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Product Reviews: Crankbaits

By Russ Bassdozer

Bandit Lures Series 100, 200 and 300 Crankbaits
Series 100. 2". 1/4 oz. Series 200. 2". 1/4 oz. Series 300. 2". 3/8 oz.

I don't believe Bandit Lures have been on the market for too many years, at least not that I am aware. In the last few years, they've become popular because they catch fish and are affordable.

Series 100 (top in photo) runs 2-5 feet deep. Series200 (middle) runs 4-8 feet deep. Series 300 (bottom) runs 8-12 feet deep.

Bandits are all fast risers. When the retrieve is paused, they begin to rise tail first, making them good choices for pulling through wood and weeds. Just pause to let them float out and over snaggy areas, then begin the retrieve again. Don't be surprised to get hit on the rise, or even when the crankbait pops to the surface and floats on top, it will still attract strikes.

Bassdozer Shallow, Medium, Deep and Super Deep Crankbaits
Shallow. 2". 5/16 oz. Medium. 2". 3/8 oz. Deep. 2-3/4". 1/2 oz. Super Deep. 3". 7/8 oz.

With four models, there's a Bassdozer crankbait to cover most any type of cranking situation you may encounter.

The four sizes effectively cover the entire water column from shallow to medium to deep to super deep:

The Shallow Diver (top in photo) runs 1-4 ft deep. This square-lipped shallow runner works best with a slow to medium retrieve. It has a light rattle. If desired, upsize the rear hook to a #4, which does not affect the action.

The Medium (second from top) dives 5-8 feet, which is the crankbait depth range that is useful most of the time. It has a high-pitched rattle.

The Bassdozer Deep Diver (third from top) can reach 9-12 feet deep and has the loudest rattles of the four models.

The Super Deep Diver (bottom) is one of only a few crankbaits that can get super deep into the 13 to 15 foot range. It has a little less chatter, more like a drum beat to its rattle.
Lucky Craft Crankbaits
Lucky Craft offers no less than 26 lipped cranks to North American anglers.

I've written an exhaustive  twenty page product review on Lucky Craft lures including topwaters, jerkbaits, lipped crankbaits and lipless rattlebaits. Click here to read My Lucky-est Choices.

Norman DD22, DD14 and Deep Little N Crankbaits
DD22. 3". 5/8 oz. DD14. 3". 5/8 oz. Deep Little N. 2-1/2". 3/8 oz.

The photo shows my three favorite Norman crankbaits.

DD22 (top in photo) runs 15-18 feet deep. DD14 (middle) runs 12-14 feet deep. Deep Little N (bottom) runs 9-12 feet.

Probably among the most widely-known and well-respected crankbaits of today, there is little more I can add here about these steady bass producers except to say, "Use more Normans more often."

SPRO Crank 25
SPRO Crank 25. Body length: 2-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 1/3 ounce. Gamakatsu EWG Trebles. Depth: 3-6 feet.

I evaluate and compare dozens of different crankbaits every season. The preliminary part of this analysis is performed in a test pool where I and other expert anglers serve as critical clinical judges. In the pool, I can discover the intimate details of crankbaits - uncover exactly how they move, sound, look, act. The pool is merely preparation for the final exam. The final conclusive research takes place on the water. There the fish serve as the ultimate judges of which crankbaits work best.

From the very first test-swim (over four years ago), the SPRO Crank 25 immediately impressed me. It still impresses me each time I use it, and shallow water bass keep on "judging" it as one of their favorite crankbaits too.

At 2-1/2 inches (excluding the lip) and 1/3 of an ounce, it's great for the lighter side of cranking - no more than 10 lb. test line. It swims at depths of 3-6 feet. It makes two sounds at once - a chattering sound from light glass balls in an internal chamber plus a second heavy knocking sound from two hefty metal balls in another chamber. It has those awesome Gamakatsu EWG treble hooks that hold fish tight.

It has a profile and shape that reminds me of a sunfish, and that's how I mainly like to use it. I like to throw it into shallow cover spots and work it like a hapless sunnie begging for trouble. But as with many good lures, the SPRO Crank 25 has that elusive, amorphous form that can appear like a shad, a crawfish or most any other critter eaten by a bass.

Test-swim the SPRO Crank 25 yourself in clear water. You will instantly see the lifelike swimming motion that makes the SPRO Crank 25 such an awesome fish-fooler.

You can go at a slow or normal pace with the SPRO Crank 25, and it swims exceedingly well. In addition, you can speed up the retrieve with no problem. At the top end, it is very stable and smooth. The SPRO Crank 25's great performance at fast retrieve speeds is a definite advantage this crankbait has over others. Sometimes bass just have that "need for speed" in order to make them bite.

