The imitation soft plastic crawfish or hard plastic crawfish crankbait can be one of the most powerful baits you can throw, depending on the time of the year and how it's presented. Many anglers today use these imitations and do not really understand why they are using them and quite possibly how to use them properly. Imitations come in all shapes, sizes, materials and colors. We will take a look at the selection process and determine when the best time to throw imitations would be as well as explain why and how you should use them. Once you understand the mating and molting rituals of crawfish, you will definitely have the upper hand when using these imitation baits.
There are plastic imitations starting in the ½" range all the way up to 6". Some have multiple legs and pinchers, while many are very authentic and they can differ greatly between models and brands. As a matter of fact, there are companies that have taken actual crawfish (champagne bellini )and made molds of the creature and reproduced an exact replica in soft plastic. Some of the most popular brands of plastic crawfish are: Gambler Worms, Magic Worms, Zoom, Nichols, Mad Man, Strike King, Tiki Sticks, Storm, Culprit, Lake Fork, Berkley and Gary Yamamoto just to name a few. My personal choice is the Gambler Crawdaddy in the 4" model. I have tried many different types and brands and the Crawdaddy consistently produces the most strikes for me, When it comes to hard crankbaits (molded hard plastic or wood) there are many companies out there making crawfish patterns as well. A few that come to mind would be Rapala, Storm, Bomber, Yo-Zuri, Mann's, Rebel, Smithwick, Rat-L-Trap, Cotton Cordell, Berkley and Daiwa.
I think to truly understand when the best time to use a crawfish type bait, you must first understand why bass eat them and when they find this type of forage the most appetizing. Crawfish are located just about everywhere: from flooded areas to agricultural fields to muddy ditches and of course ponds, lakes and reservoirs. There is not a state in the contiguous 48 that doesn't have millions of crawfish swimming around and providing a nice feast for the local bass populations. The more knowledge you possess about crawfish, the higher catch rate you'll enjoy after practice and proper usage. I think it's time we go back to science class and educate everyone about this awesome little beasty. Like any creature on our planet, crawfish are bound and determined to eat, mate and protect themselves from predators. You must understand how this process works to maximize your catch, while using imitation lures.