It’s no secret that lipless crankbaits are killer lures for prespawn bass. Amazingly, these obnoxiously colored and sounding lures have been catching big bass for decades, especially on grass lakes like Fork, Sam Rayburn, and Guntersville.
While lipless cranks produce a lot of strikes, they are notorious for fish swatting at them, following them, and worst of all, coming unhooked while fighting bass. To help correct these problems, following are a few tips on how to land more bites from one of my all-time favorite fishing techniques:
Bait: Lipless cranks are not a secret, so bass see a ton of them in the spring and quickly become conditioned to traditional baits, so new designs often catch more than old favorites. In the past couple of years, Lucky Craft introduced the RTO lipless cranks with a dying shimmy on the fall and a flat head that creates a wider wobble than most lipless cranks. In addition, they created a GP version of their very productive LV series of baits, with a small blade on the underside of the lure. The extra flash and clack of the blade as it falls gives bass a totally different look, sound, and feel.
Efficiency: Lipless cranks excel at both catching actively feeding fish and triggering inactive fish to bite, especially when ticking or ripped free from grass. Simply put, the more water you cover with them in a day, the more bass you’ll put your bait in front of and the more bites you’ll get. It’s not simply a matter of the number of total casts in a day though. A retrieve that comes back to the boat with grass all over your bait is a wasted cast, and it hurts your efficiency. Rigging correctly to consistently tear the bait cleanly from submerged vegetation is imperative to maximize your success.
Rod: Fiberglass rods maximize your landing percentage with lipless cranks because the slow bend allows bass to take the bait deeper and keeps them buttoned up when barely hooked. While I love the Dobyns 705CB GLASS for open water, the slow action of glass rods won’t rip cranks cleanly from grass as well as graphite. Furthermore, fiberglass has less feel, so your lipless crank is often substantially tangled in grass before you sense it, compounding the problem; therefore, I throw an 8’ Dobyns 804CB graphite cranking rod. This rod has a mod-fast tip action but a stout butt section—enough tip to let bass take the bait and keep them hooked, but plenty of power to rip baits free of hydrilla with a sharp wrist snap. Since lipless crank fishing is somewhat physically demanding, I also like the fact that this rod is well balanced and light, allowing me to fish it all day. Finally, the 8’ length allows for ultra-long casts to cover huge amounts of water.
Line: In open water, 12 to 20 lb fluoro matched with a fiberglass rod is a great setup. Fishing around grass though, braided line’s no stretch saws through grass and rips baits right out. Remembering that a bait fouled with grass is a wasted cast, being able to rip it free is key. Therefore, 50 to 65 lb braid is my choice around grass.
By Tom Redington
Tom Redington is a FLW Tour pro, host of TV’s “Big Bass Battle” & a bass guide on Lake Fork. To make the most of your experience in the outdoors, he recommends the Boy Scouts of America, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, Dobyns Rods, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards, Diamond Sports Marine, