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Gunki Crankbaits

Ash Costa – What is Speed-Cranking? And When or Where Should It Be Used?

Like some of my other successful lure-fishing retrieval techniques that are now a staple in my fishing – I stumbled upon speed-cranking by accident. 

When you spend a fair amount of time on the bank you get time to try out various methods that can often pay off. However, there are also times when you do something, without trying and it works!

More times than I care to think about I have snagged weed when lure fishing. It’s unavoidable where I fish and just something you have to deal with. Normally when this happens I’d ‘burn’ the lure in as quickly as I could to clear it of debris allowing me to throw it again as soon as possible. 

A selection of Gunki crankbaits available at www.predatortackle.co.uk

It was on one of these weeded-speed retrievals I noticed that some perch would follow the lure to the bank – when a regular or a slower more purposeful retrieve resulted in nothing. After noticing this, I purposefully up’d the speed (and when I say up’d I mean cranking in as fast as I possibly could) and the difference in the hook-up ratio was night and day. All of a sudden I was getting frequent follows and some absolutely savage hits!

The need for speed

So why was this significant change in retrieval technique so successful? After experimenting with various crankbaits, tackle, and retrieval methods over multiple seasons in clear water, observing the fish’s reactions has been an enlightening experience.

This beast couldn’t resist the chase!

Crankbaits in general are pretty blatant and they often have a loud rattle, the action is aggressive and when fished slowly it gives the perch far too much time to investigate and decide if it’s something they do or don’t want. 

If you crank it in much faster you’re giving the perch much less time to ‘think’ and this triggers more of a reactionary hit because they have less time to study the lure. Add in a few split-second pauses during the speed-cranking and this can be just enough to entice even the wariest perch into attack mode. 

What I look for in a good crankbait for speed-cranking

If you’re going to try speed-cranking you’ll need the right gear. First of all, not all crankbaits are created equal, some are just not designed to be fished at high speed. If the crank has a tendency to come up on its side at high speed, this is not a good choice for this technique. 

A selection of Gunki crankbaits available at www.predatortackle.co.uk

What I tend to look for in a good speed-cranking lure is one with flattish sides, this’ll give you a nice tight action which perch seem to love and works much better in cooler water. I find when I’ve used a crank with a much wider action it can attract the pike – good if you’re fishing for them!

Another key area to think about when choosing the right lure is running depth. As a rule, I like to choose a lure that will run a foot or two deeper than the water I’m fishing. The reason for this is I want my crank lure to be dredging into the bottom of the river bed and deflecting off any structure or rocks. So often bites have come immediately after the lure deflects to one side and most following perch think it’s any easy meal trying to get away so they hammer it.

Crankbait caught trio landed in quick succession

There are a couple of scenarios where I’d avoid a crankbait that touches the bottom on retrieve. The first is when the venue is weedy, snagging up equals lost fishing time either clearing the lure or not fishing effectively due to being caught up. In this situation, I’ll choose a crank lure that ticks along the top of the weed. 

The second is when I know the fish are ‘suspending’ up in the water column. A high-speed crank for a group of suspending perch can be deadly and often pick out the bigger, more aggressive fish. 

Environment and lure selection

If you’re fishing for perch that aren’t pressured, the water is coloured or the fish are actively feeding then choosing a crank lure with a rattle is often a good starting point. The additional attraction will draw the attention of any inquisitive perch.

Another fenland hog slammed a speed-cranked lure

For perch that are pressured a silent crank lure can be a real edge and is often overlooked. In clear water, a transparent, silent crank with a red treble on the front is a deadly edge that shouldn’t be ignored! 

I’m aware that having such a selection of lures can be expensive – even for me! So making modifications to my lures is something I often do. Drilling through the rattle chamber of a noisy crank and filling it with foam is a good way to make it silent. Another mod you can make is to reshape or separate the edge of the bill (but as this is already a long article I’ll save that for another day).

What rod should I use for speed-cranking?

I prefer my lure rod to be around 7ft in length, sometimes slightly longer in certain situations. A longer rod will allow you to cast further meaning you are fishing effectively for longer periods of time, increasing your chances of a bite. 

Action-wise I like something that is more moderate. Most crankbaits have two fairly small treble hooks with six sharp hook points so a rod of this calibre should prevent hook pulls. I like to compare it to pole fishing for silvers. If you were to use a size 18 elastic you would constantly bump fish off – something nice and soft is the way to go.

A selection of Gunki crankbaits available at www.predatortackle.co.uk

What reel should I use for speed-cranking?

A reel that’s solid and has a good drag is important as cranking can be hard on your tackle, so good quality components are important and will certainly benefit you in the long run. I like a reel with a gear ratio of around 5:1 that I fish as fast as possible. If you stick with the same reel, through continuous use you’ll become familiar with it meaning you’ll know how best it works for all situations.

What line should I use for speed-cranking?

Braid is the popular choice when it comes to lure fishing and I do use this for top water but for the most part I choose to use fluorocarbon straight through. If I fished reservoirs I’d probably go with a braided mainline because it’s thinner and should help your crank reach max diving depth quicker. But as I predominantly fish waters somewhere between 5-10ft I love to use fluorocarbon. 

Fluorocarbon can be tougher, more abrasion-resistant and heavier which I find easier to control. Also fishing fluro straight through negates an extra knot between me and the lure. It’s not quite as sensitive as braid but has a tiny amount of stretch that acts as a buffer when you hook big fish.

In summary 

speed-cranking above all else is fun and effective all year round – even in winter with water temperatures sub 6°c. I’ve caught big perch speed-cranking in the colder months with the only main difference being to include more pauses on the retrieve.. 

Tackle-wise I’ve mentioned above what I’m comfortable using but you should use what you have or what you find effective. There’s a huge amount of detail I could’ve gone into with regard to lure, rod and reel selection. For the benefit of this article, we’ve lightly touched on the basics. This should be a great starting point for any of you wanting to try out speed-cranking. It really is an amazing technique!

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Ash Costa
Ash Costa

Predator Fishing Expert Contributor with a strong focus on searching out specimen perch and pike.