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Fish Square Bill Crankbaits in the Spring

By George Fiorille

Bass anglers that fish a lot know that in spring, one of the best lures for catching quality and quantity of fish is by using square bill crankbaits. These “fish catching dudes” work well during other seasons as well. Just casting a square bill randomly may catch some fish. But by using proven techniques used by professional fishermen, you will catch more and bigger bass.


One of, if not the first modern day crank bait was created by Cotton Cordell. Cordell’s hand carved bait out of wood was the Cordell Big O. Cotton taught early anglers that you should burn your bait back very fast to entice more strikes. Over the years, square bills have been responsible for winning loads of tournaments along with a bunch of world championships.

For several years, avid square bill enthusiasts believed they had to use baits made from wood for action and floatability. To this day, some anglers still firmly believe that you must use hand carved baits for better fish catching abilities. But most companies have copied the properties of wood baits with plastics.


Different Size Baits and Construction Give Different Results

Two of the most popular sizes of square bill baits made by most manufacturers are sizes 1.5 and 2.5. They can even be found in sizes up to 6.5 and in sizes as small as 0.7.

Most popular versions of square bills come in 3 different versions. The most popular square bill is one with metal rattles. This type of bait can attract bass especially in murky or windy water conditions.

Baits with a deep rattle sound can trigger bass in dirty water situations as well. These square bills usually have a single lead insert that gives a thumping sound. Some bass pros firmly believe that these types of baits will catch larger bass.

While the two types of baits mentioned can trigger bass in dull water and low light conditions, bass also seem to get conditioned to these baits. Avid square bill anglers will switch to a silent bait with no rattles after a rattling bait effectiveness drops or in clear calm water.

Pro Pointers

Square bills also come in the usual fat version along with slim ones. Thinner square bills have become increasingly popular in the past few years. Another thing to consider is also when is a slim square bill better than a fat one?

Thin bodied squarebills have a tighter wiggle and many crankbait fisheremen belive you should use them when the water is cold or the fish are inactive. The fatter ones have a wide wobble and usually work better on active fish or when the water is warmer.

Line diameter, reel speed ratio, casting distance, and others can affect how fish will strike your square bill. Many inexperienced bass anglers have questions about how to prefer to target one structure over another when using square bills?

Many bass fishermen differ on what rod, reel, and line to use. Anglers use 3 different types of rods when using square bills. Some prefer to use all graphite for better sensitivity. One of the most popular is to use a half graphite/half fiberglass that will deaden the feel to give the bass an extra split second to engulf the bait. The third option that really deadens the feel is an all-fiberglass rod. Shorter rods in the 6’ plus range give better accuracy than 7’ plus in close quarters.


Some bass fishermen like to use a 5-1 slow bait cast reel for inactive fish or for ones in cold water. Others will use a 7-1 ratio reel or higher to burn the bait back.

Many avid bass anglers will use fluorocarbon line for square bills. Some like monofilament and even others use braided line. Former BASS Classic winner and Angler of the Year Davey Hite once showed me a unique pattern with square bills years ago. This while paired with him during a Bassmaster Top 100 as a co-angler.

He was cranking square bills on suspended largemouth bass on Lake Champlain with 30-pound braided line. We threw a Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS 2 with medium heavy casting rods. We would crank the bait down into submerged grass and rip them out. The bass would charge the baits as a reaction strike when ripped out. The thin braided line will cut the grass like wire would.

Squarebill color selctions come in many different variations. Many avid crankbait anglers like to keep their color selections simple. A selection of 3 colors can handle most situations. Try carrying colores such as shad, bluegill with some chartruse, and a red craw color.

You can have a blast in the springtime with square bill crank baits. Keep the colors simple, don’t be afraid to bump them off cover, burn it fast, and hang on. Fish On!

Read More: Kevin VanDam's Favorite Crankbaits

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