We return to the fall favorites series with a look at one of the all-time greats, a squarebill crankbait. You can check out some of my other fall bass fishing favorites by clicking these links:
A squarebill in the fall is critical to my arsenal because it provides me with an all-terrain shad-imitator to accompany my open water lipless crankbait. As good as a Rat-L-Trap is, you don’t want to try to bring it through a treetop.
However, a good squarebill crankbait can bump and crawl its way through darn near anything.
Squarebill Crankbait – Why I Love the Bandit 100
The Bandit 100 is a staple in mine and my father’s boats. I’ve thrown a lot of different squarebills over the years and had good luck with several of them. During that time, my dad has stayed true to the Bandit and I have often found myself coming back to it time and time again, especially in the fall and winter.
There are two reasons I believe that is the case. Firstly, the bait just flat out gets bit. Some baits are like that. Whether its the color scheme or the action or the sound, I’m not sure. But there’s something about a Bandit 100 that just seems to draw a few more bites than other squarebills.
The second reason, in the right hands, the bait is virtually weedless. Now weedless may not be the best word here because I’m not saying you can reel it through hydrilla and not snag any grass. I’m referring to the baits’ ability to worm its way through heavy cover: laydowns, brush piles, rocks, stump fields, etc.
Unlike the intangible trait that makes the Bandit so effective at getting bit, I believe there are certain characteristics of the bill design that make the bait more effective at traversing heavy cover. The bill has rounded corners and a slightly flatter angle than a lot of other popular square bills. I believe these two characteristics allow the bait to deflect off cover without rolling as much as other squarebills.
Squarebill Crankbait – Understanding How the Bait Works
When making contact with an obstruction head-on, the lip of a squarebill will usually be the first thing to hit the object and as it dips down, the rear of the bait and the hooks pivot up. This is why if you keep steady pressure on the bait it will usually climb over the obstruction. Or if you pause the bait it will float over the cover. What you never want to do is snatch as soon as you feel something. That’s when you will get hung more often than not.
When you bump cover with any squarebill, a slow steady pull will typically bring the bait over it.
And if it’s a bass, that same slow steady pull will easily hook the fish given the bait has treble hooks which require little force in setting. Another important thing to be effective at this is not overpowering your rod selection. You need a rod with a soft tip so that you don’t hook the cover as soon as you feel it like you would with a heavy action rod. I recommend a 7’ 0” medium-heavy for this with 14-pound to 17-pound fluorocarbon depending on the cover and a reel with a good drag system.
All of that is to say this however, the area where a Bandit 100 stands out is when it hits a second piece of cover immediately after making contact with the first. A lot of squarebills will veer erratically after making contact or begin to roll. Say your bait bumps a limb on a laydown followed immediately by a consecutive limb, that’s when a lot of squarebills will hang up. But a Bandit has more of a crawling action after making that initial contact and stays nose down, hooks up which is much better when it meets that second, third, and fourth piece of cover.
This is extremely important in the fall and winter. Fish hang tight to cover in the winter, so the need for a bait to crawl slowly through that strike zone is evident. But in the fall, I’ll often find a vast area like a flat in the back of a creek that is loaded with shad and sparsely sprinkled with cover.
While I’ll catch several fish that are chasing bait on the flat, a lot of the bigger ones will come from the few pieces of cover. These bass are the dominant ones and they stake their claim around the few pick-off points available. If you lob a squarebill crankbait in and hang up on 4 out of the 5 pieces of cover present, you’re greatly reducing your chances of getting bit. Therefore, having a squarebill that can effectively cover the roughest terrain in the fall is critical. That’s why the Bandit 100 is one of my fall favorites.
Shaye’s Squarebill Crankbait Gear for the Fall
Bait: Bandit 100
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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