By Tyler Woolcott
The weather is cooling, and bass are feeding heavily before the spawn. This time of year, baitfish is prevalent in waters across the country, and there is one lure that puts fish in the boat just about everywhere. This bait is a lipless crankbait.
A lipless crank can play a huge role in getting baitfish-feeding bass to bite. I use it all over the country. Sometimes it’s as easy as casting it out and retrieving it steadily. But sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. Inside the lure, there are rattles. Sizes vary from ¼-ounce up to an ounce, and it is best to match the size of baitfish bass are feeding on.
There are different types of rattles inside different lures. Two I like are a multi-rattle and a one-knock. Multi-rattles make a lot of noise. I throw this style when fish are very active and feeding heavily. The noise draws their attention from real baitfish and gets them to react and eat your bait.
I like the one-knocker version and its slower, deeper-pitch knock when fish are feeding on baitfish, but not very actively. Fish tend to scatter out when they aren’t actively feeding, and that deeper pitch can sometimes trigger them to bite.
There are many ways to retrieve a lipless crankbait. A steady retrieve can sometimes be the trick, especially if you see bass feeding. But my absolute favorite way to fish a lipless crank is to yo-yo it. This is a varied retrieve with the reel handle, with an occasional pull and pause with the rod to let the bait flutter up and fall back down. This technique is deadly. When you pull the bait up fast, it makes a loud rattle. Then, when you let it flutter down, it looks like an injured baitfish, and bass can’t resist it.
In the fall, bass also feed on crayfish in some parts of the country. A lipless crank can be a massive player in this scenario. When crayfish flee, their tails smack against their bodies and make a clacking noise similar to a rattle.
When deciding colors, I match the color of the lure to the color of the baitfish present. 13 Fishing makes an awesome lure called the Magic Man that comes in both multi-rattle and one-knocker versions. When matching baitfish, I use chromes, whites and sometimes chartreuse. When mimicking crayfish, I use reds and oranges.
Trap Fishing Gear
I’ve done a ton of experimenting with setups for lipless cranks, and I’ve got it down to a science. When dealing with treble hooks, you want a rod with a decent amount of backbone and a bit of bend to let the fish get the hooks. I use a 13 Fishing Omen Black 7’4MH Moderate action rod. I pair this with a 7:1 Concept A 13 Fishing reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Abrazx line.
Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.