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Crankbaits and Colors


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I am fairly new to smallmouth fishing as they were not in the rivers or lakes where I grew up, but since living in northern IL I have been really excited about catching them.   I have been fishing for them for a few years now, but I am still learning effective methods for consistent success.  My initial setup for smallmouth was using tubes and I often resort to tubes now.  However, I really enjoy throwing Rapala countdowns and Rapala DT-4s and DT-6s.  I have had fairly good success throwing DT-4s and DT-6s when I can get the lure to dive into the bottom around rocks and even bounce off the rocks.  I understand that not all river systems this would be ideal as the bottom contains moss, weeds, or too many snags.  This year I plan to introduce my go to large mouth crank bait, the Rapala countdown alongside the DT-4 and DT-6.  

I am curious what crankbaits others have had success with for smallmouths and what colors seem to work well.  I have always had excellent success for largemouths with white countdowns.  I plan to throw white and and some other countdown colors this year including some more nature colors in clearer water conditions.  For DT-4s and DT-6 I have used mainly crawfish colored lures.  I do have a couple white DT-4s that I plan to throw this year for the first time.  I use a typical medium spinning setup with Shimano reels and G-Loomis or ST Croix rods.  Thanks, Jay   

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A little history here. Long ago a lot of reports featured Mann's 1/4 oz One Minus, Autumn color.  Then the Lucky Craft Pointer became the rage.  That was replaced by the Swim Jig /swim bait combo.   Come summer buzz baits, preferably $$, will begin to show up along with the $$ Wopper Plopper.  For colors remember Buck sed, "If you have a favorite color use it." 

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12 hours ago, Mike G said:

Buck sed, "If you have a favorite color use it." 

Buck Perry 👍 The only thing I would add is to find a brand of crank bait you like and buy the different sizes. That way when you’re checking out an area if you’re not hitting bottom you can put the next bigger size on.Always good to have different tools to do each job. 

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I look forward to plucking those lost DT-4s and 6s out of log jams while kayaking. 🤭

On a serious note, careful on those depths. Squarebills and wake baits will get it done, as will swim jigs and spinnerbaits. Wouldn’t even consider tossing a long bill in our local rivers.

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I'll echo some of what was already said. Square bills that dive to 2-4 ft, maybe a bandit 200 if occasionally you know a hole your fishing is 6-8 feet deep. Definitely different sizes from 1.5 - 3 inches. Find a brand or brands you like. White, chartreuse/yellow/bright , bluegill/natural and maybe translucent is really all you need.  You really don't even need that much unless you're really into cranking.

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Thank you for all the replies.  I will try some square bill crank baits also as suggested.  I am learning as I go so thanks.  I look forward to the weather warming up this year and catching smallmouths.

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When fishing in faster waters I have been throwing tubes upstream and letting the current pull the bait downstream as I jig it on and off the bottom.   I have had some decent luck fishing this method.  I throw crankbaits when the water levels are down and the rivers are calmer.  
 

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The streams I fish locally are very rocky or have sand and gravel. I really don't have probs with vegetation any more. I guess that's due to the streams being cleaner than they were yrs ago when they would get algae choked. At any rate, I sometimes go to cranks that dig into  or bounce off of the sand and gravel when soft plastics on jigheads aren't doing the trick. They often save the day. The things I don't like about them are the  trebles which on occasion can do a number on a fishes mouth , etc. When I use them,  I go with the colors I have the most confidence in, based on water color and what few I have with me. I'll usually have a chartreuse, a more subdued color, and a white with a bit of orange in it. Like you I use them when the current is slower. That's my 2 cents worth.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was going to post a picture of a recent smallmouth caught with a DT4, but the size limit on this forum is quite restrictive.  I am active on several other hobby forums and I have never had an issue posting photos as the sites make posting unrestrictive and user friendly which I feel is great for members.   I am not sure the logic behind the restrictions?  I feel high quality pictures would be a definite plus to show off fish and scenery details that members would genuinely appreciate.   Posting pictures should be a simple unrestrictive process as it encourages participation on a forum.  Thanks again for the informative comments.  

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42 minutes ago, Jay said:

I was going to post a picture of a recent smallmouth caught with a DT4, but the size limit on this forum is quite restrictive.  I am active on several other hobby forums and I have never had an issue posting photos as the sites make posting unrestrictive and user friendly which I feel is great for members.   I am not sure the logic behind the restrictions?  I feel high quality pictures would be a definite plus to show off fish and scenery details that members would genuinely appreciate.   Posting pictures should be a simple unrestrictive process as it encourages participation on a forum.  Thanks again for the informative comments.  

If you are willing to pay for the extra storage that high resolution photos require, we might be able to accommodate you. A photo that is posted at the full resolution of the original takes up the same amount of space as over 100 photos that have been reduced with minimal difference in what it looks like on most screens. Many other sites automatically reduce the size of pictures for you. That isn’t an option with this software.

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Appreciate the replies.  In regards to the photos, I understand that it is a cost factor which is understandable to fit budgets.  Thanks for explaining that and I will try to learn how to attach photos with a link as mentioned above.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jay, I'm glad you are getting out. It wil take abit to get the nack for river Smallies, but worth the effort.

Once the IL restrictions are lifted, we will try to arrange for some get togethers and fishing outings again.

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Sounds great, I have tried throwing Rapala DT 4 crank baits recently, but with the rivers running fairly fast I am finding that throwing a tube up stream and jigging on and off the bottom as the current pulls the tube down stream is a better technique for higher water levels.

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