The Norman’s Deep Little ‘N’: Top-20 Contender?

O.T. Fears featured in a Norman's Deep Little 'N' ad from the late 80s.

O.T. Fears featured in a Norman’s Deep Little ‘N’ ad from the late 80s.

I got to thinking about deep crankbaits this past month, not sure exactly why, but it’s usually because of stumbling onto an article or picture that always starts these tangents for me. The subject quickly became what role Norman’s Deep Little ‘N’ crankbait has played in the bass fishing world over the years.

I reread through W2F’s series of articles about the 20 most-influential baits of all time and was surprised to see very little in the way of deep cranks. Really, the only true deep crankbait listed was the Norman DD-22, in at #18. Not saying that’s a bad choice if you could select only one, but why not the Poes 300/400,  or the Mann’s 20+, or yes, the Deep Little ‘N’ instead?

It seems like Paul Elias got the attention focused on this bait with his 1982 Bassmaster Classic victory in which he famously “kneeled and reeled” his Norman Deep Little ‘N’ crankbait into the history books. The bait and technique would also be featured in a VHS tape Paul made of the technique.

Paul Elias video screenshots from his deep cranking tape.

Paul Elias video screenshots from his deep cranking tape.

About 5 years after that, OT Fears would win the 1987 All-American. In the post event interviews he stated, “I caught them all on a khaki black back Norman Deep Little N, which was kind of a secret at that time. It imitated the shad on the Arkansas River system perfectly, especially in the late fall.” Not certain if he meant the bait or the color, but it was another high profile win for the lure.

From Kevin Short's website, his PB largemouth caught on a Deep Little 'N'.

From Kevin Short’s website, his PB largemouth caught on a Deep Little ‘N’.

Of course, if you mention the Arkansas River, then you can’t help but mention K-Short. Hard to tell how many bass and how much money Kevin has won on Arkansas waters over the years using the Deep Little ‘N’. Additionally, he also credits the lure for the biggest bass he’s ever caught – a fish that weighed 10.22 pounds and came from Lake Ouachita in February 2000.

Thing is, the Deep Little ‘N’ still catches them just as good today as it did back then. In the recent Sam Rayburn EverStart Event held Oct. 3-5, 2013, second place finisher Kris Wilson of Montgomery, Texas, weighed a three-day total of 50 pounds, 4 ounces worth $9,330. According to reports, “Wilson’s primary pattern all week centered on classic Texas ‘drains,’ or the small ditches that run out of a flat. He mostly cranked the drains with a Norman Deep Little N on 12-pound line.”

Hard to say just how many events this bait has played a key role in over the past 30 years – needless to say it’s been a bunch. So cast my vote for the Deep Little ‘N’ as one of the most influential baits in bass fishing history – still around, still catching fish, and still affordable as heck.

  • Harold Sharp

    Several Years ago I was fishing a Norman Little N near Chickamauga Dam and noticed a very large school of small shad minnows, the water was black with them. I cast the Little N into the school and gave it a very hard jerk when I got it in it had 9 shad minnows hooked on the hooks. They were less that an inch long but I had causht 9 fish on a single cast of a Norman Little N.

  • Ralph Manns

    Deep Little-N — one of my small tackle box always” lures.. I landed my biggest TX bass on artificials on an almost clear N with a flat mirror insert. I can’t get that color anymore, sigh!.. Yet I continue to rely on black bellied w/ faint chartreuse back N for low light and near dark conditions. If I still fished nights, it would be my crank choice then too.