In summary, the SPRO Crank 25 has one of the most impressive lifelike swimming motions that I've seen on the market.

It can be retrieved at any speed from slow to fast and it keeps its attractive swimming motion at all speeds.

SPRO DD Crank 25
SPRO DD Crank 25. Body length: 2-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 1/2 oz. Gamakatsu EWG Trebles. Depth: 8-10 feet.

DD stands for deep diver. This crankbait has one of the most life-like swimming motions. I know you probably hear that a lot (so do I), but it is true in this case. The DD Crank 25 does have one of the most realistic swimming actions I've found on big-billed crankbaits. Few other crankbaits swim as realistic as the DD Crank 25. My best success has been to use the DD Crank 25 on super-slow retrieves and light line (10 lb. test). It has a delicate balance, and if you fish too hard with it, it will become unstable and roll over. Go nice and easy however, and you stand to entice some nice bass.

Storm Wiggle Wart

Worden's Timber Tiger DC-5 and DC-8
Worden Lure's Timber Tiger DC-5 Crankbait (3500 series). Body length: 2-1/4"(excluding lip). Weight: 3/8 ounce. Depth: 5' on 10 lb. line.
Worden's Lures Timber Tiger DC-8 Crankbait (3400 series) Body length: 2-3/4" (excluding lip). Weight: 1/2 ounce. Depth: 7-8' on 10 lb. line.

Lure designer Tom Seward has put a lot of thought and theory into Timber Tiger crankbait development and he's devoted more than the usual attention to crankbait color patterns too. As a result of Seward's research, the snag-resistant features and color schemes of Timber Tigers are unique.

I was first introduced to the Timber Tiger a few years back by one of Japan's top national pros (at that time). He really didn't fish any other methods except to throw the DC-5 and DC-8 (best two models according to him) day in and day out into the very worst, badly-tangled flooded brush fields few other crankbaits could get through - and he pulled a lot of bass out. Basically, he based his fishing career on doing that in Japan and then the USA, including winning some of the highest tournaments and titles in the JBTA (Japan Bass Tournament Association).

According to manufacturer's catalog:
The DC-5 has exceptional snag-resistance for a small lure, easy casting, a true 5 foot dive on 10 lb. line. Back-up capability from bottom contact (12") and it will not roll over on bottom contact to expose hooks.

  • Quick, sharp dive angle
  • Wide splayed "Timber Roller" lip. Special center ridge rolls lure on side over most snags.
  • Premium airbrush paintwork.
  • Special injection molding plastic for superb vibrations and sound production - a Worden's exclisive.
  • "Timber Guard" side fins on belly and tail reduce hang-ups in rocks and brush.
  • "Tite-Tuck" belly hook position. Hook pivots away from snags easier.

According to manufacturer's catalog:
The DC-8 "DEFLECTOR" is the best-performing medium depth crankbait available today, and the vibration and "action" are among the all-time best in crankbait designs. The DC-8 produces an ideal double or "skip-beat" body motion right at average, medium crankbait retrieve speeds and it easily makes the transition from lowest retrieve speeds to the highest without a hitch.

  • Lip design produces sharp dive, quick mid-depth dives.
  • Splayed, coffin style lip with center ride. Loud deflection from cover contact and snag resistance.
  • The body shape produces vicious vibration
  • The first hybrid crankbait with both flatside and alphabet "fat" plug ideal features combined.
  • Special "Timber Guard" side fins on belly and tail reduce hang-ups in rocks and brush.
  • "Tite-Tuck" belly hook position. Hook pivots away from snags easier.
Zenith Junior D
 Distributed in the USA by Specialty Tackle.

Under 2 inches long, the Junior D catches lots of bass especially when larger crankbaits aren't working well.

Despite its small size, it is compact and heavy enough to cast well even with a  baitcaster. There are few other crankbaits so small that can be wielded on a baitcaster -and that dive so deeply. I'd say the Junior D easily gets down around 8 or 9 feet with 10 lb. test line.

It is especially useful as a tournament pre-fishing tool and as a quick limit-filler when you need to put five squeakers in the tank.

The Junior D will attract a tremendous amount of attention when you just want to pre-fish or "test fish" an area. I favor a small crankbait of this size to pre-fish. You'll just get a lot of action. So I keep one Junior D with the hook points rolled in when I want to determine how many fish are present, but not hook them. Rubbed down in MegaStrike fish attractant gel, such a small profile crankbait truly flushes out a lot of pre-fish. This allows me to easily see the most active fish-holding locations as I crank down a long stretch of bank during pre-fish. This helps identify the types of cover, structure, spots, and sections of a bank being used by bass.

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