For Kevin VanDam, crankbaits are among the most efficient tools to find and catch big pre-spawn bass as they prepare to move up. See his top picks for pre-spawn crankbaits and stay tuned for part II where KVD covers his ideal cranking rod/reel setup.
Most anglers are not thinking a lot about cranking in the different phases of the spawn. For Kevin Vandam, a crankbait is something that he uses through all phases of the spawn, especially during the pre-spawn and the post-spawn. A crankbait can be dynamite during the pre-spawn period. This is one of the most efficient tools to find and catch big bass that are just staging and getting ready to move up.
KVD uses specific crankbaits for colder water scenarios. He uses baits with a tighter action, more vibration, and more rattles. The bass really focus with their lateral line to feed during the cold-water period. Baits like the Red Eyed Shad, the Chick Magnet, and the KVD 1.5 Flatside are perfect baits for this period.
As the water warms up, KVD uses baits that have more thumping action and a wider wobble. The KVD 1.5, the KVD 1.5 Deep, and other standard crankbaits with more thumping action are ideal for when the water temperature creeps up again.
Crankbaits are efficient at covering several types of cover and getting down to the bottom. This time of the year, the bait should be hitting the bottom, hitting the cover, and getting down into the grass. The erratic action, vibration, and noise of these crankbaits are efficient at triggering big fish to bite. Crankbaits have become so specialized that there is a perfect bait for every type of zone and cover that could be faced.
Some crankbaits fish efficiently all the way from 2 feet of water to 10 feet of water. The Chick Magnet is a flat sided bait designed to have a lively action. It has a hard thumping action that gives off a lot of pressure waves. The Chick Magnet is a great early season crankbait when the fish are really focused on using their lateral line. The fish find this bait and bite it when they do not hit standard style crankbaits. This crankbait is great up to the 5 or 6 feet zone.
The Red Eyed Shad is a mainstay pre-spawn bait for KVD. There are different versions of this bait, including the Tungsten Two-tap, the standard Red Eyed Shad with loud BBs, and the silent model. The Red Eyed Shad has flat sides and it sinks. This crankbait can be yo-yoed, ripped out of grass, or fished like a jig. This bait is super versatile and has a tight action. During that colder water period during in the pre-spawn, it just catches fish in all parts of the country.