Like all kinds o’ bass baits, includin’ jerkbaits, lipless cranks can catch ’em year-round, but in spring (and fall) they’re musts. Almost no wrong way to fish ’em — crank, burn, rip, drop — and they can be used to find fish and trigger fish. Great baits.
1. Rat-L-Traps (1/4-, 1/2- and 3/4-oz)
Blastin’ off this section with the classic must-have-’em ‘Traps in 3 sizes. Here’s a good color-c-lection to get you started this time of year:
Colors: Hard to go wrong with reds, golds and shads.
Notes: The Knock-N-Trap has a low-pitch, single-knocker sound. Sinks fast, ideal for searching in 4-10′ to quickly locate feeding bass.
Situations: Fishing over grass flats, nose-grinding rocky points, reeling fast and stopping it to fall on schooling fish, yo-yoing drains or ditches near spawning flats.
Best rod and line: 7′ MH to H and 12-20 lb fluoro for ripping grass, 7′ M and 8-12 lb fluoro for open water and chunk rock.
Colors: 150+ colors (!!) — new ones are 296 warmouth, 290 American shad, 295 pumpkin perch, 292 purple shad, 294 olive shad, 293 silver shad, 291 chartreuse silver shad.
Situations: Over grass flats in 3-10′, nose-grinding rocky points in 2-10′, yo-yoing drains/ditches near spawning flats.
Best rod and line: Same as for the 3/4-oz above.
Colors: 52 colors, back by popular demand is #52 chartreuse shiner, good for murky spring waters.
Situations: Work it through shallow grass in 1-4′, and fan-cast it on spawning flats when the water is too stained to see bedding fish.
Best rod and line: 6-7′ M, 12-16 lb fluoro for ripping grass, 8-12 lb mono or fluoro for open water or nose-grinding rocks.
2. BOOYAH One Knocker and Hard Knocker
If you don’t Knock, the fishes won’t answer…but seriously: The One Knocker is well-known by that name for its deeper knocking sound (like a bigfoot hitting a tree?) and the Hard Knocker is more of a rattler.
Colors: Toledo gold, Rayburn red, sunset craw (pictured). Sizes: 1/4- and 1/2-oz.
Situations: Rip it outta grass, bang it off of timber around spawning flats, burn it down rocky banks. The One Knocker is a more-subtle sound if the fish tell you you need that.
Best rod: 7′ to 7′ 6″ M or MH with a mod-fast or fast action and a soft tip. Action needs to strong enough to rip the bait out of grass, soft tip so trebles not ripped outta bass’ mouths.
Best reel and line: 7:1 or 8:1 reel for fast retrieves, 12-20 lb fluoro depending on type of cover and size Knocker. The 1/4-oz casts better with lighter line.
3. Strike King Red Eye Shad
This bait took about 30 months to develop, and the taskmaster was the one and only Kevin VanDam — who wanted a lipless bait that would do a couple different things, including shimmy as it dropped. Won’t say that’s the main deal with this bait, but it’s one of ’em.
Best colors: The cooler is it, the more craw colors into play: delta red, green tomato, orange belly craw, chili craw, blue craw (pictured). In warmer water move to baitfish colors: chrome blue, chrome black, gold black back, sexy shad, gold sexy, chrome sexy, chartreuse perch.
Situations: Good in shallower, flatter areas, but also excels in deeper water. The internal ballast weight system makes it always fall vertically which makes it deadly when snatching it out of deep grass, and “yo-yoing” it down steep pre-spawn banks and creek drops.
Best rod: Option 1 is a shorter MH moderate-action rod for fishing around the bank and targets — basically a squarebill rod like the Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Squarebill Crankbait Rod. Option 2 is a 7′ 6″ MH mod-action rod for making long casts on flats and in the backs of bays/spawning areas — like the Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Speed Stick.
Best reel and line: With a fast reel you can always reel slower, but you can only reel so fast with a lower gear-ratio reel, so use a Team Lew’s Custom SLP Series Reel (8.3:1). Line is 15-20 lb fluoro, 17-lb being a good all-around size.
4. Yo-Zuri 3DR Series Vibe
A little different size, a little different sound, way different paint and flash. Might be what the fishes need, maybe they haven’t seen it before, all good reasons to tie one on. Info from Elitist Brandon Card:
Best colors: real brown crawfish.
Situations: “North-facing grass flats adjacent to creek channels and spawning areas. In the pre-spawn, I’ll be looking for submerged grass growing maybe 2′ off the bottom in 5′ of water — hydrilla or milfoil and the clumpier the better! Sunny, windy days are the best for all 3DR baits because the sun reflecting off the internal prism draws fish from far away.”
Best rod, reel, line: 7′ 3″ MH F Abu Garcia Villain Rod, Abu Revo STX (7.3:1), 16- or 20-lb Yo-Zuri Top Knot fluoro depending on how thick the grass is.
5. Mo’ lipless stuff
Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon
Here’s Elitist Stetson Blaylock talkin’ in a good tip about using lighter Seaguar InvizX fluoro (a popular choice at the recent Bassin’masters Classic btw) for more bites with lipless cranks, and how he fishes ’em pre-spawn:
7′ 3″ MH Favorite Emperor Rod
Rated for 3/8- to 3/4-oz baits so the Emperor‘s in the sweet spot for lipless cranks. It’s s’posed to good to be the king, so guess it #rawks when you’re the emperor — how is it Palpatine?
SPRO Aruku Shad
The Aruku Shad is “specifically designed for fishing thru aquatic vegetation. Its nose-down action makes it one of the most weedless lipless crankbaits on the market.” Sweet finishes (red crawfish pictured) and a couple different sizes available too (5/8- and even 3/8-oz).
Kistler KLX Feel n Reel 7′ 2″ MH Rod
More treble hooks means more Feel n Reel rods, in this case the 7′ 2″ MH Kistler KLX Feel n Reel mod-action rod (KLXFNR72MH). Trey says 15-lb fluoro is good, or 20-lb braid for grass-rippin’.
Here’s Trey learnin’ ya about the Feel n Reels:
Alpha Angler Rebound Rod
Alpha’s Jake Boomer insists the Rebound rod is NOT named after former NBAer Charles Barkley, aka the Round Mound of Rebound even tho he’s a fisherman:
Callin’ Jake out on that, but anyhow Boomer says it’s called the Rebound cuz of “its ability to recover slowly from surges of barely-hooked derby-winning fish.” That MIGHT make sense. More:
> “Based on the rare S2-Glass fishing rod blank technology, this stick has all the fish-landing characteristics of fiberglass, with the added benefit of sensitivity not found in other versions of glass.”
He likes a slow- or medium-retrieve reel and 15-lb fluoro. Here’s a vid on the rod with some dude named Brandon: