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Lure Review

Wintertime Bass Fishing with the Live Target Crappie Lipless Cranks


With straight retrieves the Live Target Crappie was pretty uninspiring and I barely got any strikes this way. Experienced lipless crank fishermen know that in order to maximize the effectiveness of the bait you need to mix up your retrieve, and this bait is no different.

The metallic versions reflect much more light and are good for sunny days when more flash is preferred

I prefer fishing this bait with a higher speed gear ratio reel of 6.3:1 or above, and in most cases a burner reel is preferred. This may seem counter intuitive when targeting seemingly lethargic winter bass but the higher speed retrieve is what enables you to fish this, and many other lipless cranks, so effectively.

Performance Ratings for Live Target Crappie 70SK Crankbait

Castability (1-5)
Ease of Actuation(1-5)
Quality of Movement (1-5)
Position at Rest (1-5)
Durability (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Don't be afraid to make your rod work when fishing this bait. I got the majority of strikes with the Crappie by tossing it and working varying depths by allowing the bait to sink then reeling it back and allowing it to fall again and again. This yo-yo style technique can be done subtly or aggressively by lifting your rod tip, causing the Crappie to surge forward. This bait can also be burned effectively over submerged timber and grass, and if you are willing to put the lure into some light vegetation then chances are you might be rewarded with a strike.

A look at the bait head on shows the 3D eyes

If all of these retrieves fail then you can always slow things way down and crawl the bait, just remember to keep it moving so it doesn't hang up, and if it does just jerk it out of the snag and when doing this you also sometimes can trigger a reaction bite. I'm not embarrassed to say that it was doing exactly this on the California Delta when I hooked into the largest fish I caught while testing this bait, a healthy five pounder.

Even the top is sculpted carefully and the sides feature 3D scale patterns

Features: The Live Target Crappie's best features are the design of the bait itself. Unlike other lipless crankbaits that are predominately diamond shaped the Live Target bait clearly goes a step further to more accurately mimic an actual juvenile crappie. Every angle you look at this bait you will find impressive details, from the angled shape of the body, to the protruding gill and fin design, to the light speckles painted on the belly.

Want to talk detail? Check out the extra spots on the belly, a detail Live Target could have easily skipped but chose not to

Design/Ergonomics: Overall consistency on our test baits was above average for the category as well and when it comes to realism the finish out of the box is hard to beat. Like other lipless cranks casting these baits is a no-brainer, just bend and send, and this lure will help you cover a lot of water quickly. The only thing we did note was that the finishes of the metallic version in particular can get beat up after extended use. Yet even when scarred these baits remained pretty effective and there was no change in the retrieve consistency.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Live Target Crappie 70SK Crankbait

Bait to Bait Consistency (1-5)
Weight (1-5)
Realism (1-5)
Available Sizes (1-3)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Application: The finishes are impressive and I really like the matter patterns for the cloudy and cooler days that normally go along with a day on the lake in Winter. When the sun comes out I prefer to tie on the metallic versions which deliver more fish attracting flash.

The gill plate is also 3D and finishes with multiple layers of paint to add further depth and realism

The one area where I found the bait less effective than some of our proven performers was in very deep or murky water conditions. Here the added realism of the bait doesn't translate as well and some competing baits are definitely have louder more aggressive rattle profiles to help largemouth lock on to the bait from greater distances.  

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Live Target Crappie 70SK Crankbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Good overall construction and hooks that you actually will want to fish with 9.5
Performance Performs well when mixing up the retrieve. A good cold and clear water option for bass when crappie are on their regular menu. 8.4
Price More expensive than your run of the mill lipless crank but when compared with other premium offerings from Japan the price is fair 6.5
Features Ability to match the hatch with a ultra realistic looking bait is this bait's best feature 7
Design (Ergonomics) Easy to fish, casts great and consistency between our test baits was excellent 8.88
Application Can be fished year round but a good option for when the bite gets tough in the winter and you need a bait that can get down deeper and still deliver a reaction strike 7.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ The finish on these baits is excellent - More expensive than you run of the mill lipless crankbait
+ Decent stock hooks - Finish can take noticeable damage from contact with structure
+ Two sizes help match the hatch  
+ A bait designed specifically to mimic not just baitfish, but juvenile crappie  
+ Good for fishing in winter  


Conclusion: Crappie can be found in so many bodies of water where both largemouth and smallmouth inhabit and when it comes to imitating a juvenile crappie the Live Target option is by far the most realistic looking. Once you look deeper than that quality finish this bait also proves to exhibit a decent fish attracting wiggling motion as well.


Looking for bait to cure those winter blues? If the bass in your local water feeds on young crappie than this lure has your name written all over it


It may not possess the same exact characteristic wiggle that a Lucky Craft LV500 or Rat-L-Trap exhibits, but it does catch fish and offers anglers something different to present to fish, especially in cold and clear water where matching the hatch is critical. The key to fishing this bait effectively is not being afraid to vary your retrieve speeds and styles. Bring the bait to life with a combination of your rod tip and a fast ratio reel and the Live Target Crappie can add some warmth your livewell this winter.


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