Raise Your Crankbait Volume

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

Many crankbaits contain rattles. A few do not. In either case, adding more rattles will accomplish two things: more sound and weight.

Adding Rattles

Adding additional rattles creates a totally different sound. If the original lure has rattles with more of a "knocking" sound, adding smaller rattles will add audio contrast. Or if the crankbait doesn't have any rattles, it will have a new sound, no longer being a silent runner. Adding rattles also adds a little bit more weight. The weight will allow longer casts, enable the bait to run a bit deeper, and slightly reduce the buoyancy of the bait making it rise to the surface slower when it deflects off cover or is hesitated. In the muddiest water, rattles are like a homing device for bass to locate lures. In the clearest water, longer casts are always an advantage. In colder water, a slower rise enables the lure to stay in front of the fish longer.

Adding rattles to a crankbait isn’t all that difficult. Remove the hooks from the lure to avoid getting hooked. Next, you need rattles. I like to use either BBs or smaller buckshot. Any metal or glass round objects will work. Lead, brass, glass or a mix. But glass, while creating a unique sound, can chip or break.

I only add 3 of the buckshot or 2 of the BBs to a bait, as I don’t want to add too much weight as much as I only want to add noise. Each bait is different so experiment.

Before you drill or add weights, tape the extra rattles to the belly of the bait and float in the sink to see how it affects the buoyancy. Adding weight involves drilling a hole either in the belly or on the back.

The best thing to do is to find a bait like the one you are adding rattles to and try to find a clear version of the lure. This will show you where to drill holes. Find a spot where the walls of the plastic are thinner and not where the bait has extra-reinforced plastic for assembly. Some lures have internal sealed chambers, so placing the rattles will affect the position the bait has in the water. Sometimes this can be an advantage as applying the weight to the forward chamber will allow the bait to run deeper and placing them toward the back will make the lure "pull" with a harder action.

Adding Rattles

If you can't find a clear version of the bait, you can scrape away some of the paint to reveal the clear body to choose your target area for a hole or just drill in the belly between the belly hook hanger and the nose of the bait. This way if there is a forward chamber, and you are planning on this location, you will find it.

Once the internal chamber or a target spot has been located, use a drill bit that is close to the size of either the BBs or buckshot. Carefully mark the exact spot keeping it in the centerline of the crankbait to avoid affecting the action of the lure. Drill the hole.

I place tape on the drill bit about 1/4 inch from the tip so I don't go too deep while drilling to avoiding drilling into the bait and out the other side. Also start with a slightly smaller drill bit keeping the hole to be repaired as small as possible. You can use the smaller bit to gently ream the hole a bit bigger if the fit is too tight.

After inserting the rattles, next comes covering and sealing the hole you drilled. I like to use thicker filler, like two party putty. The putty doesn't run so it won't enter the lure chamber.

Make sure you allow the putty to dry and harden with the added weights on the opposite side of the lure by keeping the repaired hole in an upright position.

 After the putty hardens, sand lightly to smooth out and use Jann's Netcraft Jig & Vinyl paint to touch up and seal with Jann's Seal Coat.

You can also cover up the hole patch and add more weight with a Suspend Dot. This is a round lead sticker that will add weight, if this is what you want, and cover the hole.

You can also plug the hole with a plastic bead of the same size. Insert a nail into the bead and give it a slight tap. The bead will break in half. Glue one of the halves into the hole and sand it smooth after the glue hardens. Put the hooks back on the bait and you are ready to fish!

Experiment with rattle components — put them into the bait and shake. Listen for the different sound combinations.

Use a marker and write the contents on the side of the bait or keep track of the rattle ingredients to find which combo seems to work best either for catching fish or accomplishing longer casts or slower rise.

Capt. Steve Chaconas is a Potomac River bass fishing guide, and contributor for BoatUS.com. Read Capt. Steve Chaconas' Fishing Blog