Crankbaits are summer bass killers, and these days you can find one to perform in every situation. I would bet, however, that for most guys color and how deep a bait dives are the guiding factors in choosing which crank to cast. To many fishermen, whether it rattles or not is kind of irrelevant, but that absolutely shouldn’t be the case. Sound (or lack thereof) plays a large part in whether a particular crankbait catches a bass’s attention the right way, thus making it strike. I often base a crank choice on sound first depending on the conditions I’m dealing with. We all know to go loud in dirty water, but here are a few other sound factors to consider.
In Schools If you’re dealing with large schools of fish, use a crank with a rattle first. In schooling situations, bass are in competition for food, so you want to try to get the attention of the biggest fish right away, and the rattle will help trigger a commitment from the leader of the pack. If the school eventually gets wise to your rattling crank (which often happens), switch to a silent bait and try varying your retrieve speed.
In The Open If bass are set up on spots like long flat points, offshore humps, or subtle drops with little or no cover, silent baits are actually a better choice than noisy cranks. Bass in places like these can see and detect a lure from a long distance, and because they have no specific ambush spot for the crank to come in contact with (like a stump) where noise will trigger them, I’ve found that a quiet, more natural presentation works better.
In The Grass When bass are ambushing prey in thick grass, I’ve always had more success ringing the dinner bell with rattles. I think part of the reason why this works so well is that—as many of you know—strikes often comes when you’re ripping a hung-up crank off the grass. If you’re using rattles, that quick pop when the lure breaks free of the vegetation will be even more pronounced.