by John Hutchins
It’s widely known that crankbaits and other reaction type baits excel in windy conditions. What's not as commonly known is exactly why this is. Although increased oxygen levels and bait displacement are key byproducts of a wind driven shoreline they are not typically the biggest contributor in the willingness of a fish to strike moving bait. The seemingly extra aggression is directly related to the fish’s inability to see your bait clearly. In the clearest of Lakes, a chop on the water not only decreases light penetration but it also refracts light in a distortion of beams shooting through the water column. Simply put, you get more bites in the wind because the fish can’t quite make out your bait as well.
With that said, it seems to make sense to count out the reaction bite altogether on a calm day. Doesn't it? Well I can say that if you do, you may be missing out on a big often overlooked opportunity when it comes to cranking. Over the years I have discovered that by speeding up my retrieve or even "burning" my crankbait I can lure the fish into eating my bait on a calm day for the same reason he eats my bait in the wind. That reason is that he just can't quite get a good look at it. For this technique I recommend a high speed reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio. Speed is your friend in this scenario, however it is also important to consider the importance of varying your speed. A quick stop and go, med to fast to extra fast in any combination will do. The key is increasing your overall speed and making your bait as erratic as possible. More often than not the more erratic and random you can get your crankbait to move the more bites you'll get. One of my favorites for this technique is the Chikara Crank by Gary Yamamoto. This bait does a lot of the work for me, as at high speeds it really jumps around creating that erratic action I'm looking for. So the next time you're headed out to the lake and the weatherman is calling for light and variable winds, make sure you don't leave your crankbaits at home because you may just be missing the boat.
John Hutchins is a local Tournament Pro and Lake Anna Fishing guide. With more than 15 years guiding experience and 11 years on the tournament scene, he is one of the most accomplished and well recognized anglers in the region. In addition John is an accomplished public speaker and outdoor writer who is passionate about sharinghis knowledge with others.