How-To Cole Sands’ winter crankbait tacklebox Posted on February 2, 2023 Photography by Craig Lamb Captions by Craig Lamb Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Cole Sands reached the top of the sport by fishing all levels of B.A.S.S. competition. The Tennessean began at the high school level and won a Bassmaster College National Championship while at Bryan College. Sands qualified for the Elite Series through the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens while guiding on Chickamauga Lake to further hone his skills. Even so, Sands’ crankbait choices, and in particular his preferred color patterns, will work most anywhere as winter transitions into the prespawn. “Flat-sided crankbaits are really good for cold, stained water that we see in late winter and early spring,” Sands said. “A wide wobble mimics the slow movement of a shad, and compact baits match the size of the forage.” Sands favors the Yo-Zuri 3DR Flat Crank, measuring 2 1/8 inches and weighs 3/8 ounce. The bait is categorized by Yo-Zuri as a floating diver and is available in eight color patterns. It features a patented 3D internal prism scale finish that is ideal for stained water. He also chooses the Yo-Zuri 3DR-X Crank DD (Deep Diver) for clear, rocky shoreline lakes for smallmouth and spotted bass. Here are his favorite color patterns. Red Crawfish“The semi-tight wobble and red color pattern really stand out for cold, muddy water,” Sands said. “The 3DR has more thump than you might think due to the wider back, and the bill reflects really good off of cover,” he said. “It’s my new favorite stained water crankbait in cold water.” Black Back Chartreuse “This color almost glows in muddy water,” Sands said. “It’s my go-to pattern when the bass are feeding on shad in muddy water.” Yo-Zuri 3DR-X Crank DD (Deep Diver) 50The lure measures 2 inches and weights 3/8 ounce with a diving range of 10 to 12 feet, and it’s available in eight color patterns. The compact size is ideal for high-pressure lakes and early season sluggish bass. Translucent Red Crawfish“This deep diver has a very small profile that matches up with the smaller meals the bass eat when they are more lethargic in colder water,” Sands said. “It also deflects off cover really well.” Sands prefers the 3DR-X DD on rocky lakes with deep, clear water favored by smallmouth and spotted bass.