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Crank Bait Tutorial
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Welcome to an interview with Professional Walleye Angler Jim Stedky
"Must have Cranks:
The full size Reef Runner (800series),
The full size Rip Stick (700 series),
The 4-3/4" deep or shallow Husky Jerks, 4-3/4" deep or shallow Rouges.
I have a few of the larger size Huskys & Rouges but I start with the 4-3/4" size.
Jim's must have Reef Runner colors for Lake Erie:
Bare Naked, Bubble Gum, Eriedescent, White Purple Tiger, Wild Thing, Rainbow Trout, Fruit Loops, Emerald Shiner, Blueberry Muffin, Purple Prism, Pink Lemonade, Chrome Blue back, Perch.
First thing, I would like to express my greatest appreciation to Jim Stedky for the permission to post his Professional knowledge, experience and opinions on this page.
Thank you Jim.
I "use 700's & 800's way more than the others, but that's not to say that the others are unproductive. The 400 (Lg Ripshad) & 600 (Dp Little Ripper) have both worked well for me when the fish are eating shad (June & July).
The 500 (Little Ripper) is a good lure to run behind a Jet or a Dipsy in mid-late summer."
On the lure of choice thing.... Reef Runners have earned their spot at the front of the line in my boat, by out producing Thundersticks, Husky Jerks, Bombers, Bagley Top Guns, and all the lures that we've run against them. The opinion is derived from many different actions creating a more consistent catch ratio over extended time and elements."
The irony is that what makes them great is the exact same thing that stops fishermen from using them, and that is the fact that they are tricky to tune.
They work so well because they have that built in kick out. (we call it a horizontal hunting action).
They are perfectly tuned when the lure kicks out equally to both sides, and it takes some patience to get them there. But believe you me... it is well worth the effort.
That kickout is a huge trigger to following walleyes."
One other thing that seems to fit into this lure discussion is the fact that, it is not the secret lure or the secret color...95 percent of the time it is getting your lure to the right depth and staying in the strike zone.
You could have ran the new hot Bare Naked Reef Runners all last summer, and if you weren't into it enough to keep them in the zone, it wouldn't have done squat."
How important it is to keep the lures in the zone?
If the eyes are chasing clouds of bait fish do you have better results running the lures at the top or bottom of the cloud?
Or do you just run them a couple feet above the eyes?
"Depth is the first thing to be concerned with, and the biggest key nearly everyday. The exception may be real early Spring and real late Fall, but even then it only becomes unimportant if you keep everything way up high."
"Current conditions must be taken into account.
If the bait balls are scattered with fish under them scattered as well, it may be a time to fish different depths. In fact there is a window of about 3 weeks in late July & early August off Lorain when there are fish at 2 separate zones. One around 35' and one up around 18'."
But the short answer is most of the time you want your lures near the bottom of the bait balls."
Also be watching for the "zone" to change and be ready to adjust with the fish. A big advantage the charters have is they can cover more than 1 depth with the 12 to 16 lines they are allowed to run. So as the fish come up, they already have something there waiting for them. And simply readjust the others to what is firing now."
"Most of the time the walleyes will be 5 - 8' below the bait, but my 1st choice would be bottom to center of the bait."
What kind of line do you use to run crank baits trolling?
Not sure if this helps but I've always run XT 10lb mono and 30lb PP.
This is what was suggested to me from a lot of folks because it matches well with dive curves. I've never had issues with the XT or 10# or 12# Berkley Big Game mono."
Because I believe strongly in staying above the fish, I also use 12# Big Game which is a little larger diameter than 10# XT, and thereby keeps the lure a little high than the chart depths.
Line I think is a matter of personal preference, and I don't believe that you need to use exactly what I use."
Much better success when trolling crankbaits is with mono when compared to using braided line. Do you think this was because of mono's stretch? Also, when running mono, do you use a fluorocarbon leader or just connect directly to the mono?
It has everything to do with the mono's stretch.
Mono stretches from 25-30 %. Even the pull of the lure in parts some stretch into the mono. When a curious following walleye comes up behind the mono lure and nudges it or pushes on it, the stretch in the line allows the wobble of the lure to continue in a natural way."
When the same walleye nudges or pushes on a superbraid lure, the lack of stretch causes the lure stop wobbling and perhaps flip over and in general act very unnaturally, causing the fish to lose interest."
Pro Mark Brumbaugh also commented on his belief that mono will often get you more hook-ups when running harnesses.
For cranks I use a size #2 Crosslock round bottom snap only. Never a leader unless it has to go on a dipsy.
For cranks, a simple cross-lok round bottom snap about 5/8ths of an inch, and a tuned lure is all you need."
Pro Scott Fairborn says:
"I have gone to fireline exculsively.
All of my trolling rods are set up with the 14 lb. new crystal fireline from Berkley.
I quit using mono about 5 years ago and will probably never go back."
Because fireline is so much more sensitive than mono and allows cranks to run deeper than on mono.
I fish any kind of water I can with fireline.
I can tell if my crank has picked up a weed or isn't running right due to some other reason. Mono in my opinion has to much stretch to it and it is hard to tell if your lure is running right or not.
The down falls with fireline is that you have to go with an xtra fast or fast tip rod with a lot of forgiveness to it because of firelines no stretch characteristics. Also add a 6 to 10 feet leader of fluorocarbon to the end of rigs to add a little stretch in the line."
Do you think your lose ratio goes up, and if so by how much?
"I have seen the times that Fireline rigs produce significantly more hits, and in fact there are times when the additional hook ups more than offset the rip offs. And it seems those times are most often during a tuff bite. That's why I experiment with them, but I don't see the advantage to run it all the time, especially on fired up & highly active fish.
Let me add this ... I like to fish as fast as possible and most of the time, I'm one of the faster trollers in the area. If you like to fish slow, I can see that it wouldn't be such a deal.
I have not seen any real down falls to running the fireline all the time.
I can not say that I have ever lost a fish due to the fireline's no stretch characteristics.
I run the diawa and okuma down rigger / dipsey rods in the 8' lengths.
These rods as many of you will know have a very whippy or the correct term is x fast tips on them. The rods are the key to fishing with the fireline because they have to be able to take the shock of the fish battling not like with mono where the stretch in the line takes a lot of the shock. I also back off on my drag a little more then most when I feel the fish is an extremely large one or has broad shoulders.
I also have switched all of the hooks to Mustads triple grip hooks to help with the fears of loosing a fish. I will say that fireline is not for everyone! It takes a while to get the hang of it but all of the reading studying I have done on the topic I feel confident that for me and my style of trolling it fits perfectly.
I have talked to some of the PWT pro's about this very topic and most will admit that they troll the fireline almost exclusively.
I am going to say again that trolling the fireline is not for everyone and it takes some time to adjust.
I also will troll faster then most would even think of. My run of the mill trolling speed is usually 2.5+ but I have trolled at 4 mph during the dog days of summer on flat lakes to produce reaction bites. I like to cover water and with my set up I feel that it is my most productive way of doing so."
Pro Scott Fairborn
That's a real in the know set up Scott, and one that would be ultra readable for little fish, weeds, trash, or bottom contact.
The only downside is the potential for rip offs. I hate loosing fish, and I feel that with fireline, I'm going to have a higher percentage of them get off, even with longer softer rods, backed off drags, and experienced guy on the rod."
Today's low stretch superlines like Berkley Fireline, Power Pro and others have some tremendous benefits to walleyes anglers fishing crankbaits.
Specifically the low diameter of these lines will allow cranks to dive deeper with the same amount of line out as traditional monofilament.
While the lines do have a significant upside the low stretch properties can result in lost fish do to excessive wear on the fish's mouth during the fight. A solution is available in the form of inward bend treble hooks like Mustad's Triple Grip treble hook.
Traditional treble hooks evolved over the years with monofilament line in mind. Stretchy mono demands open gaps that get something on the fish at distance. Usually a hookset or additional pressure drives the hook home.
