Winter Crankbait Fishing with Brandon Card

Winter crankbait fishing doesn’t have to be difficult. Simplify your bait selection and retrieves to catch more bass.

Bass will still eat a crankbait during the winter, it just takes a different approach. Shad profile baits have long been a staple for winter crankers and it has to do with the tight, wobbling action of these baits. Count Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Card is a fan of these lures when the temperatures dip.

His bait of choice is the Duel Hardcore Shad Crankbait, it comes in a 1+,2+ and 3+ size, yet the 3+ is his top choice. “It will get down to 10-feet on 10-pound line, and the 2+ will get down about seven feet,” he says. The best part about it according to Card is how you can cast it on baitcasting gear whereas other shad type crankbaits require light line and spinning rod.

“It has the action of a flat-sided balsa bait but is heavy enough to cast a long ways on baitcasting gear,” says the Tennessee pro. Spooky fish can be targeted much easier with a long cast and it makes all of the difference for maximizing your success when winter crankbait fishing.

Winter Crankbait Fishing
The Duel Hardcore Shad Crank in action

Locations and Retrieves

There are several types of places that Card looks for when throwing this bait. “Mostly it is on rocky banks, but also places where they transition to bluffs. On a sunny winter day the fish may move up and that is where you can go down the bank with the 1+ and 2+ and cast shallower.”

The retrieve can be a simple cast-and-retrieve or a mixture of pauses. Card will also pull the bait and then reel up the slack in ultra-cold conditions. Bottom contact is always important when cranking, but instead of crashing and digging into the bottom, Card has had more success with more subtle contact. “You want the bait to hit to bottom and roll off of the rocks,” he shares.


Card keeps it simple when it comes to colors for winter crankbait fishing, shad imitators and craws are about all you need. His cranking setup can be found below and he will change reels based on the water temperature and the gear ratio he needs.

winter crankbait fishing

Rod: Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 7’ Medium
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo Winch for water less than 50-degrees, due to 5.4:1 gear ratio. The Revo Premier 6.4:1 for water between 50 to 60-degrees
Line: 10-pound Yo-Zuri Top Knot 100% fluorocarbon

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