Lipless crankbaits such as the legendary Rat-L-Trap are a lot more versatile than most bass fisherman give them credit for. Cliff Crochet shares some of his favorite non-traditional ways of fishing lipless crankbaits in shallow water in place of other moving bait mainstays such as squarebill crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and bladed jigs. For Crochet, it’s all about showing the bass something different to get a few extra bites.
Like other moving baits, contacting cover is essential. Rather than just casting and reeling in, Crochet constantly alters his rod angle and retrieve speed while pumping and killing the bait, all of which bring it to life. He’s also a fan of letting the bait sink around hard bottom areas and reeling it in direct contact with rocks. The flat nose of a Rat-L-Trap causes the bait to flare to the sides without snagging when it collides with structure and cover.
It’s essential to select the proper bait size depending on the depth you’re fishing. A 1/2-ounce lipless crankbait is Crochet’s go-to when fishing 4 feet or deeper, while he scales back to a 1/4-ounce when fishing shallower than 4 feet. He achieves additional depth control through rod angle, retrieve speed, and line diameter.
FEATURED TACKLE (retail links)
- LIPLESS CRANKBAIT – Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, 1/2-ounce, color – Diamond Dust
- ROD – KastKing Spirale Series Casting Rod, 7’4″ Med Hvy
- REEL – KastKing Bassinator Elite Classic Casting Reels, 8.1:1
- LINE – Kast King Kovert Fluorocarbon Line, 15- to 20-pound
Make casts down wind-blown banks at a 45-degree angle — this lets you bring the bait through various depths and cover types and is the best way to determine the preferred depth and cover type on any given day. And if you really want to turn some heads (people and fish!), consider skipping and pitching his “traps” under docks. The bait skips like a dime and sinks with a measured fall, so you can easily adjust your depth or yo-yo them back to the boat. Apply dock fishing 101 techniques with a non-traditional bait to catch bass unconditioned to lipless crankbaits on docks.
Power fishing lipless crankbaits isn’t a dainty finesse fishing technique, so Crochet advises stepping up to a medium-heavy power casting setup equipped with a high-speed reel and 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon line.