In contrast, low stretch superlines have instant hookup and the focus shifts to keep the fish on until it gets to the boat. The inward bend of the Triple Grip accomplishes that goal.
Switching over to inward bend trebles on crankbaits when using superlines will increase your odds of handling fish all the way to the boat.
No rod pumping, keep the pressure equal.
For more info on walleye fishing hooks and matching the right hook to your favorite techniques, check out the mustad fish hook guide."
Because I believe strongly in staying above the fish, I also use 12# Big Game which is a little larger dia. than 10# XT, and thereby keeps the lure a little high than the chart depths.
Line, I think is a matter of personal preference, and I don't believe that you need to use exactly what I use."
For ReefRunner tuning left and right bending only. Just ever so slightly so you don't overcorrect and have to bend it back. (this weakens the eye)"
The down turning and elongating like they do on the Renowskis along with taking off the front hook, makes that lure real snakie looking, but the Reef Runners and Rip Sticks both run at a much more defined head down, tail up angle than the Renowski."
If I want to open up the action on any Reef Runner, I'll run it on 10/4 Fireline (which opens up the action about 30%)"
Also sometimes I'll add a flashaboo feathered or larger treble to the rear to bulk up the lure and give it an almost jointed look."
When you start reshaping the line tie loop, you run the danger of the lure taking on water, which is a bad thing. If you're doing a bunch of them at home just dab some epoxy around the line tie to reseal, but on the water who wants to mess with epoxy."
The snap weight adds depth and cause the added benefit of vertical swim.
So instead of the lure staying at one depth it covers a band of water. How wide that band is depends on how you manipulate the boat. (how long you give it at reduced speed or even stall it out on inside turns)"
"Snap weights add approx. 1' of depth per 1/4 oz. 1 oz = 4' etc. at a speed of 2.7 mph.
If you place the weight only 5' ahead of the lure the lure reacts right now and it's reaction is much more radical than if the weight were 50' ahead. The snap weight chart shows that at 2 mph a 1 oz snap weight 50' ahead will get you from 8 - 12' of ADDED depth.
So, when we add the 8' to the lure gets on 50' of line we come up with 16 - 20' depth band covered by that lure. (Too deep)"
"So, we are forced to try and figure it out ourselves. The 1 oz gets us to 8 - 12 by itself and if we want 10', we'd be better off dropping down to 1/2 oz weights. The 1/2 oz. adds 2 - 6' of depth, and the lure goes 6' with 25' of line out, so if we put the 1/2 oz wt 5' ahead of the lure and put 20' of line out after the weight, we should be covering 8 - 12'."
"Snap weights are very speed sensitive, and the info in the book (to me) is only a starting point.
From there it is up to you to put a program together."
"But experience has taught me that snap weights this short don't do much unless you drive like a drunken sailor. So I'd put out another 10' of line (a total of 35') and drive more reasonably."
"Snap weights are tanglers, and to minimize the dreaded tangle, good boat steering is essential."
"Snap weights are not needed when the fish are on, but when the fish are neutral to negative, they can save the day."
"Depth achieved with in-lines or snap weights is pretty iffy at best. My guess to a hypothetical would be a 3oz. weight 75' back at 2mph=30'."
I know snap weights run a 50/50. But when using inline keel weights does the 50/50 add up to 100ft.
Lineout for depth?
So, the 50/50 method is not used for keel weights, only for snap weights. In snap weights the 50/50 method does not have to be 50ft...it can be 30ft, so if you let out 30', then you would apply your snap weight and let out another 30'. It also depends on what size snap weight to get your desired dept...and if you're using crankbaits it will have an additional dept depending on its lip whether its shallow or deep diver. Keel weights are the same as inline weights, so you would connect that at the end of your braid, then attach a leader ranging from 6-10' leader using Mono or Flouro, then your crank or worm harness."
In the 8th edition of Precision Trolling all the stick baits are in the back of the book. Rip Sticks are there as are all 3 sizes of Husky Jerks."
