Mother nature has given us a huge break this year – minimal snow and warming trends that suggest we’ll be ice free in just a couple of weeks. So that means your boat better be ready to go and you have a couple of lures that you absolutely need to have tied on.
Flat-sided crankbaits and lipless options are king. I have certainly improved my early-season fishing game over the last couple years and I have these two lure categories to thank. First up is the Strike King HC 1.5 Flat Side Crankbait. It entices fish when other lures simply cannot. To be fully transparent, I think this is the most underrated lure in Strike King’s product depth. The action is the reason for the season and success. Choose a bait that does not move aggressively from side to side that you can cast with a baitcaster, yet keep the big ones buttoned as soon as they hit. While it can catch the cold water big ones, it can still be tricky to cast if your baitcasting reel isn’t dialed in. Here’s my biggest tip: dial in your reel brakes so that you aren’t putting too much effort into the cast. Loosen the reel to where you can easily (but softly) cast the crankbait. You’ll gain a lot more distance and reduce backlashes.
My second choice would be a lipless crankbait. I tend to go for lower pitch rattles this time of year, or even silent models if you have them readily available. I’ll break out the high-pitched rattles in April and May, but for now, try something a bit more low key. When it comes to colors, there’s no better than The Red Eye Shad in Chili Craw or Delta Red. If you’re chasing smallmouth, there’s no reason to have another color tied on for the next 4-6 weeks. If you’re chasing largemouth, go for craw or perch colors. If you’re around fish, you’ll end up with your first catch of the year on one of these baits.
If you’re local, you can find them at Becker’s Tackle Shop, North 40, Ace on Argonne and out at Black Sheep in Coeur d’Alene. Or click the names of the lures to browse Tackle Warehouse!