things are chillin out, the grass is dying, and the shad aren’t too far behind – schooling up for a final rally. from fall thru early spring – especially on lakes with decent shad populations – one of my standards is a square bill style crank. there are a bunch out there and they all have their own little nuance but in general i separate them by those that have a truly “square bill” and those that are slightly rounded at the tips. my overall favorite falls into the rounded tips category: the lucky craft bds. the rounded tips tend to give the bait a tighter wobble and a better ability rip grass. although they work reasonably in wood, if i’m mainly fishing stumps or docks etc i’ll move towards the old rc 1.5 or 2.5 that provide a more cornered bill (it just deflects off the cover better and provides a bit more protection from getting snagged).
i tend to fish them in a sort of a fused trap/spinnerbait type approach. for me they fill the gap of a finesse style ripping bait as well as a finesse style spinnerbait that i’m able to pull thru some fairly thick cover even with trebles. there are a variety of ways to toss it but if i had to pick one setup for most of my applications i’d go with a 7 foot medium glass rod, a 6:2:1 geared reel, spooled up with 15# flourocarbon. there are obvious exceptions to the rule however, say for instance if you were throwing to bank laydowns you’d probably want to shorten and stiffen up the rod a bit (go to a 6′-6’6″ graphite rod – maybe even switch over to mono to float the bait up more). in general however the glass combo increases hook ups on those more subtle bites (as you’ll see in the vids below) and the flourcarbon slows the baits rise slightly as well as offereing a bit lower stretch which can be integral when it comes to post-frontal/cold water fish.
here’s a playlist of square bill fish from winter thru spring. if you watch all the vids you’ll see a bit of a pattern, nearly all the fish come off a reaction bite – usually after ripping the bait off grass or wood. some of the best water for this applications are grass/wood/stump flats adjacent to a drop/river channel.