Cranking for the Series
Strike King's Series Crankbait
Mar. 13, 2008
There may be no more confusing, intimidating, yet simplistic lure in the entire arsenal of modern bass fishing than the venerable crankbait.
Think about it. Some of the earliest bass fishing lures (and some of the most collectable today) are one version or other of a crankbait. Anglers since the era of James Henshall have know that a properly shaped piece of wood or hard plastic painted with bright or natural colors will attract and stimulate a bass into striking. Remember lures like the Pikie Minnow, the Dive Bomber, or the Fred Young phenom, the “Big O”? What about the Bagley DB-3, or the Norman DD-22? These are just a few of the thousands of crankbaits that have come, gone, and come again in the world of recreational and competitive bass fishing.
If you had to pick out the single, most frequently asked question among crankbait anglers, especially those new to this group of lures, it would have to be, “Which lure do I use when?” or another version, “How deep will this lure go”?
In other words, these anglers all want to know, how do I select the right lure for the conditions I’m fishing? It has been said for years that the key to fishing success is to present a lure at the right depth, the depth where the fish are holding and can thus see and react to the lure. This means that we need crankbaits that we can quickly identify as capable of fishing through a known depth range. Many anglers that I’ve fished with over the years have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of crankbaits in their possession, and they have absolutely no clue how deep the lures will run, and when they need to use them. I believe that Strike King Lure Company, in Collierville, Tennessee has an answer to this problem.
Strike King is one of the world’s most respected and well-know lures companies, with one of the best and most well known Tour level pro staff in the world. These guys and ladies fish for a living, and simply cannot accept lures that offer less than consistent quality and performance. Strike King has answered that need with the “Series” concept in their hard crankbait line.
Strike King has chosen to identify their crankbaits, not by name or a style description, but rather with a “Series” number designation. From the surface-running 1XS to the deepest diving Series 6, Strike King has created an entire inventory of six distinct body and lip style lures that will effectively cover the surface to 15 foot levels of the water column. All of these depths are based on 10 pound line and a long cast with a 5:1 reel. (Writer’s note—these are my experiences with these lures, using 10 pound Sugoi fluorocarbon and a Shimano Conquest 200 reel. Minimum cast length was 80 feet.)
The lures in this Series include the topwater/subsurface 1 XS, which is a great lure for shallow fish when you would normally throw a spinnerbait or buzzbait.
The 1 is a small bodied, square lipped, shallow water bait that covers the two to four foot band well and can be cranked into and through cover. It is a great bait for springtime shallow water, and anytime fish are feeding on small perch or bluegill
My personal go-to favorite, get-me-a-limit, crankbait. I’ve caught so many two to five-pound fish and so many different species of fish on this lure that it is absolutely sinful! It’s the bait that I use to teach kids how to crank a bait. Operating in the five to 9-foot range, this small-bodied, fat crankbait features an extended lip and positive buoyancy to get it through wood and rock cover.
Best colors for me have been black back/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse, Tennessee shad and Ghost. Smallmouth, spotted bass, largemouth, white bass and hybrids all eat this one with abandon. Throw it, wind it, make it hit something, and hold on! I especially like the “Bleeding Bait” colors in this lure. Gizzard Shad and Blue Back/Chartreuse are two must have colors in this bait.
Series 4 and 4S
These two lures are full-sized crankbaits, featuring the same size body as the deeper diving Series 5, but with either a square bill (4S) or a diving bill (4). The 4S is the Series version of the venerable Big O type lure, and is at its best cranking around gnarly cover in shallow water. The 4S runs about three to five feet deep and puts off a wide wobbling vibration. I love to throw this one through laydown willow trees inside river oxbows. The deeper diving series 4 is a lure I select when I want to get a lure through deeper wood cover, situated in five to eight feet of water, especially in stained water conditions.
This has to be one of the best deep-diving crankbaits on the planet. My second favorite, only because the Series 3 catches MORE fish. The Series 5, with the full-sized body, catches less numbers for me, but generally is the crankbait that I look for when I need the quality bite, or fish get deep during summer and early fall. There simply is no better crankbait for me when cranking Pickwick and Kentucky lake ledges than a Series 5.
My favorite ledges are isolated bars or high spots that top out in 9-14 feet of water, and the Series 5 will stick its bill in the gravel in those depths and stay there. Big fish find something very attractive in the action of this lure. My most favorite Series 5 memory was a day last summer on Lake Dancy with my good friend Roger Stegall, a Strike King pro staff member and noted Pickwick Lake guide. Roger and I found an underwater rock pile that was just loaded with 4-5 pound F-1 largemouths, and every time we hit the top of the rocks in 10 feet of water, things got real interesting. I retired a Series 5 in Chartreuse RootBeer after that hot July day. After over 80 pounds of fish, I felt it was the right thing to do!
This is the biggest and the deepest. I reserve it for the July-September dog days when bass are deep, as deep as 15 or 16 feet, feeding on big threadfin or gizzard shad. This bad boy is a big bait and it’ll let you know you’ve been cranking at the end of the day, but it offers the depth and size qualities that makes it a legitimate big-fish, big water crankbait.
That’s the Series Team - 1 XS to 6. Surface to 16 feet. Are they magically better than other crankbaits? Probably not. We are in an age when every lure company offers high quality, effective lures. Are they better organized, easier and more effective for anglers to choose and use? ABSO-DURN-LUTELY! Any angler can put together a crankbait box using the Series concept that will give them the confidence that they have the correct tools to fish any combination of water and cover from top to bottom. The lures are clearly marked, and the Series number corresponds to a depth range that the lure will consistently achieve. Anglers simply need to remember that the higher the number, the deeper the diving range of the bait.
I think fishing should be as simple and uncluttered as possible. The less time an angler spends selecting a lure, the more time they have to use catching fish. ‘Nuff said!