Small crankbaits are the trend

By Steve Carney

Contributing Columnist


When I think about the tackle I carry around in the boat, it is funny how many items you carry year after year and never use them.

Recently I decided to experiment with just such an item and found the thing I have been carrying around all these years was actually a fine lure.

This lure is the mini-crank bait.

This is sort of a generic term for minnow style baits that are about an inch long.

Here’s a primer on why I think these little baits are awesome and some techniques for using them.

Think small

Most anglers break out the standard 4-5 inch minnow baits and start trolling or casting with very little thought on action, depths or colors. Time to break the habit.

I began experimenting with these little mini-baits by having one client use one and the other a standard sized bait.

Hands down, the little baits were overwhelming in performance. When I say a mini bait I mean a small minnow imitator that is classified as an ultra-light bait.

These baits are an inch to 1 1/2 inches in length.

Multi species performance

My strategy behind these small baits is simple. What artificial bait could I use that could catch crappies, walleyes, bluegills and northern pike all in the same package?

The small, itty bitty minnow baits are the ticket. I now catch some of the biggest bluegills and crappies accidentally while fishing walleyes with these little baits … now that’s a real bonus.

Large bluegills and crappies just can’t resist the vibrating movement and can handle the small trebles on the mini baits easily.

Instead of bouncing off or shying away from the standard 4-inch baits they now attack these small baits with a vengeance.


Color doesn’t seem to be a factor on these small baits. I think most any color works as it seems it’s a performance issue rather than a color issue.

My favorite color under most circumstances is the silver shad style which looks very much like a small shiner or shad minnow.  Matching your equipment

If you are planning on experimenting with these mini baits, you need to make sure your rod, reel and line is matched for proper performance.

I use 6-pound test monofilament line, a 5 foot medium action rod and a small, downsized reel for throwing these little baits. Heavy rods and heavy line are no match for these baits. When you downsize the bait you need to downsize the line, rods and reels. When you have the perfect marriage of a small crank bait matched with the perfect equipment life is good.


Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page