Image Above: Balsa Crankbait Prototype, foiled and waiting for paint and epoxy
Crankbaits are as American as a certain type of pie; so it is with a bit of apprehension that I have begun messing round with my own little version of a trusted classic. Regrettably in the UK we don’t have that other American Classic to accompany the lure, freshwater bass. We do have the humble Perch and then there is always a chance that a pike may be in the market for a snack rather than a full meal.
Why a crankbait? I was looking for a lure to work at close range on a particular type of water we seem to have a lot of in this country, old industrial canals. As man-made structures I often get the feeling when fishing them I am somehow just testing lures in an overly large bathtub and to certain extent because of that uniformity I find them very hard to read, but water is water and needs to be fished. Depth wise my local stretch is a maximum of 4’3” or 1.3m and anything from 15ft wide to double that, on the plus side it does run for 127 miles and at times it has felt like I have walked or possibly trudged every mile. Structure can be sparse with long sections of aquatic motorway hemmed in by concrete or reinforced banks. But then there can be narrow sections under bridges or turning bays for long boats, sometimes wild sections spring up with reeds and water lilies but still conforming to an engineered geometry.
To date my forays to the ‘cut’ (slang for canal) have not been particularly fruitful but then winter can bunch fish together create whole swathes of canal that are almost devoid of fish, so I make my excuses. Part of the problem has been making lures for open water fishing and expecting them to translate easily into more restricted situations, here working with short casts is the norm but not just short they also have to be a little more accurate.
Like all bits of water that skirt urban and industrial areas the canal seems to attract almost surrealist debris, I have found whole desktop computers with screens happily bobbing along still tethered with cables to the keyboard and hub. Supermarket trolleys are almost a staple hazard but a more common and unseen one is the plastic bag, half filled with silt they line the bottom ready to grab stray hooks and hold them until the little sack can be dragged to the bank. All inviting stuff; but then there can be sections so steeped in that Victorian past with cobble stones and brick warehousing that it would not seem out of sorts to bump into Dickens enjoying a constitutional.
I suppose I should know the basics of what makes a crankbait, but no matter how many lines I lay down on paper or re-plot on the computer the test and then the refinement comes only after I have had a good chance to throw it in some water; even then I devote more time than is healthy wondering if I should tweak it a little. So my latest crankbait balsa prototype is waiting for some coats of epoxy, paint and a lip. It’s through wire is reinforced by a brass weight so if I should find a monster or a monster plastic bag the wire will hold up. Rather than make it in two halves I have gone for the simpler slot approach with a hole for the belly weight. It should end up about 65mm (2 1/2”) long and 10g (1/3oz) just on the light end of what my rod will cast. The shape is standard stuff but rather than taper to the tail or head I have gone for a flat sided approach to make it pump a bit more water and also simplify the design, should anyone else want to have a go at building it.
For finishes, well I have been experimenting again with resin additives and new ways of laying up foil to create some depth in the facial features.
So next comes a little more testing and the start of another How-to video with hopefully some fish catching footage or bag retrieval.