How do you choose which medium-diving crankbait to throw? Is it color? Price? Availability? Reputation? Let’s accept that all things are relative, and everyone has their own interpretation of what a “medium diving” crankbait is, so for the sake of saving that argument for another time we’ll say that a medium diving crankbait is anything that runs from 8-12 feet.
On the upper end of the price scale is the Lucky Craft series. It’s hard to deny that these are made of quality components. They tend to swim perfect out of the box, and have great hooks that touch each other (an essential aspect of crankbait selection). These hard baits have a sound design that offers great movement and noise combinations to support the color patterns that come with them. In a nutshell, they don’t just look pretty, they deliver. The downside to these baits is of course the obvious price tag. At $16-20 and up, they can be hard on your wallet! Especially when you know you have to fish them in tight areas with the need to constantly resist the fear of losing them in submerged structure (I always tell myself “You can’t marry them, dude”). They also can be a bit fragile, as I’ve broken a few bouncing them off rocks, bridge pilings, docks, or (ssshhhh) maybe even a boat or two parked in a slip.
At a slightly less damaging cost is the Rapala DT series. These baits come in a variety of sizes, depth ranges, and color patterns. While the name hasn’t changed, the design of the DT has had some small adjustments over the years (size, hook type, color scheme), and while I’m not sure of the reasons behind these changes, I can tell you that I strongly prefer the previous generation of the DT series, and I’m not alone in that opinion. The older DT series baits flat out caught more fish. These are still an effective lure, but their stock fell in my opinion.
Next we have the Bill Norman series. I started using these baits (roughly) three years ago at the advice of a guy whose opinion I really admire. They always swam well out of the box, cost half as much as Lucky Craft, and had a great, tight wobble that I really like when I crank. The baits hold up well to being bounced off of hard surfaces, have great hooks, and even offer color patterns that I can’t find in other baits. And while they’re not made of the same materials that Lucky Craft are, they’re hard to beat for the price (you can find them for $5-10).
The Storm Wiggle Wart is probably one of my least favorite in the medium diving category. That being said, Storm does make other baits that I absolutely LOVE. This series just doesn’t happen to be one of them. While the colors are great, and the wiggle (the tightest, and loudest in my opinion) will nearly shake the rod right out of your hand, they just never have produced for me at a level that would put the confidence I need to say it’s a “go to” for me. Again, other products—absolutely—just not this one.
Last but not least is the Live Target series. Falling at a price range of $12-17, they’re one of the more expensive models, and it’s hard to argue how beautiful they are. Live Target has perhaps the most impressive appearance of any crankbait in terms of detail and lifelike imaging. They were also the first company that I found to produce a craw-style crankbait that accurately displayed a craw realistically swimming in the backwards way they swim in real life (crayfish don’t swim quickly in a forward direction, they dart backwards). When these baits first came out I went all in, buying everything and anything they made, and I quickly sold them all, with the exception of those crayfish lures because those are the only ones I could get the fish to eat. But they ate them well. Especially in the green color.
In closing I know there are a lot of different opinions on crankbaits, and I know I mentioned only a very few of the many different brands there are to choose from. These are just a few that I get asked about the most. I know other guys who say they’ve caught HUGE fish on this lure or that lure, and you’re always gonna have that. Maybe you’re the kind of guy that only buys Lucky Craft, or maybe you only buy Norman’s because you refuse to spend $20 on a lure. Myself, I find that I have a mixed bag of things depending on color patterns that I have had success with, rather than marrying one manufacturer.
Besides, you can’t marry them anyhow, J. So throw whatever feels best to you.