If I didn’t test baits for a living, I probably would have never tied on the Jenko Trapline RipKnocker. I would have simply made a snap judgment and written it off as a gimmick. After all, there are a lot of “normal” lipless crankbaits out there that work perfectly fine. When paired with the right set of treble hooks, the landing ratios with those normal baits is pretty solid.
And what you’re gaining from the Trapline RipKnocker’s design (in regards to the potential improved landing ratio), would seem to be forfeited right away by the exchange of two treble hooks for one. But I’m getting a little ahead off myself here. Let’s first look at what the Jenko Trapline RipKnocker is.
BASIC BUILD OF RIPKNOCKER
The Trapline RipKnocker blends the body of a lipless crankbait with the hook harness of a line-through swimbait. Much like a big swimbait, a lipless crankbait can be pretty hefty. As a bass thrashes back and forth, the weight of these baits can give the bass just enough leverage to throw the lure.
With a line-through swimbait, the bait can detach from the hook and slide up the line, taking the weight of the bait away from the hook and vastly decreasing the chances of the bass tearing free. Jenko decided to try this with a lipless, creating a lure design that has the body and action of a traditional lipless crankbait with the ability to separate from the hook.
The result is pretty unique in the world of bass fishing, though there were some other lipless baits once upon a time like this that have since been discontinued. Its nearest living relatives are tail-spin blade baits designed more for slow rolling in deep, cold water and vertical fishing.
WHAT YOU MISS ON RIPKNOCKER
The one thing that’s missing from the lipless side of this hybrid is pretty easily identifiable right off the top— a back treble hook. Almost all lipless crankbaits carry a front and back hook.
With the main appeal of this baits design being that more fish will get hooked and stay hooked, doing away with three of the six hook points on a bait like this seems a little counterintuitive. And this is certainly what lead to me shuffling this bait down the list of products to review for quite awhile.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH RIPKNOCKER
Again, because I literally get paid to test out baits (not lost on me that I’m wildly blessed in that regard), I’ll end up giving products a chance that wouldn’t have garnered a second look in the past, when I was a “serious” tournament angler.
This close mindedness of the Shaye of yesteryear probably cost me a lot of cool fish catches and invaluable experience with lots of off-the-wall baits and techniques. So, I actually like that what I do for a living now lures me outside of my comfort zone and my instinctual narrow-mindedness in regards to out-of-the-norm baits, like the Trapline Rip-Knocker.
Still, I was very skeptical as I ran the line through the top of the bait and out the belly, then tied the treble hook on via the attached split ring. I fired the bait out into a loaded local pond that I have the privilege to fish on from time to time, and what I experienced next was pretty mind blowing. I got a bite right away, and then another and another. I caught several fish on the RipKnocker quickly. But I could have no doubt trigger as many strikes whit another lipless, as I had there on various trips in the past.
No it wasn’t the bites this bait got that blew my mind, it was the amount of force a bass really has at its disposal when trying to throw a bait. The first fish I hooked on this bait might have weighed 2 pounds. It bit shallow and surfaced right away. Then with one burst of a side-to-side head shake, the bass sent the bait rocketing 20 to 25 feet up my line, all the while the hook stayed pinned in its jaw.
EXCELLENT HOOK TO LAND RATIO ON RIPKNOCKER
I was really quite amazed by how this bait would shoot up my line each time a fish jumped, and then slowly slide back down towards the hooked bass as it continued its fight underwater. The bass would surface again, sling the bait but not be able to free itself from the near weightless hook, and go back subsurface to prepare for another attempt. It’s been a month or so ago since that trip, so I don’t recall the exact number, but I’d say I hooked around 8 bass on this bait that day and never lost a single one. So, the landing ratio was great for sure.
But what about the hookup ratio? The landing ratio is determined by dividing the number of bass that made it to the boat by the number of bass that were hooked. So, 8 for 8 in this instance. But what about the number of bass that bit the bait divided by the number that actually got the hook? This is the hookup ratio, and it was right up there near a hundred percent as well.
I don’t recall feeling a single fish swat at the bait and miss it. Instead, every time I felt a bite, I hooked a fish. And then every time a fish was hooked, it made it to the boat. Judging solely by a somewhat fuzzy three decades of memory, I can’t remember having ever had as a high of hookup and landing ratio with any other lipless crankbait I’ve ever fished.
NO BACK HOOK TO SNAG
What surprised me about as much as how far each bass could and would sling the bait, was this stellar hookup ratio. Going into the testing of this product, I thought surely that the lack of a back hook would lead to a lot of swats, bites and bumps from bass that didn’t convert to catches. But it was almost like the fish were just shooting straight for that one hook. Multiple fish would have two hook points of that one large treble jammed into their jaw, with next to no chance of ever coming undone, even if I laid my rod down and gave them hours to give it their best efforts.
The Trapline RipKnocker costs $8.99, weighs 5/8 ounce and measures 3 inches. It comes paired with a sharp, round-bend VMC Treble Hook and is available in 12 colors. If you’re a fan of lipless crankbait fishing, this is certainly a bait you should try. It will teach you, like it did me, a lot about the leverage a bass can really gain when trying to throw any lipless bait, and thus make you more keenly aware of the inherent risks in battling a bass on any lipless you like.