Thursday, January 29, 2015

Product Review for Strike King 6XD Crankbaits

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Watch the 6XD in Action! 

Chances are, this product review is an exercise in futility. Pretty much any bass fisherman who does any sort of cranking has undoubtedly used a Strike King crankbait. However, the more involved I get into the sport, the more I find that the average fisherman isn't comfortable with fishing water deeper than 10 feet and virtually no one is comfortable in fishing open water. 

A lot of the issue with fishermen (or fisherwomen, such as my wife) in fishing these areas stems from a lack of confidence in throwing a bait into an area that they cannot visualize. When they do take the chance, if they aren't successful, they usually give up quickly. After all, finding success is a multi-faceted process of first locating where the fish are holding. Typically, the fish are holding on a specific type of underwater structure. Through the use of properly dialed in electronics, a fishermen can pinpoint an exact area, but boat position and casting angles once the fish are located becomes key. Then it comes down to selecting the correct bait. 

It isn't as easy as picking up a shakey head, a jig, or a C-rig and tossing it right on the fishes head...unless you are already comfortable knowing exactly where the fish are and you have the confidence of using minutes per cast. While these techniques are abosultely deadly on these bottom-dwelling fish, most fishermen unsure of themselves in this water column will avoid these technique entirely. 

Crankbaits, while already a bait that is a fish favorite, is one of the best ways to catch these fish and build confidence in offshore fishing. The crankbait covers a lot of horizontal water in a quick fashion, allowing a fisherman to fan-cast around and quickly cover the water until they pinpoint the eact location. Most companies carry crankbaits in a wide variety of colors, which you can fine tune to what the fish want. But, your selection of what brand of crankbait is just as important. Why? Because not all crankbaits have the right quality in the unspoken rules of cranking. 

A crankbait needs to be able to:
  • Represent some sort of forage via coloring that would interest the fish
  • Cast far and accurately
  • Get to depth quickly
  • Get to the desired depth
  • Swim true
  • Exhibit effective swim motion despite speed
  • Withstand rigors of grinding on rock
  • Overall effort to retrieve on the fisherman should be reasonable
I am no pro, that's for sure. But deep cranking is one of my loves. I have several different brands that I employ on different occasions, all of which I have selected by reviewing many other brands. If you are interested, you can read some of these review. Of note are:

The two represented above bookend the price ranges. In between these are perhaps my favorite line of crankbaits, which balances quality, productivity, and price. That being the Strike King 6XD. 

  • The 6XD, like all of the Strike King cranks, come in a multitude of colors. I only use a handful of these. I typically use powder blue back, sexy shad, chartreuse sexy shad, citrus shad, greenback chartreuse and sexy ghost shad. I select my color typically by water stain and the relative overcastness of the sky.  
  • The 6XD casts well, but because it is a round body, it offers significant wind resistance, keeping it from casting as well as some other cranks, specifically flat-sided cranks. It is significantly lighter than many other brands, which helps off set its cast-ability.
  • The 6XD doesn't get to depth as quickly as I would like. It is faster than many brands, but getting it into the strike zone requires several handfuls of yards, which reduces the effectiveness of each cast. That is, you have to overshoot your target area by a significant margin. However, it does an adequate job of getting to depth, allowing you to come off of ledges and dive to the next depth quickly. 
  • The 6XD claims an 18-20 foot depth. I have never been able to consistently hit those depths on anything less than 10 pound test flourocarbon. 14-15 feet are usually obtainable, however. To get to these depth would require a much further cast than I typically can achieve with a 7'6" cranking stick with 10 pound test, though I do admit that I am conservative on my casting.  I would hesitate to go under 10 pound test because hangups are extremely common and the smaller diameter line doesn't have the abrasion resistance or tensile strength to work a bait out of a hang up. 
  • Typically, these baits run well out of the package. Most all of them could use some tuning, but will run well enough to fish. On occasion, I have found some of them to be untunable. If you have one that runs wildly and doesn't exhibit any ability to correct via tweaking the D-ring, I would toss it. 
  • Fish obviously like the wobble and swimming motion. It's a quick motion that is fairly tight. That tight wobble allows it to work pretty efficiently through cover without slinging hooks into everything in its path.
  • Speaking of working through cover, I do admit that the bill is susceptible to being chipped. The bill is not as hearty as the Spro Little John, but that helps keep its weight down. The cost is that a full days worth of banging rocks will pit up the bill, or at least discoloration through stress bending. I have never shattered a body by hitting anything. The only issue I have is the glue on the eyes fails and the eyes fall off. 
  • This bait is one of the easiest deep diving baits to retrieve. I can throw this most of the day without much fatigue. 

Like most everything in life, you can spend as little or as much on crankbaits as you would like. I have zero issue spending $18-20 on a Lucky Craft or a Spro Little John. I have before, and I will again. However, the Strike King 6XD is incredibly affordable at a $7 price point. Additionally, unlike many of the aforementioned companies, you can go into any bait shop and find Strike King 6XDs, and in most colors you want. 

Perhaps my favorite thing about the Strike King cranks is that I can buy these in silent models. Most days on the water, I open up with silent cranks and I employ them on tougher days as well. Rattles are great at letting fish know your bait is in the water and easy for them to find. When you are targeting an area you are very familiar with and know the fish are there, using silent cranks allow you to target reaction bites. Conversely, rattling baits let the fish know your bait is coming. If the fish are spooked or uneasy, they know to get out of the way. A silent bait sneaks right up on them. 

Technically speaking, the bait covers my needs in a crank very well. It is fairly hearty, comes in good colors, dives and swims as I need it and doesn't work me to death. 

I give it a 4 out of 5 Stars.