My first introduction to lipless crankbaits, was when I
won twenty of them in a raffle on Lake Cayuga in upstate
The following week, I tried in vain to catch fish with
this noisy, skinny looking object. What I did catch was
wood, weeds and rocks. So the lures remained in the bottom
of the tackle bag collecting dust like so many baits that
I believed were for catching fishermen, not fish!
Two years later, I was fishing a tournament in Alabama
with another angler who was catching so many fish I had
to stop to see what he was throwing. When I saw the rattletrap
on his line, I watched how he would change the retrieve
constantly and move the rod tip from left to right and well
as up and down.
Have you ever heard the expression, "the light suddenly
came on"? Well I realized that the lures I had won
all that time ago could actually catch fish, but I still
needed a lesson in how to use them correctly.
I tied a "trap" on the line and tried to mimic
his retrieve tactics. Once again I hooked wood and weed.
Maybe it was just me, but I could not get the damn thing
to run the way he did! Then I realized that the reel I was
using had a retrieve speed of 5.1 to 1. I looked at his
reel to see that he was using a 6.3 to 1! Click! On went
the light (again) and I switched to a high retrieve reel.
After the second cast, I hooked and landed my first "trap"
bass, a nice three-pound fish. I caught 4 more fish that
afternoon and placed well in the tournament standings for
the day thanks to this bait.
So, here are the tools you will need and a few tips on
"working the lure".
I prefer a six to six and a half-foot medium action rod
with a high gear ratio (6 to 1 and above) baitcasting reel
for larger baits. A spinning reel will work better with
the smaller sizes but again, check the ratio.
Perhaps for those of you who are not familiar with gear
ratios I should explain. When you turn the handle
of a fishing reel one complete turn, you will have gathered
a certain amount of line back as the spool turns. The higher
the speed ratio, the more line you bring back on each turn.
For crankbaits, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits, a high
retrieve is excellent. Of course there are situations when
you may need to slow down a spinnerbait or regular crankbait,
in which case you should choose another reel with a lower
gear ratio. However, for the lipless variety of crankbaits,
a high-speed reel is the key.
Line diameter and breaking strain should be your next consideration,
Heavy line with a larger diameter will keep the bait higher
in the water than a thinner and less pound test line. Situations
dictate what line you can use, but as a rule of thumb, if
the water is deep, you want the bait to run deep. Use ten
to fifteen pound line with little or no stretch. This type
of line will allow you to "feel the bait" as it
runs through the water. Do not use a braided line unless
you feel comfortable using it. To me, the monofilament or
co-polymer lines are excellent for this particular style
of fishing. In skinny shallow water presentations, choose
a fifteen to twenty pound test line which will allow you
to muscle fish out of shoreline structure without too much
Lure size selection! Well they come in many sizes, so try
to match the size of the baitfish in the area. If you do
not see any bait fish to "size up with", start
with a small quarter of an ounce offering and change up
until the fish bite. As for color selection, try chrome
and blue, chrome and black and the white with a green or
red back. All these work for me in most situations. Of course,
your lake or river may need another color, so do not be
afraid to experiment.
Finally, as you retrieve your lure, speed up and slow down.
Also move the rod slowly as you retrieve from left to right.
Then on the next cast, up and down. Try to remember when
you fish any artificial bait that it is supposed to imitate
a fish, and fish do not swim in straight lines! So why would
you just throw a lure and turn the handle of your reel until
it comes back?
Charles - Contact me with your questions or comments at