Sep 10, 2015

Shallow Water Cranking For Fall Bass

By:Glenn Walker

A great way to target bass during the fall is a shallow running crankbait. They allow you to cover water quickly and mimic the shad that bass are feeding heavily on as they fatten up before winter. 

Many anglers will shy away from using a bait with two treble hooks in snag filled waters. However, by using the correct baits and proper gear, the chances of you getting hung up decrease, all while your chances of catching bass increase!

Some of the shallow water areas that I’ll use these shallow running crankbaits are the same areas many anglers will throw a spinnerbait through.  By changing things up, you’ll be giving those bass a look at something new.

Shallow running crankbaits appeal to bass over spinnerbaits because crankbaits look like the food they are eating.  By choosing the correct color combination, size and style of your crankbait, you can match the hatch to what the bass are eating at that time.

When fishing the Mississippi River, earlier in the year I use crawdad or bright colored baits to stand out in the muddy water. Since the fall time usually has clean water and they are engorging themselves on shad, I’ll use shad patterns this time of year.

Some of the shallow water cover that I employ a shallow running crankbait around include:

  • Rip rap:  As the water temps begin to dip, baitfish and bass will congregate around the rocks as it is slightly warmer than other areas.  Locating points or areas that have a current break will often position massive schools of bass.
  • Submerged laydown and stumps:  Bumping the bait off of these hard pieces of structure will provoke post cold front bass into striking.
  • Submerged Vegetation:  Running your crankbait over dying lily pads is a great way to cover these vast areas.
  • Boat Docks:  Locating docks that have other forms adjacent to them will likely yield the most bass.

The key when fishing any of these areas is to use shallow running baits that don’t dive deep enough to hang up on the cover, you just want the bait to make contact with the cover and then float slightly up to the surface.  Many times when your bait deflects off of that piece of wood is when you’ll get a bass to hit. 

Each shallow running crankbait has its own unique action and shines in a specific scenario, that is why it is important to try them out and see how they perform around each form of cover I outlined above.  As sometimes certain baits perform better around vegetation than others.  Some of my favorite shallow running crankbaits included:

  • Mann’s Baby 1-Minus
  • Rapala DT Fat 1 & 3
  • Rapala DT4
  • Spro Fat John
  • Storm Arashi
  • Strike King KVD 1.5

To help make precision casts in tight quarters and place your bait near the cover and not in it, I use the Wright & McGill S-Glass Cranking Rod that is 7’ length.  It is important when selecting a cranking rod that it has a nice soft tip, which helps keep the hooks from ripping out of a bass’s mouth.

When it comes to spooling your reel up for shallow cranking, I feel there are two options.  The first being monofilament.  Mono will help keep your bait from diving as deep, since it floats, so if you are waiting to run your bait over vegetation or numerous laydowns, mono would be a good choice.

Now if you need to get your bait slightly deeper to run parallel to a boat dock or around rip rap, then using Fluorocarbon is a good choice.  The nice thing with Fluorocarbon is that it is very abrasion resistant so it won’t get as nicked up when fishing it around the heavy cover.

My line choices for shallow cranking are either 15 lb. Seaguar Senshi mono or Inviz X Fluorocarbon.

Making multiple casts to your shallow water target is often needed to coax a bass into biting, so maintaining good boat control is crucial to being successful.  As I prowl the shallow water with my Minn Kota Fortrex Trolling motor, I am making as many casts as I can. When I find a key target, such as a big stump or laydown that extends all the way from shore out to deep water, I drop my Minn Kota Talons.  This way I remain in one spot and am able to make precise casts to that target multiple times.

This technique can work all year for you, but I predominately use it in the late summer and fall when the bass are up shallow feeding.  So now that I have put your nerves at ease, go grab some crankbaits and toss them around some shallow water cover for some great bass fishing!

Glenn has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos.  He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River.  Glenn's sponsors include:  Ducky Products, Humminbird, Jeff Belzer Chevy, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, The Rod Glove, TroKar, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits.  For more information check out or on Facebook at