Clunn's Cranking Credibility
Rick Clunn knows crankbaits. Whether it was his astounding 1990 Bassmaster Classic win on the James River with a cedar "coffin-bill" diver, or his 2000 FLW Tour Wal-Mart Open victory on Beaver Lake with a shallow square-billed wobbler, or his impressive 2001 BASS Megabucks victory on an ultra-deep diving plug - Clunn has fashioned a legendary bass fishing career out of his knowledge of diving baits.
Of course, he is best known for his four Bassmaster Classic wins, three of which came on crankbaits. In addition, he has won 10 other BASS events and 3 FLW events. Of those 13 victories, 8 were achieved with crankbaits.
Essentially, Clunn has turned crankbaits into a science. He has spent hundreds of hours analyzing crankbait actions in an effort to identify their strike provoking qualities. He coined the term "deflection" to describe the way a crankbait should "bounce" off a piece of cover to trigger a strike.
Lucky Craft Lures tapped Clunn's rich crankbait knowledge when they set out to design the ultimate square-billed shallow diver.
"Wood crankbaits have always been heralded for having the best deflection properties," Clunn says. "However, wood baits are fragile; they have trouble standing up to the abuse a tournament angler can dole out during a rigorous day of cranking stumps or rock. So I helped Lucky Craft design a bait that combines the durability of plastic with the intense deflection of wood."
The result is Lucky Craft's RC Series. These buoyant, fat-bodied shallow runners feature a unique square bill that gives the RC a more radical deflection for a plastic bait.
"Many of the bills on traditional square-lipped baits are thick and it hinders their ability to dive and reach a critical vibration," Clunn says. "I worked with Lucky Craft in designing a bill for the RC that is much thinner so it cuts the water better for consistent tracking and enhanced deflection."
How to Fish the RC Series
When Rick Clunn fishes his Lucky Craft RC Series crankbaits, he does it with attitude. The four-time Bassmaster Classic Champion designed these fat-bodied, square-billed lures to boldly crash through cover and provoke strikes - and that's exactly how he fishes them.
"The RC is a 'target' bait," Clunn explains. "By that I mean it's designed to make contact with specific objects or targets, usually shallow, visible pieces of cover like stumps, laydowns, pilings or rocks."
The RC Series will run to a depth of 4 feet, but Clunn uses his rod to manipulate the lure's depth as it approaches a target.
"I use the rod to control the angle and depth of the bait to make sure I contact the 'sweet spot' on the target," he reveals.
On one cast, Clunn may crank the RC with his rod tip down low in order to hit the base of a stump in 4 feet of water. On the next cast he might raise the rod tip up to get the bait to crawl over top of the stump.
Since he is often cranking the RC around hard cover, Clunn uses line in the 14- to 20- pound test class.
His rod length preference is 7 feet, but he warns that rod action is more important that rod length.
When it comes to hooking fish, Clunn likens this style of shallow cranking to flipping or pitching where the rod must have enough power to turn the bait in the fish's mouth so the hooks can penetrate.
"When choosing equipment to fish the RC, pay the close attention to your rod action," Clunn advises. "Shallow cranking calls for a very stout rod - a true heavy action rod, not a medium-heavy. These are big-bodied baits that are attacked by big fish in thick cover, and a softer rod simply does not provide enough power to hook the fish and move it out away from the cover."
Seasonal Patterns for the RC Series
Four-time Bassmaster Classic Champion Rick Clunn designed Lucky Craft's RC Series crankbaits to be fished any time bass are shallow.
"The seasonal applications of the RC crankbait vary depending on the kind of fishery you are dealing with," Clunn says. "For instance, you can use the RC almost anytime of the year on water bodies like river systems where fish live shallow most of the time. However, on deep clear impoundments, where fish go deep during the winters and summers, the bait has less of a seasonal range."
No matter what kind of fishery he is on, Clunn has found these plugs to be most effective during two periods: late spring and fall. Also, he lets the season have some bearing on the size RC he will throw.
"The RC 2.5 and RC 3.5 are good for imitating pesky bream," Clunn explains. "My favorite time to fish these bigger lures is the late spring, from the post-spawn through early summer. That's when the bigger female bass have spawned out, but they're still up shallow eating bream that are picking eggs off bass beds."
Clunn's second favorite time of year to fish these baits is in the late summer to fall time when bass are following shad into the backs of creeks.
"During the late spring and early summer the RC 2.5 and RC 3.5 are my preferred sizes," Clunn says. "In the fall, when shad are the main bass forage, I'll start with the RC 2.5, but if bass want a smaller profile, I'll drop down to the RC 1.5."