms of color, it’s best to choose baits that match the water conditions. In clear to slightly stained water, the flat-sided crankbait shines the brightest. Its subtle, silent movement is highly effective in these conditions. However, in dark or dirty water, other lure options may be more suitable.

Adding Suspended Strips for Buoyancy

To enhance the performance of flat-sided crankbaits in cold water, some anglers choose to add suspended strips to the bottom of the bait. This allows the bait to become neutrally buoyant, meaning it neither sinks nor floats. This can be achieved by using storm suspend strips.

By making the bait neutrally buoyant, it can hold in the water column and entice bass to strike. Other times, you may want the bait to have slight buoyancy, causing it to slowly float up when retrieved . It’s important to experiment with different buoyancy levels to see what works best in your fishing situation.

The Advantage of Silent Crankbaits

One of the key features of flat-sided crankbaits is their silent movement through the water. In cold water, bass are more sensitive to noise and prefer a subtle, quiet bait. The silent crankbait mimics the natural movement of prey and is less likely to spook the fish.

Many professional bass anglers exclusively throw flat-sided crankbaits in the early season of tournaments. The subtle sound and silent movement of these baits make them highly effective in clear to slightly stained water. They can be a secret weapon for catching bass in cold water conditions.

Less is More: The Subtle Sound of a Shad Rap

Some anglers may wonder why not use an Irish head wrap, which suspends, instead of a flat-sided crankbait. The answer lies in the effectiveness of the subtle sound that a shad rap makes in cold water. The almost imperceptible sound it produces is more appealing to bass in these conditions.

However, there are times when more is more. Plastic construction, rattle chambers, and neutrally buoyant features of Irish head wraps have their time and place. It’s important to understand the specific conditions and adjust your bait selection accordingly.


Flat-sided crankbaits are a highly effective lure for catching bass in cold water. Their silent movement, slow retrieve technique, and ability to mimic natural prey make them irresistible to bass. By choosing the right size, color, and adding suspended strips for buoyancy, you can increase your chances of success on the water.

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