Shallow Square Bill Crankbait

How to Throw a Shallow Square Bill Crankbait in Cold Water

Fishing a shallow square bill crankbait around wood in the wintertime is one of the best ways to break down cold, shallow water. As water temps drop into the forties, the bite slows drastically and a lot of anglers put down their power-fishing gear and abandon shallow water altogether. Contrary to popular belief, bass stay shallow year-round. That’s right, winter, spring, summer and fall. Not all bass obviously, but some. And some of those some are big ones.

catch more bass fishing app banner 1

Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Approach

So how do you modify your approach to fish a square bill in shallow and cold water?

Well for starters, you certainly have to slow down. Way down. Not just your retrieve, but also the speed at which you cover water. You have to be much more thorough.


Bass are cold blooded, and cold blooded animals become lethargic in cold environments. So a bass isn’t likely to chase a bait like it would in warmer water conditions. Therefore you have to be really thorough when breaking down an area.

Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Slow Down Your Retrieve

As previously mentioned, slowing your retrieve is important. On a few particularly cold trips when the water temperature was in the low forties, I have actually had to slow my retrieve to where I could just barely feel the bait wobbling back and forth. At times, I would feel as though I had a leaf or a small stick hung on my bait only to have a 3-pound bass roll over and come to the surface. I have caught bass this way that were so lethargic they would still have mud on their bellies where they had been sitting in one place for a long time and hadn’t fought at all on the way to the boat.

I know this is hard to believe.

I didn’t want to believe the first person that told me he had seen that either. But I did believe him. Because that lesson came on the heels of a 15-pound beat down my dad delivered to me in a club tournament. Three of us fished the same area all day. I had two fish for 3-pounds and the other guy zeroed. I went back out the next day and slowed down. Then I slowed down even more. And then finally when I had slowed my retrieve to the brink of boredom, I got bit. A 2-pounder, fighting like a twig, with mud on his belly when he came into the boat.

Shallow Square Bill Crankbait(1)

That made me a believer.

Shallow Square Bill Crankbait: Find the Cover

A bass’s lethargic nature in cold water is what makes cover so important. It gives bass an ambush point to sit by in hopes that something will come along that they can eat without exerting much energy. Cover also helps us as anglers fish slowly with confidence. Because the only thing harder than crawling a bait this slow is doing so without a target. You also want to focus on sunny banks in the wintertime. That’s not to say you want get bit in the shade, but your chances certainly go up around cover in the sunshine.

Shallow Square Bill Crankbait(2)

But just because you know where to throw, doesn’t mean you’re going to get bit.

Not necessarily right away at least. I have also, on several occasions, had to throw at a piece of cover multiple times in order to get bit. You can find a really good example of that at the 3 minute mark of this video I shot when the water temp was 47-degrees.

In summation, you can still catch bass on shallow square bill crankbaits in extremely cold water, but it won’t be easy. You have to be very disciplined and dedicated to get a bite and when you do, you’ve got to make that bite count because they’ll likely be few and far between.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

Shaye Baker


Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and, and While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.

Read more from Shaye >>

Follow Shaye on:

ANGLR Expert, Shaye Baker

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *