In our ongoing quest to find new and improved ways
to catch more bass, sometimes the answer is right before
our very eyes. So often the most effective means of
boating more fish is so simple, we simply overlook it.
Chances are it is right in front of you, but you donít
see it. Itís like not being able to see the forest,
for the trees, so to speak. What is it? The oleí reliable
Rat-L-Trap. Thatís right, the simply looking, easy to
use, noisy, baitfish imitating lure we all have in our
tackle boxes that weíve been using for years, a Rat-L-Trap.
Rat-L-Traps are the number one selling bait in America.
There is a good reason for thatÖ they catch fish. Anglers
everywhere have used a Rat-L-Trap at one time or another
in their fishing. Chances are they caught fish on emí.
The Rat-L-Trap is a "go to" for everyone from the beginning
anglers to long time touring professional anglers.
The Rat-L-Trap is a bait that can be used in a variety
of ways. The most common way to use the bait is what
I call the basic "chunk and reel" method. Chunk it out
there and reel it back in relatively fast hoping to
trigger a strike from a feeding fish or generate a reactionary
strike from a passive fish. If that doesnít work, you
can try slowing it down a bit allowing the bait to work
a little deeper. Often this subtle little difference
will result in more strikes.
One of my favorite ways to use the bait is probably
the most underused presentation of all, a yo yo retrieve.
I use this approach when fishing the bait off of main
lake and secondary points and around the edges of creek
channels when the fish are not real active.
Cast the bait out and let it fall to the bottom. Once
on the bottom, quickly pull it up a foot or two and
stop allowing the bait the flutter back down imitating
a wounded or dying baitfish. The presentation of an
easy meal may very well cause a non-feeding fish to
go ahead a eat your bait simply because its there and
its easy. The result, you catch a fish.
Rat-L-Traps come in a variety of sizes, colors and
styles. Some sparkle, some have spinners on them, some
have a plastic bill on them for diving deeper, some
float and others will suspend. There is so many, itís
sometimes hard to figure out which one to use. If you
find yourself in this situation, like I so often do,
go back to the basics. The Ĺ ounce chrome with a blue
back, chrome with a black back or a gold with a black
back are my standard baits. On cloudy days, early morning
or late evening, I use the gold color. When the sun
is bright, you canít go wrong with the chrome.
Last month I fished a BASS tournament at Sam Rayburn.
The tournament was won on a Rat-L-Trap being fished
over scattered grass (hydrilla). Several other anglers,
including myself, caught fish on Rat-L-Traps in the
When fishing these baits around grass, you need to
be using a high speed reel with a gear ratio of 6:1
or better on a medium action rod. This will allow you
to literally rip the bait through the grass triggering
strikes. If the fish are aggressive, they will usually
hit the bait just as you pull it loose from a snag in
the grass. If the fish are not real aggressive, you
may need to scale down to a ľ ounce Rat-L-Trap in order
to slow the bait down enough to get bit; yet keep it
from staying hung up in the grass due to the slower
retrieve needed to generate strikes. This is where having
a variety of colors and sizes of baits come in handy.
I really love fishing Rat-L-Traps over grass. The bait
looks like the forage the bass are feeding on, a shad
and the noise from the rattles inside seems to attract
the fish even when they are buried up in the thick grass.
When a grass bass hits the bait, it usually inhales
Another bait to use over grass is the Red Zone Rat-L-Trap,
it suspends. After cranking it down during the retrieve,
you can stop the bait and it will suspend allowing the
fish more time to see and strike the bait. You can also
use it like a jerk bait while it is suspending, then
continue the normal retrieve. This lure is also real
effective on pre-spawn fish in creeks that are suspending
between the creek channel and their spawning areas in
As a tournament angler, keeping a fish on after hooking
it can mean the difference between making a paycheck
and not making one. Thatís why I always replace the
hooks on my Rat-L-Traps when fishing a tournament. The
hooks that come on the bait are ok for pleasure fishing
or pre-fishing a tournament, but when it really counts,
I want a good sharp hook that increases my chances of
landing the fish.
The next time youíre at the lake or your favorite body
of water and you canít figure out what lure to use to
catch oleí bucketmouth, remember the answer may have
been sitting there all along. Thereís a good reason
everyone you talk to has a few in their box, the Rat-L-Trap
simply catches fish.
Tom Lester II