When fishing area lakes on any given day, ideally, I want to cover all my bases. That does not always happen, but if I have a few soft plastics rigged up ready to go, you can bet a craw imitator will be one of them. Since crawfish are part of the local forage, it would be silly not to have crawfish imitators in my arsenal. While there are many soft plastic craws on the market, I tend to rely on lures I have confidence using. Popularity has nothing on confidence. Even though a few new lures currently have my attention, namely beaver baits like the Sweet Beaver and craws like the NetBait Paca Craw and Berkley Chigger Craw, I don't plan on leaving my LFT Craws at home any time soon.
I was first introduced to the LFT Craw in 2006, admittedly probably a little late compared to other Lake Fork Tackle fans. A fellow angler was dragging one along the bottom in about five feet of water where hydrilla had taken hold. His technique yielded some solid fish and at the time, I was easily swayed by the powers of suggestion. I picked up a pack shortly thereafter and began fishing it the same way, experiencing similar results, albeit much smaller in size.
The 4" Lake Fork Craw is nothing revolutionary and from what I can tell, the design can be copied if you buy the right generic mold. The company claims it mimics a live crawfish and while the profile is definitely natural in appearance and the design caters to working the lure to mimic a real crawfish, I do not completely agree with the claim. The problem I have with the lure is how zombie-like the action is. The claws do not spring to life and the body is somewhat on the stiff side compared to its competitors. LFT also describes some kind of "breathing action" which supposedly comes from the ringed tail. Bubbles are supposed to be released from this part of the body. I have yet to witness any sort of "breathing action."
Looking a little closer at the lure, the underside is hollow towards the front. Not only does this allow less resistance for slightly better hook penetration, but it serves as a cushy spot to shove scented cotton balls and floating foam. While the front end may be hollow, it does not float as much as one might think, leaving the lure unable to create that classic defensive crawfish posture. It actually depends on how you've got the hook threaded, but for the most part, the lure sits on a flat axis.
The other notable point of interest to discuss is the LFT scent. It's garlic, but not that wussy stuff many other lure companies slather on. The garlic scent on LFT lures will stay with you and might overwhelm the senses to the point of nausea. Touching the package is enough to contaminate your hands with the scent. When you grab a craw out of the package, you'll feel just how slimy it is. Just look at the sheet of paper I used as a background for taking photos of a fresh craw. I like to keep rubbing alcohol and some paper towels at the ready when handling these things. Even then, the smell doesn't completely disappear. Potent stuff.
I usually rig the craw the same way I would many other plastics meant to fish the bottom. I thread on a 3/16 to 1/4oz bullet weight, sometimes pegged, sometimes not. I've also experimented with split shotting, Gamakatsu Jobee Pro Hooks, weightless, and Carolina rigged. I always come back to the bullet weight and an offset EWG hook. The body just does not perform as intended when weightless. Other nonstandard rigs exist, including threading on a bullet weight backwards so as to stir up silt as you drag the lure. At one point in time, the LFT web site also suggested nicking the tail end to give the lure a bend for a more life-like crawfish action. I have never fished it with an exposed hook. Too many weeds and stick-ups. Rigging it on a shaky head wasn't enough to impress any local bass. If you prefer a slower fall, I highly recommend a split shot rig, placing the weight a few inches up the line. A split shot seems to give me a happy medium between a slow drag and a more erratic bounce. Lastly, do not forget to pause. Strikes will come when you let this lure sit still, especially for long periods of time. The strike can still vary and although it can depend on how you've got the craw rigged, sometimes the hit is unpredictable. This can be true for any bait, I suppose, but the most memorable odd bite on a LFT Craw came when I cast to a shallow cypress tree limb overhang. I planned on letting the lure fall to the bottom so as to fish it slowly. One bass had other plans and hit immediately. No warning. This was a rare occurrence and for the most part, bites are generally more traditional and less often come in the form of a reaction strike. This bait might be for those of you who like to fish slow and methodically. If you are the kind of angler who likes to drag plastics through thick weeds like I do in scattered hydrilla on Caddo Lake and Cross Lake, then a craw should be on your short list.
I never pay attention to the normal crawfish life cycles. Maybe I should. LFT certainly has the color options to match the hatch. No. I throw a bait like this when the landscape under the water allows me the room to fish it. Again, the most productive situation for me has been in scattered hydrilla standing up only a few feet off the bottom. In these instances, I make long casts and take my time, staying aware of bottom contour, all the while making sure to move with a natural cadence, not in an erratic fashion, a movement commonly referred to as the "Superman" craw. When fishing shallow cover, I tend to pitch to specific spots and avoid the methodic dragging technique. No matter what depth I'm fishing, I know a craw is always an option.
While anglers often use the whole craw as a jig trailer, I tend to rescue damaged LFT Craws from the scrap heap, snipping off some of the tail, and then use the truncated version as a jig trailer as illustrated in another post I've written.
An easy and slightly cheaper alternative is the Big Bite Baits Craw. It has the exact same body and profile, suggesting that it came from the identical mold. The plastic has a slightly different consistency and instead of a pungent garlic scent that will knock you down, the BBB Craw has an anise-like smell to it.
The LFT Craw is available in 12 colors. My three confidence colors are black neon, red shad/green flake, and blue bruiser. On the LFT site, you can browse the other nine colors and decide if they cater to your own confidence. Other colors include crawfish, red bug, sour grape, june bug, watermelon seed/chartreuse pepper, green pumpkin, watermelon candy, watermelon seed, and watermelon seed/red flake. For some reason, I thought they came in white, but maybe I'm thinking of something in the Big Bite Baits lineup. The LFT Craw comes in packs of eight and costs less than $5. The packages have changed since my last major purchase. Instead of a black package with their red and green logo, LFTLures packs now sport a white theme. Made it difficult to spot in the store for a while as I had become conditioned to recognize the black packaging. Some local tackle shops still carry the older packs, if you can believe that.
In the end, other great options are out there, but if you are in the market for something new, consider a bait that has been around for a while instead of one of the new kids on the block.
Stay tuned. A post about the Lake Fork Tackle Top Dog Lizard is in the works.