Suddeth Crankbaits In Cold Water
with Joey Baskins
I wrote this for Georgia Outdoor News in February, 2012. Joey kept his promise of quality control for his crankbaits and you can count of them!
Bass fishermen dream of caching fish, but many also have the fantasy of working in the fishing industry, spending all their time fishing and thinking about it. Few make that dream come true but Joey Baskins did, developing and making lures for bass fishing.
Joey worked in a plant but loved fishing. He fished bass tournaments and made contact with many sporting goods stores, and saw a need for good, reliable baits that caught bass.
He developed Blademaster Lures then acquired Suddeth Crankbaits, and now spends his time coming up with new lures and colors and testing them out. He has been fishing for over 30 years and is fishing the some of the BFLs and Fishers of Men tournament trails.
The Blademaster side of the company produces spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, all kinds of jigs and jigs with belly blades. Suddeth Crankbaits were developed in South Carolina back in the early 1980s and Joey bought the company from the brothers that started it about ten years ago.
A few years ago there were problems with Suddeth Crankbaits. Joey had some health problems, took about a year and a half off from working with the crankbaits, and the crankbaits produced during that time often did not run right. Those problems have been corrected now. Each and every crankbait he produces is now hand tuned in a tank at the plant before they go out the door.
Joey has also invested many thousands of dollars in new molds to insure each bait is exactly right. The new molds mean better quality and uniformity of the baits. A thicker, sturdier wire is used in them to keep them from becoming “untuned” when they bounce off cover, too.
“I try to make the baits fishermen want, and will make any color bait a customer wants to order,” Joey said. All of the baits produced by Suddeth and Blademaster are hand made and painted. He has also teamed up with John Kissel of Kissel Krafts Custom Rods to develop the perfect crankbait rod, called the Little Early Rod.
Crankbaits in the Suddeth series include the well known Little Earl and Boss Hog. The Fat Earl is made to bounce off cover better and the new Pot Bellied Hog is coming out soon. It is a square billed bait that runs shallow and has a profile that should drive bass wild. He is also coming out with the Big Boss Hog, a bigger version of the Little Boss Hog.
All Suddeth crankbaits currently come with sharp hooks but the hook design Joey likes best is being discontinued so he is looking at different companies for future hooks. No matter which company he goes with he will make sure the hooks are sharp right out of the box and hold bass that hit.
Suddeth baits currently come in 67 different colors and color combinations. One of the best for February fishing in stained water is the 049 color. This bait has a brown back and chartreuse sides and produced most of the bass we caught a couple of weeks ago.
The most popular color of Suddeth Crankbaits is the GGG “dollar bill” color, or green/gold/glitter bait. The 026 color is very good in clear to stained water and looks like a baitfish. Both the 049 and 026 are good colors to have with you on any lake you fish this time of year.
Joey took me fishing in mid-January with one of his pro staff, Ken Cothran, who fishes the Bulldog BFL, Stren series and FLW Tour and FLW Series tournaments, the last two on the co-angler side. He also fishes many local team, pot and charity tournaments. They showed me where and how to fish crankbaits in February on Jackson Lake, a small lake in middle Georgia known for good crankbait fishing in the winter.
“Where you fish a crankbait in February is important,” Joey said. Points are always a key, with main lake points with deep water nearby usually producing the best bites this time of year. Rocks and hard clay are needed to draw bass to the point to feed, and some brush or stumps definitely help.
Main lake points are usually best in early February but as the days warm later in the month the bass will move back into the creeks and coves. Start out on the main lake but don’t hesitate to work back into the creeks, hitting points in them near deep water.
Sunny days draw bass up on the points in more shallow water and a little wind helps make them bite better. Some current running across the cover on the point definitely makes the bass more active. Bass will move in on these points and feed, so Joey and Ken keep moving, looking for active fish. If they catch one they will stick around for a while but will definitely come back since fish move in and out where they are feeding.
Crank the bait down with seven or eight turns of the reel handle then slow down the retrieve, working the bait very slowly across the point and through the cover. Suddeth baits are tuned to have good action at a very slow speed, which makes them ideal in cold water.
Ken says water colder than 40 degrees makes the bite extremely tough but water 45 to 50 degrees, which is more typical in February, means decent fishing. A few warm days in a row, making the water temperature increase, turns the fish on and we often have series of warm days this month like that. When the water temperature goes over 50 degrees the bite gets much better.
Keep your boat in fairly close to the point and work around it casting at an angle, fishing from the bank out. Angle casts like that keep your bait in the feeding zone and does not waste time. Bass usually feed from very shallow out to about ten feet deep on these points and that is the depth you want to cover.
We have all had it happen. The guy with us, using the same bait, line and even rod and reel, will catch more bass than us. The way you work the crankbait can make a huge difference. Joey and Ken both say try different things until the fish tell you want they want.
Try a steady, very slow retrieve first. Always try to bump the bottom with your crankbait. Most crankbait strikes are reaction strikes and bumping cover will make them hit. When you are reeling slowly the bait will turn on its side then move off, much like an injured baitfish, just what the bass want.
Also try a stop and go retrieve. Crank your bait down to the bottom then work it with your rod tip and reel, making it pause and then move forward. Again, it looks like and easy meal when moving erratically like this.
Suddeth makes both floating and sinking models of their crankbaits. With the floating models when you pause the bait will sit in one place, and then slowly rise. Try pausing floating baits for varying amounts of time, going from a pause where the bait just hesitates in one place, to one where the bait floats up several inches to a foot.
The slow rise of a bait will sometimes make a reluctant bass hit it. If you don’t get the reaction strike this pause and rise can make the difference. When a bass is not feeding actively they still can’t turn down such an easy meal.
With the sinking baits, do the same thing. The very slow fall of the Little Earl sinking model makes it look easy to eat, and the baits will settle to the bottom upright, looking like a baitfish that is trying to hide from the bass by not moving.
Wood cover definitely holds bass this time of year on the points and the square bill Pot Bellied Hog is made to bounce off shallow wood. It will run about three feet deep and is perfect for those sunny warm days at the end of a warming trend when the bass hold very shallow to take advantage of the warmer surface water.
Run it over any wood you see or know is there and the bait bill will hit it and make it deflect off it without getting hung like a round bill will do. Try the stop and go and the steady retrieve even when fishing this shallow, offering the bass different views of the bait.
Try to hit the wood. This seems like a bad idea when throwing a crankbait but the deflection off wood is often what is needed to get a bite. You may get hung up some, but you will get hung up on a bass more often if you bump your crankbait through the wood cover. The floating models of both baits work much better than the sinking models around wood cover.
With deeper wood try the Fat Earl. The shape of the lure will help it stay off the wood when you hit it, doing the same kind of action as the square bill in more shallow water. Bump the wood and pause it, or bump the wood and keep it moving, for different actions. But try both and let the bass tell you which they like best.
The line, rod and reel can make a big difference in crankbait fishing. A rod designed for crankbait fishing like the Kissle Little Earl rod has a parabolic action that makes for better casting and helps keep bass from pulling off when hooked. Reels are a personal choice but should have a good drag system and allow you to reel the lure at different speeds.
Joey and Ken like monofilament line like Trilene Big Game in ten pound test. Monofilament line has some stretch and is less likely to allow the bass to pull off the hook. Ten pound line is heavy enough to get bass away from cover but thin enough to let the bait work at the depth it is designed to run.
Most of the Suddeth crankbaits come with a rattle but some don’t, and Joey says he thinks bass in cold water often want a silent bait. If you are throwing a rattling model and not getting bites, try the ones without a rattle. This often happens in water that is clear. A rattle almost always helps in muddy water.
Crankbaits are great baits to fish right now, no matter where you fish. Give Suddeth baits a try and see if they produce for you like they do for Joey and his pro staff. You will be happy with the new, improved versions of the older models and the new baits coming out right now will offer you the ability to fish even more ways.
Joey’s website at https://www.joeybaskins.com/blademaster-lures shows all his lures and great colors. And you can check out more information on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Blademasterlures
Many sporting goods stores carry Blademaster Lures and Suddeth baits and you can order directly from the site, as well as contact Joey about any custom colors you want him to paint a bait for you on the site.