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Lure Review

The Crazy Action of Wood : H&T's Balsa Crank (continued)


There is no running depth information available on these baits in the H&T website, but in their catalog, Bass Pro Shops lists all three of these baits as having a running depth between 8-10 feet. This is simply not accurate. The Sunline Machinegun Cast we were using on our Conquest 51 has a diameter that feels a bit thinner than traditional lines. I estimate our 12lb test has a diameter closer to other lines' 10lb test. Even with this line, we were only able to dig down to about three feet. The H&T Balsa Crank is a true, shallow running crank.

A closeup of our HT-1 in Rootbeer

Weedlessness: The square bill on the H&T Balsa Crank offers good deflection abilities over hard and rocky surfaces. When the bait does get caught up, it's very high bouyancy makes it easy to get off by holding your line taught and snapping it, or by getting to the other side of the lure and simply pulling it out from its obstruction. The rather large hooks, while helpful with hooking fish, do tend to get in the way and catch in weedy environments and around wood.


You can see here, the HT-1 is much more compact than the HT-2


Though a departure from the 2 standard colors offered by H&T, this BPS exclusive color is still more simple than elaborate

Durability: Having fished these lures on and off over the course of the last two years and not seeing any visible signs of damage, I took our tests to the extreme. I tied a bait on, headed outside the offices of TackleTour onto the sidewalk and made two casts up into the air. Each time, I let the bait come down on it's own weight and crash into the sidewalk. To my shock and amazement, damage was minimal at best. The clear coat had no significant cracks and the paint underneath the clear coat showed very minor signs of trauma - impressive indeed.


The H&T Balsa Crank features a suprisingly durable finish.. can you see the damage in this photo (look at the lower left hand corner)


A macro shot of the only visible damage we could fund after firing this lure straight up into the air over a concrete sidewalk. Note the small crack and change in color toward the top left of this photograph

Application & Effectiveness: The very first cast I made with this lure was to a tule island in the Delta. It was made as we were approaching the island on trolling motor power and still quit a distance off. It was a rather tough morning and I aimed my cast right at the island's point with the intention of just getting a feel for the bait. About 5 turns into my retrieve, just as I was getting a good sense for the crank, a feisty 2 pounder decided to interrupt my test! I've caught countless bass since then on this crank though nothing over 3 pounds - at least that I can recall. It excels in shallow water conditions, but even has the ability to call fish up if retrieved over depths of eight to twelve feet. Must be that sonic nature of wooden cranks.

One of the many bass caught on this bait over the course of the last couple of years



H&T Crank Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Simple in design but extremely well crafted 10
Performance A super wide wobbling, shallow running crank 8
Price Hand carved and hand painted, these baits do come at a premium 6.5
Features Lexan lip, sharp hooks and an extremely durable finish 9
Design A very simple, no nonsense, low tech bait 8
Application Wonderful along weedlines or over any submerged structure and through hard bottom surfaces 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Crazy, frantic wobbling action L Pricey
J Quality hooks L Though able to call bass up from deeper water, still a little too shallow running
J Extremely durable finish  L Limited choice of colors
J Made of wood  

Conclusion: Wood cranks will always hold a special place with me - especially the hand carved, and painted products. While not as flashy and high-tech as the modern day plastic baits, they can be every bit as effective - if not more so, under certain conditions. While H&T takes the theory of KISS to the extreme offering only two stock colors, their expanded offering with Bass Pro Shops is a welcome alternative as is the ability to order custom colors direct from the factory. How many lure companies offer that type of service? Sure it comes at a premium, but at least the option is there. At a times, I did wish the bait would run deeper, and perhaps H&T will eventually offer another version of their crank for those of us who like to really run our cranks into the bottom and dig up a nice trail for the bass to follow. For now, we have the HT-1 through 3 and I must say, these are some quality baits.












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