"The same length ahead of all the lures on that side and then I still do all I can to maximize the clearances when bringing in a fish. And I'm more likely to reel in inside lines."
When trolling with 40/10lb. diameter braid, are you using 10lb.mono chart for inlines?
Yes, 40lb power pro is equal to 10lb diameter mono, so you would go by those numbers to get whatever size inline weight down to a desired dept by the amount of line to let out. If you use a braid that has a thinner diameter than 10lb diameter you can expect your line to get deeper due to less drag."
Crank Tips from the Pro's
Power Pro, loosen the drags, consider going to longer softer rods, and stop cranking when they slam on the brakes and start shaking their head (you'll know when it happens). To properly work a big fish on superbraid it should take you twice as long to bring it to the boat as it would with mono.
Some guys use 40# test braid (Power Pro) for the reason that it has approximately the same diameter as 10# mono, and makes using the Precision Trolling Manual easy.
If line twist is a problem for you, put a sampo swivel only 4' ahead of the snap, and it will help significantly.
If you plan to run any of the diving devices (dipsies, jets, etc.) you should get the Big Water edition.
The Big Water edition does NOT have the dive curves for the crankbaits, so you will probably want to get BOTH books so you have both the dive curves for the cranks and also for the diving devices like dipsys and jets.
Line- some guys favor 30/8 Power Pro over 40/10 either is fine, to coincide with the dive curve charts. I've used both and really can't tell the difference although the 30/8 will go slightly deeper.
I have explained my reasoning and will stick with the mono for cranks except when on #1 dipsys that require a leader.
Steelies will chomp you off with 25-30lb fluoro leaders. Steelies will break 25lb test (Berkely Vanish) on the initial hookup. Vanish sucks bad.
Seagar CarbonPro or P-Line semi fluoro are my opinion for a good leader (they come on 200+ yd spools for economy).
Only when using dipsys my leaders are 6-10ft long.
For my leader hardware I run a good crosslocking snapswivel after the snubber, and a black #2 EagleClaw snap at the terminal end.
To me, less extra bulk by the spoon = more fish.
Duolock #2 snaps = lost fish.
Leader length? The longest you can get away with, depends on how long your rod it, net handle and how far forward you can walk in your boat to let the net guy get a clean swipe for the net job.
I usually run 6-7 ft, tourney fishing in very clean water I'll go 8-10 feet.
If line twist is a problem for you, put a sampo swivel only 4' ahead of the snap, and it will help significantly.
Line twist can come from an untuned lure, dragging a trash fish, or running too fast for the lure.
Snap swivels are Sampo #2 tournament or #2 coastlock (both rated at 45# but fairly small).
For cranks I use a size 2 Crosslock round bottom snap only.
Leaders the same snap only as above on one end and a Sampo ballbearing sampo swivel on the other end. (For spoons & stickbaits)
I have these different set-ups.
6 Crank/board rods are spooled with Berkley Big Game 12 lb.
8 Dipsy rods are spooled with 40/10 lb. powerpro.
10 Crank/board rods are spooled with Berkley Big Game 12 lb.
6 Board rods with 20# Cajun.
Copper is fished much like the lead core; straight off the back of the boat or attached to the boards. The backing, not the copper, is what should be attached to the boards. A 20 lb. mono or fluorocarbon can be used for leader. Approximately 15' for dodgers, and about 30' for spoons. A snubber is not usually fished with copper. Copper line sinks faster than leadcore. For 30 lb. copper figure approximately 5' - 6' for every 10 yds. and for 45 lb. copper approximately 7' - 9' for every 10 yds. These figures will vary depending on trolling speed and the weight of the bait being used.
There is also a part in the front of the Precision Trolling Manual referencing the 50/50 method with a snap weight, and also another program called the 1oz 20 plus method. The 20+ method is adding a 1 oz snap snap weight 20ft in front of your bait--the results would be an added 33% depth increase.
I welcome any questions
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