12 Great Crankbaits

They cover the water column from zero to 30 feet and beyond. A novice can catch fish with them, but in the hands of an expert they're magic. Serious anglers fill boxes with models designed for every depth and action. Here's a starter selection of classic and state-of-the-art crankbaits guaranteed to kick your game into high gear from the get-go. --Jerry Gibbs

RANGE: 0-3 FT.

BASS PRO SHOPS XPS LAZER EYE EXTREME SHALLOW CRANK Lifelike 3-D red eyes, finishes that increase refraction in bright sun, loud rattles and a chubby profile mark this 2-inch bait, which is ideal for triggering active fish. ($3.99; 800-227-7776; basspro.com)

BAGLEY B FLAT II Its flat sides produce the fastest wobble of any of Bagley's B baits. This one rises quickly when retrieve is stopped. The subdued finish is good for clear shallows and spooky fish. ($8.99; 800-869-9941; bagleybait.com)

CABELA'S JUNE FROG Whether you're using a stop-go retrieve to mimic a frog or a faster crank to suggest other forage, this bait runs with its back waking the surface. Its froggy look can't hurt, either. ($2.99; 800-237-4444; cabelas.com)

RANGE: 3-6 FT.

RAPALA DT4 Designed by crankbait king Dave Fritts, DT baits dive fast to their specific depths and stay there longer. On 10-pound-test mono this one gets to 4 feet, where spring bluegills both spawn and swipe bass eggs. ($5.99; 800-874-4451; rapala.com)

BOMBER MODEL A True-running even at fast speeds, the Model A is a time-proven workhorse that should be in everyone's crank box. A firetiger finish is good for aggressive fish and stained water. ($3.99; 479-782-8971; lurenet.com)

MANN THINN-MANN Weighted to produce a slow rise, this quiet bait runs with an ultra-tight wiggle thanks to its flat sides, and comes with red hooks that give a wounded look. ($6.45; 800-841-8435; mannsbait.com)

RANGE: 6-10 FT.

YAKIMA TIMBER TIGER DC8 A loud bait designed to bump through cover, the Timber Tiger has a skip-beat body motion and runs fine at slow and fast speeds. A great baitfish mimic in natural finish. ($6.65; 509-854-1311; yakimabait.com)

BAGLEY B FLAT II COFFIN LIP This diver deflects well through cover and produces a fast wobble. Works well even at ultra-slow speeds. ($8.99; 800-869-9941; bagleybait.com)

SMITHWICK DEEP ROGUE JR. This 3 1/2-inch bait has a rolling action similar to the larger Spoonbill Rogue. It'll maintain depth when trolled or cranked. ($5.00; 479-782-8971; lurenet.com)

RANGE: 10+ FT.

MANN DEPTH PLUS 30+ The deepest runner in Mann's Depth Plus series is a rattler that floats at rest, cranks to 30 feet and runs even deeper trolled. Its black back silhouettes well at depth. ($5.90; 800-841-8435; mannsbait.com)

RAPALA DT 16 An ultra-thin lip helps this bait dive quickly to 16 feet. The thin tail and rattle-equipped balsa body create a tight, vibrating motion. The chartreuse shows well in murky water. ($5.99; 800-874-4451; rapala.com)

BASS PRO SHOPS RICK CLUNN ETI-10 ORION Side rib indetentations produce turbulence to attract fish in discolored water. The coffin bill helps deflect rocks and timber. ($6.00; 800-227-7776; basspro.com)