The Best Smallmouth Crankbaits of All Time

Many ingredients need to be stirred into the pot to determine which smallmouth crankbaits top all others for smallmouth bass. Some factors actually make it impossible to pick one clear favorite as the all-time best for all situations. Some work better in clear water, some in cloudy water. Some work best after fronts, some excel in stable weather. Some only dive 6 feet, so what if they’re down 10? And so on. And, to some extent, it’s personal.

So, since it’s actually impossible to say which of the following is truly best of all time, we list the top 10 producers for me, personally. And, since the best crankbait bites tend to take place in stable weather when smallies are really aggressive, the most aggressive baits tend to gravitate toward the top of the list. But, one thing’s for certain: Any list of the top 10 should include a bait or two that matches any conditions, and any situation.

1. Storm Original Wiggle Wart

This bait has the most erratic side-to-side action of any crank I’ve ever fished with. Amazing in the sense that this design predates so many of the “modern” cranks that make up the remainder of the list. The Original Wiggle Wart is a must-have for river smallmouths migrating toward wintering habitat in fall, when they reach peak aggressiveness for the year.

2. Rapala DT 4-10

Few baits are so universally effective as the Rapala DT 6. It triggers equally well in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs – in clear or cloudy water – and in post-frontal conditions as well as stable weather. The DT 6 can always be counted on to catch a few, even on days when it’s not the most effective lure in the box. And those days are rare. Stop this bait, push a little slack toward it, and it sidles to the side in a half turn. Awesome trigger. The DT4 is one of my favorite shallow runners, and few baits cash in better than the DT 10 when smallies are camped out on ledges 10 to 14 feet deep. Use thin, braided line like Suffix 832 and the DT 10 can reach 15 feet. That’s actually three different cranks. So sue me.


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