Spro Little John MD Cranks Through Laydowns

Reviewed by Jonathan Manteuffel

Last year Spro gave Virginia Bassmaster Elite Series pro and crankbait fanatic John Crews the chance to design his own best-ever shallow crankbait. What resulted was the Little John, a small bait with big power to trigger scary strikes from shallow bass.

The lure has a micarta (circuit board material) bill that is nearly indestructible and causes the lure to spring off objects like rocks and docks, creating erratic actions that move bass to attack. Yet the lure runs true in open water, even at fast retrieves.

This fall, Spro has expanded the line with the Little John MD, a medium-diving crank that runs 7-9 feet deep. The body is the same as the original Little John, but the dive bill is plastic, longer, and at a different, downward angle. Crews wanted the line tie in the bill for the MD, so the material had to be able to handle that.

Cover Water

Crews burns up the shoreline with the original Little John cranks, using a fast retrieve to smack as many objects as he can to stimulate a reaction bite in 3-5 feet of water. I found that these lures also come through laydowns and brush fairly well, but still would hang up more than occasionally.

The new Little John MD solved that problem. The longer lip protects the hooks more and flips the bait up and over limbs without hanging up, even at moderately fast retrieves. Most other crankbaits I’ve run through branches have to be eased over the limbs or they become underwater Christmas tree ornaments. But in 4 hours of cranking the lower end of Wheeler Lake, I had to troll in and unsnag the MD just four times, and one of those was fishing line that had snarled in the laydown I was fishing.

I got to wondering if the hooks were on the small side, since that would certainly reduce snagging, but that wasn’t the case. Spro couldn’t have put any bigger hooks on these baits without constant tangles, and they’re sticky-sharp Gamakatsu trebles.

Digging Deeper

In between laydowns, the Little John MD could be cranked as fast as I wanted without rolling over or tracking off to the side. It bounced off cover and rocks with authority, but then resumed a straight track. And its 1/2-ounce weight was just heavy enough that I was able to cast most of the 10-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line off my reel to reach schooling fish in the middle of the coves.

The MD dives about 9 feet on 10-pound mono, according to Crews. That was about right to get just below the schooling shad where the bass were lurking, pushing them to the surface.

The Little John MD has a pronounced vibration, but not a rod-shaking throb, so it’s well suited to water that’s nearly clear all the way to a heavy stain. The rattles inside are made of soft tungsten material, meaning they are attention-getting but unobtrusive.

Overall I was very impressed with the utility of this medium runner and expect to throw it a lot more this fall.


The Little John and Little John MD are high-quality lures that compare favorably to imported crankbaits, but they cost several dollars less, listing at $11.95.

Spro’s website shows nine colors available on the MD and 12 on the original Little John. They also have some video footage of Crews talking about and demonstrating the lures.

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