Science: Bait Buoyancy

Buoyancy – In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object’s weight. In fishing, it’s simply a good thing!

If you’re a fish, you want to be pretty much neutrally buoyant, allowing you to just hang in the water column effortlessly.

If you’re a bait, you can go be all sorts of variations. Negatively buoyant baits will sink to some degree, while positively buoyant baits float. High bouyancy baits like some crankbaits come through heavy cover great. Others, like suspending jerkbaits are weighted to counteract their normal buoyancy.

But the cool stuff is baits that don’t do what you necessarily expect. Here’s one example…

All Bandit crankbaits are NOT created equal!

What you’ll see is that some Bandits are faster risers with lots of buoyancy. They even have a slightly different angle at which they lay at rest on the waters surface. Yet other Bandits are slower risers with much less buoyancy and can easily be pushed under the waters surface with a good prodding. I’ve never figured out exactly why. Could be a difference over time with the plastic formulation they’ve used to mold them with. Perhaps a change in design or weighting. Doesn’t matter whether you’re testing 100’s, 200’s or 300’s. Some will pop right back up and some just take their sweet little time. They tend to align to a certain degree by color pattern, but this certainly isn’t an absolute either.

Regardless, if you were to look in my crankbait boxes, every Bandit in them will either have a tiny black dot on the throat or it won’t. That way I know at a glance which ones are the high floaters and which ones aren’t. Why does this matter? It matters tons at times as the buoyancy rate can be used to make these baits way more effective when paired to certain situations. For instance, in the spring and late fall when I’m fishing over newly growing or recent dieback vegetation in cooler water, a slow riser allows me to keep the bait down with a slower retrieve right in the strike zone. Same with cranking rock banks in the early spring. Tick, tick, tick as I can really slow the bait down and work it right along the rocks with added twitches and pauses and yet maintain depth. To make this even more effective be sure to add a couple Suspenstrips or similar to your slow risers. You don’t really want them to suspend, just to rise slowly under their own accord.

For your fast risers, these get the bulk of the work in the late spring or summer when burning baits over vegetation and ripping them through weeds. When fish have a faster metabolism and will react to a bait that pops up quick out of the vegetation. Another situation would be when cranking around wood where you want a bait that will back up and rise quick after running into the cover, often triggering a bite. Don’t add any extra weight to these.

Chances are you have both styles of Bandits in your boxes right now, but never even realized it.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. YankeeBasser

    July 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Great article! I believe every angler should develop a system of marking their baits in a way that is meaningful to THEM. Years ago I developed a system for marking on the bill of all my crankbaits, jerkbaits etc. At a glance I can tell things like actual running depth (which is often NOT what the manufacturers claim), whether the lure is a floater/diver, suspending or countdown model, whether or not it rattles and how loud, direction the bait is tuned to run and how quickly they rise. It has made a huge difference in choosing the right bait at times when many seem to look the same. I would be interested in hearing how other anglers mark their baits or work these things out for themselves.

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