Doesn’t matter what the package says, serious bass anglers want to know about a bait’s action and, in the case of crankbaits, how deep they run.

For many, a swimming pool doubles as their research lab. Bassmaster Elite pros Jason Christie, Takahiro Omori and Terry Scroggins are known for their intense study of lures retrieved through chlorinated water.

FLW Tour pro Pete Ponds has devised an innovative approach to testing crankbait running depths that provides clear-cut results.

Ponds built his own test device by clipping a 20-foot length of flat, cotton ribbon to a hole drilled at either end of an 8-foot piece of PVC and attaching foot-long rectangular Styrofoam floats to the other end of each ribbon. The ribbons are marked in 12-inch increments so wrapping or unwrapping a foot at a time allows Ponds to set that PVC pipe at whatever depth he needs.


With his device deployed in the lake, he simply lines up a cast beyond the floats, cranks his bait through the uprights and notes what depths each bait will hit. Since his PVC pipe will be suspended in open water, a sudden bump tells Ponds he’s hit the cross bar. However, he’s rigged a piece of fluorocarbon line across the PVC to catch impacting crankbaits like the tail hook used on aircraft carriers.

“I use this device when I’m helping design new baits and testing new models,” Ponds said. “I need to know exactly how deep each of my baits will go.”

Naturally, factors such as line size, casting distance and retrieve speed affect a crankbait’s depth, but Ponds takes all this into consideration and strives to keep these factors uniform.

Conveniently, Ponds’ bait testing device is collapsible and easily stored for travel. If the wind fiddles with his operation, or if he needs more depth, he simply packs up and heads to another spot.

Can’t do that with a swimming pool.