Crankbait 101: Tight vs. Wide Wobble
By Ben Verhoef
A crankbait is one of the most effective tools for locating and catching active fish, especially here in the Ozarks. But with the wide variety of different crank baits on the market today, it can often be confusing as to which one you should use at certain times. While there are many variables that go into selecting the right crankbait for any given day, one of the most important features to take note of is the action. Selecting the crankbait with the right amount of wobble can be the difference between catching 20lbs or going home with a zero.
A simple way to determine what type of wobble the crank bait is going to have is to look at the bill and body of the bait. If the bait has a wide bill and a round shaped body then it is going to have a wide wobbling action. On the other hand, if the crankbait has a narrow or flat-sided body with a slender bill then it is going to have a tight wobbling action.
There are many different factors that go into determining which type of action will work best on any given day. One of the main factors that goes into my decision is the type of forage the bass are feeding on. For instance, Right now we are in the dead of winter on the Ozarks, so the two main sources of food are shad and crawfish. If I know that the bass are mainly feeding on shad then I will use a Rapala Shad Rap. The Shad Rap has a fast and tight wiggle that is perfect for imitating a fleeing shad in cold water. Tight wobbling crankbaits like the Shad Rap are notorious for catching bass in cold water, but there are also times in the winter when you want a crankbait with a wider wobble. Like I have mentioned in previous articles, the wide wobble comes into play when the bass are actively feeding on crawfish. A good crankbait to choose at this time would be a Storm Wiggle Wart. (See crawfish article for an in-depth explanation of the wiggle wart.)
Another factor that goes into selecting the right type of wobble is water temperature. While you want a tight wobble for shad-imitating baits in the wintertime, when water temps rise in the summer it’s a whole different story. In the summer and fall when the water temps are warm you want to go with a wide wobbling crank bait like a Strike King 6XD. The XD series of crank baits has a “big nasty” wobble action that tends to draw more strikes in warm water when the bass are more aggressive. Conversely, when water temps start to cool in the fall and you find deep shad eating fish that are not willing to hit the wide wobbling XD, a great option is to switch to a deep diver with a tighter wobble like a Norman Deep Little N. While the fish have grown accustomed to seeing the “big nasty” DD22s and 6XDs all summer long, the Deep Little N gives them a different and more realistic look for this time of the year.
Regardless of the time of year, both wide and tight wobbling crankbaits can be effective tools for locating and catching fish on the Lake of the Ozarks. If you can determine which type of action that the bass really want then you will be on your way to putting more fish in the boat.
For more tips, videos, articles, and daily fishing reports on the Lake of the Ozarks, make sure to check out bassingbob.com.