There are very few absolute facts when it comes to bass fishing in the spring when it comes to bait and lures. However one absolute fact is that fish WILL bite a lipless crankbait. You will be hard pressed to find a boat at a local or pro event without a lipless crankbait of some sort tied on a rod or two.
The brand name most of us grew up knowing as a “Rat-L-Trap” was the first major player in the lipless crankbait game.
It is certainly not the first to hit the market, but the first to make it mainstream.
Now just about every lure manufacturer that produces hard plastic baits has their own version of a lipless crankbait. Are all of these baits created equal? Not hardly. I will dive into my favorite lipless baits, presentation and the gear I throw them on.
ROD- I will always use a medium action rod with a softer tip. This not only allows me to feel the bait vibrating under the water, but also helps me play the fish with less chance of it throwing the hooks. I would suggest to stay away from heavier action rods with a stiff tip. The IROD Genesis II- Stone Cold Spook & Trap rod was built for baits like this and has a soft enough tip to maintain feel as well as control the fish.
REEL- I like to use a 6.3:1 gear ratio reel. I feel like if you have a higher speed reel, you may fish the bait too fast for most applications, or if you have a lower gear ratio you will have to reel much faster than you would want to. In my opinion the 6.3:1 is just right.
LINE- 14-17 lb. Floro gets the nod for me. There are times when you may need to throw braid in heavy pad stems, hydrilla or coontail. But day in and out this range of line diameter will give you the best results and not tear the treble hooks from a fish’s mouth like braid can.
BAITS- The list here can go on and on. There are about 4 that I have used with a great deal of success. The 6thSense Quake and 6thsense Snatch are my favorites. These baits come in a regular rattle with loud BB’s, a FRS (Faint Rattling Sound) and a THUD which is a one knocker. Other baits I have had success with are the Strike King- Red Eye Shad and YoZuri Rattlin Vibe.
All of these baits are from reputable manufacturers and will run true right out of the box.
SIZE- I throw a ½ or 5/8 ounce bait 90% of the time. The other 10% I throw a ¾ or 7/8 ounce bait. I never really throw the ¼ ounce models here in Texas. I feel as though very small fish will still bite the above listed sizes, the weight for me is more for the depth I want to fish.
COLORS- This time of year will typically mean RED. Most of us will have a red-ish colored lipless tied on at all time. I like the red colored baits for Pre-Spawn and Spawn. Especially if the water is stained to muddy or there is quite a bit of grass. If it is sunny or clear water, I will usually opt for a more natural shad pattern or chrome of some sort.
RETREIVE- Day in & Day out a steady medium retrieve will fit the bill. If I contact a stump or grass, I will certainly give the bait a shake or twitch. I rarely burn this bait during the spring, but will in the summer for schoolers. I think too many times people will over work a lipless bait. There are days when an erratic retrieve may work best, but odds are a moderate steady retrieve will produce.
Another fish catching retrieve is the pump & go. A steady pump up with the rod and let it fall. Note that most bites will occur on the initial fall.
LOCATION- This bait excels in water less than 6 foot deep in the spring time. It can be cast in some nasty areas knowing you will be able to get your bait if it gets hung up. The prime areas to fish this bait are spawning flats or areas adjacent to spawning flats. These areas will warm faster and usually hold more spring time bass.
There are many, many more things we can cover when it comes to lipless crankbaits. But these are the basic fundamentals regarding set up and presentation.
One last quick tip, you will lose some fish on this bait. Its’ size and build work against it when the bass leaps from the water. Don’t think you are doing anything wrong. Try your best to keep them down and net them as soon as possible.