My friend Tej was trained in at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India in the art of jewelry design, and that continues to be his bread and butter. Fortunately for those of us who don’t care about baubles and wearable bling, he has turned his time-off attention to a far more noble (albeit likely less lucrative) pursuit: Airbrushing crankbaits.
On Monday I got to spend 90 minutes in the boat with David Fritts, 1993 Bassmaster Classic Champion, 1997 FLW Championship victor, and widely acknowledged crankbait savant. About a decade ago I’d spent a day with him on the Potomac River on a tour practice day, but that day he was focused on finding fish so I really couldn’t pick his brain. This time, it was all about the Q&A.
By Pete Robbins
The typical El Salto crankbait chucker, myself included, has caught more fish there on a Citrus Shad Fat Free Shad than any other plug. It has worked for 30 years, continues to work, and it’s the first one that most guides will recommend.
That doesn’t mean it’s always the best.
While south of the border last week, my friend Terry Conroy kicked multiple butts cranking with a Strike King pattern called Clearwater Minnow, which is on the opposite end of the gaudiness spectrum from the chartreuse- and yellow-tinged baits that we normally throw down there. First he put his 6XD up against my friend Duncan Maccubbin’s Fat Free Shad and went to town. The next day he put up his 8XD against my very same bait, except in a Citrus Shad pattern, and beat me two-to- one. It got bad enough on one little ridge that I couldn’t do anything but watch and laugh. When it appeared that he was going to go two casts without a bite, I pointed that fact out, but it proved false as a fish grabbed his crankbait just below the boat. They weren’t big -- just chunky 2- to 4-pounders -- but they were mean as snakes and they liked his bait best.
Of course, it could’ve been his line or his cadence, and those might’ve played a part in his domination during those two sessions, but I truly believe that the more natural paint job played the largest role.
That experience won’t get me away from some of my favorites entirely, but it did open my eyes to the fact that I sometimes need to open my brain.