Keith Combs on Which Crankbait Size to Use

It’s not just about the size of baitfish when it comes to crankbait size.

Keith Combs, crankbait size, largemouth bass, KVD 1.5
Keith Combs keeps a variety of baits on hand for all situations.

When it comes to square bill crankbait size, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs decides based on the action he is looking for. Strike King (and other brands) make several sizes. Their lineup includes 1.0, 1.5 and 2.5 sizes of their popular square bill crankbaits. Combs uses them all and has a specific time and place for each of them.

Strike King KVD 1.0

This bite-sized crankbait works when things get tough. “I pick this one up any time I need to fill out my limit and I don’t care how big they are. That’s not to say that it won’t catch big ones too, but the small hooks increase your chance of losing a giant on it,” says Combs. He likes the bait for its subtle action and tighter wiggle on the retrieve.

Strike King KVD 1.5

Keith Combs, crankbait size, KVD 1.5, square bill crankbaits, strike king lures

This is Strike King’s most popular size and the one that Combs always has ready to go. “The 1.5 in Tennessee Shad is my go-to and I always have one tied on,” adds Combs. This bait has a classic square bill action and runs true with a wide wobble on the retrieve.

Strike King KVD 2.5

The bulked up 2.5 excels for catching big fish and Keith Combs believes it has more to do with the action of the bait than the size. “It has a very wide, aggressive action. It’s also much more buoyant and will back out of cover immediately,” he says.

Color Choices and Retrieve Tips

Color selection always depends on water clarity, but Combs believes just three bait colors will cover all of your needs. His favorites are Tennessee Shad, chartreuse with black back and DB Craw.

Square bill crankbaits can be simply cast and retrieved, but they shine when making contact with the cover. If no cover is around, Combs will improvise. “If you snap your rod real quick once during the retrieve you will get the same effect of the bait changing directions. You don’t want to do it too much, but if you do it once a cast all day you will probably catch at least one extra fish,” he shares.

Rod, Reel, and Line

Keith Combs, crankbait size, KVD 1.5, square bill crankbaits, strike king lures
The setup. Note the custom marks added to the bait with a marker.

The same rod will work for all three of these baits and Combs prefers a Power Tackle 7’ Medium PG170 rod and will use two different reels depending on bait size. For the smaller 1.0, he opts for a 7.6:1 Shimano Chronarch CI4+ because it casts lighter lures very well. For the bigger cranks, he uses a Curado I in a 7.2:1 gear ratio.

When it comes to the line, he uses 12 or 15-pound Seaguar InvizX most of the time but will go up to 17-pound when fishing around heavy cover. He’ll also switch to a 15-pound Seaguar Rippin’ monofilament when he wants the bait to run shallower.

Choosing a crankbait size for some comes down to matching the hatch, but for Keith Combs, factoring in your desired action is just as important.

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