Best Flat-Sided Crankbaits for Bass

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Crankbaits are effective lures for bass fishing and they are somewhat akin to wrenches in a tool box. Just because you have a wrench doesn’t mean it will be the right one for every job. Certain wrenches fit certain nuts and bolts and even adjustable ones, certain ones are better for certain jobs. So knowing the what, when and where of flat-side crankbaits and some of the best options will help you make good choices in your bass fishing.

There are lots of flat-sided crankbaits on the market and there has been an explosion in the last few decades of home-builders and small scale hand-crafters that make some mighty fine and impressive crankbaits by hand. It’s hard to get your hands on a lot of those so for our purposes we’ve tried to stick with the flat side crankbaits readily available to the public.

We’ve tested a long history of flat sides and have talked to some of the finest crankbait makers that have ever carved a bait to understand what makes flat sides special.

What is a flat-sided crankbait

While there is a great bit of variation and even debate on what constitutes a flat-side crankbait. Some believe it’s a flat profile and some believe it’s any bait that has a flat side on it. For our purpose it will be crankbaits with a thin profile as opposed to a round profile. We’ll explain why that matters. But for the most part a flat side crankbait is going to have a tighter wiggle as opposed to a wider wobble.

But part of the reason we are including a bunch of flat sides this season is because not one of them swims exactly like the other and that’s where we come in. You may have a specific thing you are looking for in a flat side. And without being able to test them all you have to make your best guess on which one will do what you hope it will do.

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In a few decades of shallow cranking flat sides there are things that matter and should be considered. Those include but are not limited to the following:

  • Action
  • Castability
  • Durability
  • Buoyancy
  • Bill construction
  • Hardware
  • Color options

While different flat sides are good at some of these things they may not be good at others or they may be the best at certain things. So we took it to heart to try to identify that for you in each crankbait so you can make informed decisions on flat side purchases and where to fish them. The old flat sides of yesteryear didn’t have great paint jobs and weren’t very durable. Making baits out of balsa with flimsy plastic lips lead to more wear and tear.

But today’s flat side boast much better paint jobs, swimming actions, durable lips and hardware and multiple modified buoyancy rates in much more castable versions of the crankbaits from years ago.

Why to choose a flat side for fishing

The real advantage to flat sides is they generally have a small profile with a very natural subtle wiggle that is often most appealing in colder waters or in ultra clear waters where fish might be more leery or conditioned to obtuse actions. When you want something to natural enter a fish’s strike zone and act very naturally, you’re going to want a flat side. They also excel at fishing in ultra shallow water like shallow banks in the spring and fall as well as major flats where other crankbaits might be to aggressive.

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I love flat sides on rocky banks in the prespawn. It’s a staple way I have fished for two decades and it’s proven time and time again to be one of the best ways to get big bass to trigger in those colder waters.

It’s equally exceptional in the fall when bass are chasing young shad up into the shallows of major creeks prior to the water getting cold and the bass and bait moving back deep for the winter. A flat side mimics a small shad very well in this scenario.

When should you fish flat-sided crankbaits

I love flat sides on rocky banks in the prespawn. It’s a staple way I have fished for three decades, and it’s proven time and time again to be one of the best ways to get big bass to trigger in those colder waters.

It’s equally exceptional in the fall when bass are chasing young shad up into the shallows of major creeks prior to the water getting cold and the bass and bait moving back deep for the winter. A flat side mimics a small shad very well in this scenario.

In the spring I really like craw colors and colors in between crawfish and shad that can pass for both in dingy dirty water which you find a lot in the early prespawn spring period. In the fall I really like shad colors best but will still go a little different than all the baitfish in the lake because the lake can be very dense with an abundance of baitfish and you need to stand out a little.

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Best Flat-sided crankbaits

The best of anything in fishing is obviously subjective as we all fish just a bit different than one another. But we’ve tried to be objective in measuring each baits buoyancy, castability, wobble/wiggle, deflection, durability and overall fishability. While we’ve included most of our favorites, we may add to this rundown as new crankbaits become available. I know of a couple that were just released that we haven’t quite got our hands on yet.

Here is a quick rundown of our picks for the Best Flat-Sided Crankbaits for Bass in 2022.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>