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Crankbait Tuning Tips

By Russ Bassdozer

Some tune better than others. Did you know that out of a dozen all the same model of cranks, they will all not catch fish equally? Some will work better, some worse. This applies more to wooden cranks than plastic cranks.

Why? It's the wood. A good luremaker can pick his woods carefully, and not use pieces that don't make the grade either because of flaws, inconsistencies, etc. But even hand-picked, different pieces of wood are of different density or quality, and both buoyancy and action change. And for those cranks mass-produced out-of-country with cheap labor, there's even more variability in the quality of wood and therefore crankbait action.

Wood varies in weight no matter how careful you are when you select it. Plastic weight and density does not vary as much. Usually, the plastic formulation will be the same all of the time. Also, the paint applied to wooden baits is usually thicker than on plastic baits, and even an unnoticable build-up of thick paint at the wrong spot on a wooden crank can affect its "tune."

There are some awesome wooden cranks on the market today. Even still, if you buy a dozen wooden lures, you'll get 2-3 that are hard to tune, 2-3 that will become your favorites, and about half dozen others that will produce average results. Problem is, you will not know which ones are good, average, or not as good - unless you take the time to fish all twelve. I'm not really criticizing wood baits, because if you do fish through a whole bunch of them and separate the wheat from the chaff, then you can stock your crankbait box exclusively with those few special ones that are the superior wooden producers.

Plastic cranks are not without their problems either. Again, you will find some champs and dogs among identical-looking plastic cranks too. You have to keep an eye on whether the two halves of the plastic body were glued together to perfectly match, and that the glue did not run. But you can usually spot the plastics that have mismatched halves and excess glue.

Usually, plastic baits can be molded to more precise tolerances than wood, thereby making plastics perform more consistently from bait to bait. This is particularly true of plastic baits with "uni-body" lips, and that have stainless wire line-tie eyes and hook hangers molded into them, as opposed to screw eyes and lips that are added to the bait as a later step in the manufacturing process. When you start screwing and gluing stuff into the body "blank", if you are even a fraction of an inch off with the lip or the line-tie eye, the action of the plug is altered tremendously.

Again, plastic cranks mass-produced out-of-country are prone to have lower quality control than others. This does not mean solely foreign companies, as some American companies also have assembly plants out-of-country to lower costs - but it can also lower quality and consistency of crankbait action due to small inconsistencies in the assembly process. On the other hand, some Japanese companies have high quality manufacturing controls for producing their plastic cranks, but you obviously pay more for that.

Keep cranks running straight and true.

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