Going LiplessBy Dustin Smith - June 1, 2002
How To Fish Lipless Cranks
A Lipless Crankbait is not just limited to a steady retrieve. It can be jigged, burned, yo-yo, and my favorite what I like to call Rippin. Jigging a Lipless Crankbait is simply letting your line fall down vertically under the boat and jigging it up and down much like a jigging spoon. Burning a Lipless Crankbait is reeling as fast as you can with a high-speed reel looking for a reaction strike. Yo-Yoing a Lipless Crank means fishing like you would a jig, letting it settle to the bottom and lifting your rod tip and following it down over and over. It imitates a distressed or injured baitfish. Now for my favorite Rippin a Lipless Crankbait. First of all, this is not a technique you will learn right away (at least I didn't). It takes a little time to master how to rip your bait free of the weeds and the difference between weeds and a fish. Start with a Steady Retrieve and when you feel resistance from weeds snap your rod tip up fast and it will (with practice) become free of weeds. As you rip it off the weeds let the bait sink for a second. This will give the bass enough time you take the bait in. Many of the bass you catch will hit right when you rip it or when it is falling. I believe they do this because the bass is near the bait and once it makes a different action, sound, vibration from when you rip it from the weeds on instinct he reacts. This is a highly successful technique that works best under specific conditions.
When and Where
I fish this bait anytime when the water temp is above 50 degrees. Some baits have a certain "time" when they work best but I believe this bait works spring, summer and fall. In the spring you can probe the shorelines with it, fish for pre-spawn bass in newly hatching weedbeds. In the summer you can fish it on wind-blown points, rip it over weedbeds or fish it deeper on outside weed edges. In the fall when the bass are schooling and feeding heavily on minnows throw it around schooling fish on flats close to deep water. It works both in muddy and clear water and anything in between. In muddy water the vibration and the sound from the bb's calls the fish in and in clear water you can crank it in fast and get reaction strikes.
There are tons of Lipless Cranks on the market now but one stands out from all the rest for a few reasons. The problem with most lipless crankbaits is that they don't come with a good pair of hooks nor do they have a paint job that doesn't come off as quickly from toothy critters. The Rattle Flash that bassfishinglures.net sells is top of the line for a low-end price. They come with a sharp pair of Mustad Trebles that will increase your odds of keeping fish on your line. They have the most reflective paint job I have ever seen, it is simply incredible. Their bb's are also much louder then the competing Lipless Cranks. If you are for any reason unsatisfied with the Rattle Flash you can get a full 100% refund no questions asked. Other companies that make good lipless cranks are Rattle-Trap, Cordell Spot. Now for colors, colors are a very small detail I believe in this bait because it is a reaction bait and they strike on the action on instinct and don't have time you to think about the color. I like colors that imitate baitfish since that is what you want it to look like. Colors like silver sides with a Blue back, Threadfin imitators, or whatever best imitates your forage or whatever you have confidence in. As far as weight, I like ½ oz. for almost every situation although sometimes in clear water when you want to cast far, fish a little deeper but still crank just as fast, a ¾ oz. bait works well too. In early spring also I will sometimes use the smaller size like ¼ oz. since the baitfish are smaller in the spring.
I use a specific rod action and length for Lipless Cranks. I like a 7' Bass Pro Extreme Rod in Medium Heavy Action. I like the long rod so I can cast a long ways and plus have good control over the fish. I use the Medium Heavy action because for rippin through the weeds a Medium action rod or anything else just won't do. It will load up with weeds and you won't be able to rip it out of the weeds. For my reel, I use a Shimano Curado with a 6.2:1 gear ratio, it gets 23" per turn of the handle, which is a must since I use a fast retrieve always. Depending on how fast you want your bait to fall depends on the line size. The lighter the line the faster it falls and the heavier the line the slower is falls. I like 15-17 lb P-line CXX as a general line but depending on the cover you are fishing you can either go lighter or heavier.
As you fish the Lipless Crank you find out a few things that makes fishing more productive and also easier. When casting it, you usually don't have to chuck it as hard as you can since it is very streamlined and will cast a country mile even with just a mediocre cast, it will save your shoulder when your done fishing. Always keep a hook sharpened handy in the boat to sharpen the hooks up just in case they get dull. That about wraps it up, have fun fishing Lipless Crankbaits and catch some big ones.