Where I fish in the deeper parts of Lake Erie assisted crankbait fishing is a key summertime program that you just have to accept. Weights, leadcore, copper, and stainless wire on long leads are tactics that you need to utilize to be productive when fishing the big open water miles to the north.
We commonly fish the more well known baits, but a few years back I stumbled onto something that was an initial $12 experiment, that has panned out quite well for our charter operation. That was the Yo-Zuri Deep Crystal Minnow.
The Yo-Zuri Deep Divers come in 3 sizes from 3.5″ to 5.25″. The original baits are designed for salt water fishing. They have since released a Walleye line of baits that come in some brighter colors more common with freshwater fishing. These baits are extremely tough when considering the usage of a saltwater bait for freshwater fish. The split rings are stronger than the junk found on most everything we buy and the hooks are very sharp and very strong.
The best part about these baits is the action and how true they run in the water. I have personally trolled them for walleyes up to 3mph and they run straight as can be. The tight wobble is almost irresistible to the predatory walleyes of Lake Erie, and the steelhead will eat em too if you’re pulling them fast enough. The tuning aspect of these baits is minimal. The hook hangers are made of a much thicker wire than your standard baits so if they do go out of tune a quick adjustment and you are back in business for the rest of the day.
For freshwater applications I have found the 3-1/2″ and the 4-3/8″ baits to be the most productive day in and day out.