Shallow Crankbait Tips  For Fall

With the weather cooling down and less people around, the fall is my favorite season to fish shallow crankbaits.

Most fish, including bass, walleye, trout and crappie, eat aggressively at this time of the year, in order to gain weight for the coming winter months.

So when the days start to become shorter and the nights get cooler, this is a great time to take advantage of shallow crankbaits to catch fish that are actively feeding in the shallows.

Photo of shallow diving crankbait
Shallow diving crankbaits are extremely effective in the fall

Why fall is such a great time for shallow cranking 

Predatory fish may be caught considerably more shallow in the fall because they follow baitfish into shallow areas close to cover.

So when most fishermen are avoiding this kind of bait and presentation, I find that shallow running crankbaits that are fished between 1 and 6 feet below the surface can really pay off with some excellent fall catches.

Shallow crankbaits resemble minnows or tiny fish have the correct amount of wiggle, mass, and buoyancy, and when fished slowly and with brief pauses close to cover, they can be extremely effective at triggering bites.

These baits may also be used when fish are suspended over brush, weeds, or tree tops in deeper water. Since you can keep shallow running crankbaits in the proper strike zone for a longer period of time, they are highly effective.

Fish your shallow crankbait close to cover 

Don’t make the error of avoiding cover like areas with stumps. I found that using this strategy in stained waters can be more effective.

Although throwing to visible fish may sometimes be successful, shallow cranking is more effective when covering lots of ground close to cover.

So don’t forget to look for and fish around things like shallow stumps, brushpiles, rockpiles, and areas where weeds are submerged.

The best techniques for fishing shallow crankbaits

Regarding presentation, aim to throw beyond the target whenever you can so the bait has a chance to get the right depth and action before it reaches the striking zone.

When fishing near cover, you want your bait to be sufficiently buoyant so that it will float up over logs when you stop reeling in, enabling you to effectively reel in your lure through some fairly dense timber.

The chance of snagging or hanging up is reduced compared to round lip or pointed lip crankbaits because the more squared lip baits bounce off cover when they make contact with it.

Some times, deflecting your crankbait off timber or rocks can be highly effective at triggering strikes from any bass that may be following your crankbait through shallow water.

If you find that your crankbait is getting snagged a lot, experiment with letting your crankbait float up a little as it reaches the cover, and then gently continue your retrieve as you fish around the timber and brush to prevent it from hanging up.

Apart from letting you walk your crankbait through cover, this leisurely stop-and-go retrieve also adds some strike-triggering appeal.

Fall shallow cranking tips 

For fall shallow cranking, shad patterns and a few other chartreuse patterns are often  the most effective colors. In addition, Fire Tiger and different shades of Crawdad have also been successful for me when fishing in stained waters.

Photo of crawdad colored shallow crankbait
Crawdad colored shallow crankbaits are great in stained water during the fall

Also, you may find that downsizing works better in the early fall to match the local bait fish. Return later to larger-bodied baits that mimic shad near the banks.

If you find that the action is sluggish on the main lake in the fall, fish the backs of streams and shallow flats nearby that have cover such as stumps, bushes, and boulders.

Every temperature or weather change in September can result in greater activity, and so pay attention to the weather report, and track any changes in temperature.

Final remarks 

In conclusion, while topwater lures, swimbaits and soft jerk baits are not to be overlooked during the fall, you may find that if you give shallow crankbaits a go at this time of the year, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how effective and adaptable they are. I catch more walleye on shallow crankbaits than on jigs at this time of the year.

Another thing that I love about fall shallow crankbait fishing is that it works very well for shore fishing. In fact, some highly productive fishing spots that are not accessible by boat can be fished from the bank, so make sure not to overlook bank fishing in fall.

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