Jay Kumar

Fishin’ Tip: Squarebills in the ’40s

Dave Mansue with some basses (BASS photo).

I’ve never done it. Never fished a crankbait in water that cold. As Brian recently mentioned in an early-spring bait selection post, I like to swim a jig in early spring. It works, I have confidence in it, etc.

Have tried a spinnerbait, that can work too for me, but not a crankbait – except sometimes for smallies, now that I think about it.

Maybe you’re like me – can’t imagine cold-water crankin’, haven’t done it (yet). If so, here are a few tips from Yamaha pro Dave Mansue, courtesy of Yamaha.


“I start using squarebills when the water temperature is still in the high ’40s. This
may seem too cold to be fishing such shallow depths, but in early spring, bass are already starting to move toward spawning areas.”


“Basically, you can fish a squarebill crankbait in the same places you’d fish a spinnerbait, but a squarebill has a completely different profile. Its shape and swimming action mirror the small sunfish that hover around shallow cover, so bass are accustomed to seeing them and chasing them down to eat.”

[I get what you’re saying, Dave, but I’m not seeing any small sunnies when the water is in the 40s!]


“In the colder water I use a slower retrieve so the lure wobbles more and bass can feel it coming.

“I reel it directly into rocks or stumps, then jerk it with my rod to make it move even more erratically. A lot of fishermen hesitate to throw these lures into thick cover because of the treble hooks, but being able to work a squarebill through limbs and branches truly separates it from other lures.

“I’ve learned this over and over through the years, especially living here on Toledo Bend, which is filled with stumps and submerged timber. In fact, I’ve experienced many times when I’ve followed other anglers down a shoreline filled with laydowns and caught bass with a squarebill when they never had a strike with a spinnerbait.”


“Much of the time, especially in colder water, the strikes aren’t hard at all. The lure just starts feeling ‘heavy’ and the wobbling stops. That’s when I know a bass has it.”


Dave usually fishes squarebills with 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon line, but in  particularly heavy cover or dingy water he may change to braid.



  1. BryanT

    March 29, 2011 at 7:32 am

    In the north, the fish deal with 30* water for 5 months. 40*+ water is warm. Sqaurebills work great as the bass start feeding up moving out to the current areas of the Miss. R. Also remember in the north the water goes from 38* to 65* in about 30-45 days. They know the spawn is right around the corner and feed very aggressively in the cold.

    I also had an epic day on Amistad on valentines day in 2007 when I caught a little over 33lbs for 5 fish on DD22’s in 46-48* water.

    Never too cold for any cranks, especially in the north.

  2. 5bites

    March 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    If I said I fished a wiggle wart I bet you could figure out what part of the country I’m from.

    • admin (mostly Jay)

      March 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      Vermont, right?

  3. 5bites

    March 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Yea Vermont but I drive to the ozarks to throw the wart.

  4. Chad Aaron

    March 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    One of the most consistant days I’ve had on a crank was on Pickwick with a water temp. of 45`. At one spot I caught eleven largemouths between two and five pounds on as many casts. That was the beginning of my love for Luhr Jensen.

  5. Jacob Robinson

    March 30, 2011 at 3:22 am

    This past duck season i took a rod with a shallow crank on it and hit a few docks on the way back to the landing. Caught exactly 2 fish off of each dock.

  6. Alex Voog

    April 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I’ll throw a square bill until the hooks keep hanging up on the ice….

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