Crankin’ The Heat Up
Phillip Gentry
At B’n’M we don’t think it’s too hot to fish, we think the fishing is too hot not to.
B’n’M designed the Pro-Staff trolling rod, a tough, yet sensitive pole that can stand up to the rigors of crankbait trolling for crappie.
Crankbaits are especially effective during summer when crappie will aggressively hit a larger bait.
Though practiced for many years, the modern era of crankbaiting kicked in with the help of Sardis Lake –based Bandit Lure Company.
“Crankbait trolling for crappie is a very technical system” said Driscoll, “but once you’re set up you can really catch a lot of fish and a lot of big fish through the summer times months when most people think it’s too hot to fish. With crankbait trolling, the hotter it gets, the better the fishing gets.”

When it comes to targeting crappie, several key ingredients make crank bait trolling work. One popular setup is to pull crank baits on rods that stagger along each side of the boat. To separate the baits, graduate the rods in length, starting with an 8 foot rod nearest the transom, then move forward to a 10 footer, a 12 footer, and finally a 14 foot rod nearest the front. Another key ingredient in this systematic approach to summer crappie fishing is a dependable rod holder system.

Pairing the crank baiting  rods with line counter reels will allow the crank baiter to precisely measures the distance each crank bait is trolled behind the boat. In this scenario, the 8 foot rod has the longest line, anywhere from 100 – 125 feet. The distance out decreases as the rod length increases, this way the crank baits stay separated. One variable is to rig the front rod, the 14 footer, as a down rod with a 2 ounce egg sinker that is attached 3 feet in front of the crank. The weight allows the long rod to run more perpendicular and targets fish at whatever depth fish are marked on the depthfinder. Line choice start at 12 pound hi vis line for murky water where stumps or timber may be encountered down to 6 pound test clear line for clear water with no obstructions. The high visibility and higher than average test line helps keep the cranks running straight and allows the angler to retrieve a bait if it gets snagged.

The depth of presentation of the crank baits is a coordination of variables including the amount of line out, working depth of the crank bait, and boat speed. Boat speed ranges on average between 1.0 mph and 2.5 mph. Such precise graduations in speed require the uses of a GPS enabled electronics system that will measure speed to the tenth of a mph. Higher poundage electric trolling motors or small kicker outboards will work to propel the boat at these speeds. Some anglers have success reducing the speed of bigger outboards through the use of trolling plates, wind socks or dragging 5 gallon buckets.

Which crankbaits to use is a matter of choice. Though many seasoned anglers have been trolling various cranks for many years, the modern era of crank baiting for crappie, a species not ordinarily targeted with such a big bait, began when some local Mississippi anglers discovered the virtues of a crankbait made right on the shores of Sardis Lake.

“I remember at least 10 years ago, a crappie angler approached us about painting some of our crankbaits in some unusual colors” remarked Bandit Lures CEO Chris Ross, “he said he was trolling them for crappie and was really wearing the fish out, especially on the brighter colors. We started offering some of these colors in our 300 series, which is a smaller crankbait with a deep diving bill. I can still tell when the local crappie get on a crankbait pattern because our bright pinks and pink with silver sparkles just fly out the door.”

With the sophistication of crappie crankbaiting techniques, just grabbing your “crappie poles” to go fishing no longer fit the bill. Creating the right tool for the job is what landed B’n’M Poles at the top of the panfish fishing rod industry. Consider your average largemouth bass angler. During a day of bass fishing, he may use one rod for cranking, one rod for worming, and another rod for flipping brush. Different tactics require different rods. The market needed a crankbait rod designed especially for crappie. That is how B’n’M’s Pro-Staff Trolling rod came into being.

B’n’M president Jack Wells had this explanation. “Some of my pro staff guys came to me one day and said “we need a rod that will have enough backbone to troll a 5 ounce sinker or pull 4 inch crank baits at 2 miles per hour and still have the sensitivity to land crappie,” he said.

“I didn’t ask why because these guys catch crappie all over the country, but I knew we had a job on our hands” said Wells. “To design this type of rod, we enlisted 10 of our top professional fishermen to create the best graphite trolling rod available. The Pro Staff Trolling Rod is the result of this research. This rod has a great blend of strength and tip action for even the most aggressive trolling enthusiasts.”

B’n’M Pro Staff Trolling rods comes in lengths from 8 to 16 feet. The rods are made of 100% graphite and come in 2 and 3 piece configurations for easy storage.

Too hot to fish? Here at B’n’M, we say the fishing is too hot not to fish. Grab a handful of crankbaits, some of our Pro-Staff trolling rods and go hit the water. When you do, visit  us on Facebook at and tell us how you did.