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Sure, they make dandy jig trailers, but if you think that’s the only job for a soft plastic craw, you’re missing the boat. Make that “boat flip.”

In truth, the bait designed to mimic a prominent winter-early spring bass forage can be your shortstop, your strong safety: a bait that can handle multiple duties.

Favoring the Gene Larew Punch Out Craw that he helped design, FLW Tour pro Jacob Wheeler recently showed me seven different craw applications ranging from expected to edgy.

Note: Wheeler’s Punch Out Craw comes with broad claws connected at the tips and lightly linked to a center tail flapper. Separating these pieces and, in some cases, removing them alters the action for a given presentation.

1. Texas Rig: Rigged with a 4/0 flipping hook and a pegged sinker.

2. Punching: A 1 1/2- to 2-ounce pegged weight drives the bait through heavy vegetation, while removing the claws streamlines the package.

3. Football Head: Classic cold season bait choice for rumbling across rocky bottom.

4. Flipping Jig: Removing the tail flapper frees up the claws for maximum motion.

5. Buzzbait: The added bulk increases casting distance and profile. (Half inch bitten off head for proper hook spacing; tail flapper removed.)

6. Bladed Swim Jig: Ditto the buzzbait deal.

7. Buzz Toad: One of the more creative uses for a craw, Wheeler rigs his bait unweighted on a 5/0 extra wide gap hook and briskly retrieves it over matted grass. Straight up reaction bite stuff, right there.

Remember, baits are limited only by angler creativity. An open-minded approach leads to greater productivity.

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