Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits (All Types)

Finding the right fishing reel can be an overwhelming task for some fishermen. There seem to be so many variables to consider many fishermen don’t know where to start.

One of the biggest factors for a fishing reel is the speed at which the lure is retrieved through the water. The gear ratio of the fishing reels is critical to success using crankbaits especially.

You will find that the best gear ratio for crankbaits will vary depending on the type of crankbait. The best average gear ratio for crankbaits will be 6.0:1 to 6.4:1.

What Kind of Crankbait Do You Use Most?

Choosing the right gear ratio for your new fishing reel is often dictated by your baits. If you watch professional fishermen, you notice that they often change rods and reels when they change the baits’ style.

Different kinds of crankbaits need different retrieval speeds. Typically, a professional fisherman will have a different reel, with different gear ratios set up for different types of crankbaits.

Understanding Crankbaits

Take a stroll down the aisle at your local fishing store where they rack up the lures and you may be amazed at the different styles, colors, sizes, and types of crankbaits for sale.

Before you step off into crankbait fishing it is important to understand a bit more about these popular fishing lures.

Type of CrankbaitRetrieval DepthRetrieval SpeedRecommended Gear Ratio
Deep Diving12 – 20 feetSlow5.0:1 to 6.0:1
Medium Diving6 – 12 feetSlow to Medium5.4:1 to 6.2:1
Shallow Diving0 – 6 feetMedium6.0:1 to 6.4:1
Lipless 0 – 12 feetFast6.4:1 to 7.0:1
Minnow Style0 – 6 feetVariable5.4:1 to 6.4:1
Topwater0 feetVariable 5.4:1 7.0:1

Different Baits, Different Gear Ratios

Most bass fishermen know that different baits require different techniques. Therefore, it is so important to match the gear ration on your real with the type of bait you are using.

Much like a golfer has different clubs for different distances and situations, a fisherman may have different rod and reel setups for different types of bait.

The most used baits and the recommended gear ratio for use with baitcasting reels include the following,

Deep-Diving Crankbaits

Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits

As the name suggests, deep-diving crankbaits are mostly used in open deeper water where the bottom is hard or rocky.

The design of the deep-diving crankbait causes it to dive deeper the faster it is retrieved and can be fished at a constant depth if your retrieval speed is steady.

Ideally, the gear ratio for a deep-diving crankbait is between 5.0:1 to 6.0:1. This gear ratio allows a slow and steady retrieve speed with a lot of extra work.

Pulling a large deep-diving crankbait can take a lot of extra effort and the lower gear ratio is much less tiring.

Medium Diving Crankbaits

Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits

The post-spawn period in most sighing waters features water temperatures in the 40 to 50-degree range. This temperature range creates a fishing zone that is perfect for medium-depth crankbaits. Presentation is the key with medium-depth crankbaits.

For wide body baits, the wide wobbling action is often interpreted as a crayfish. This requires a slower presentation. A reel with a gear ratio of 5.4:1 is often perfect, especially if you are fishing over a rocky bottom.

In clear water, thin flat-sided medium-depth crankbaits require more speed to trigger spikes from hungry patrolling fish. A gear ratio of 6.2:1 is often preferred by fishermen using this type of crankbait. 

Shallow Crankbaits

Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits

If you like to fish close to the shoreline where tangles and brush can be a problem, a shallow diving crankbait with its short bill and wider head can give you an advantage.

The wiggling action of this type of bait seems almost irresistible to fish.

Shallow crankbaits need a higher gear ratio than deep-diving crankbaits. Shallow diving crankbaits create less drag and don’t need the power of a very low gear ratio.

A reel with a gear ratio of 6.0:1 or slightly higher is usually the most efficient for fishing shallow diving crankbaits.

Lipless Crankbaits

Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits

Lipless crankbaits don’t dive, but they do sink. The slim shape and flat sides impart a swimming motion to the bait when retrieved.

This produces a strong vibrating action that attracts fish. In most instances, the faster the wobble, the higher the vibration and the better the action. 

A fast retrieve is a key to fishing a lipless crankbait. Since the bait doesn’t have a lip and is typically much thinner, the resistance created in the water is less, which requires less effort.

Consequently, a gear ratio of 6.4:1 to 7.0:1 is the choice of most fishermen using these types of crankbaits.

Minnow-Style Crankbaits

Minnow-style crankbaits might be considered a hybrid crankbait. Often called jerk-baits, minnow-style crankbaits can be twitched, trolled, cranked, suspended, or top-water style.

Minnow crankbaits resemble lipless crankbaits. The minnow crankbaits are usually longer and slenderer.

There are now some minnow-style crankbaits with bills to aid in diving to depth. The bills are usually small and steeply angled. The method of fishing these crankbaits determines the best gear ratio.

However, since these baits tend to be fished fast to impart a better swimming action, a slightly higher gear ratio often works better. Something about 5.4:1 to 6.4:1 can be used successfully with minnow-style crankbaits.

Top-Water Crankbaits

Best Gear Ratio For Crankbaits

Top-water crankbaits are further categorized by the way they are fished, the action they produce, and how they are presented on the water.

Some of these are not really crankbaits. However, some fishermen are often categorized as crankbaits because they are moved through the water to stimulate fish to strike.

Top-water crankbaits are fished fast to create noise and vibration in the water. Many top-water crankbaits include spinners and other noise-making devices.

A reel with a higher gear ratio is usually preferred for fishing these lures. Gear ratios between 5.4:1 and 7.0:1 can be effective with many styles of top-water crankbaits.

Final Thoughts

Crankbait fishing can be some of the most exciting freshwater sports fishing. Where you fish, the species of fish you are trying to catch, and the type of crankbait you anticipate using all contribute to the best setup. Good luck and good fishing

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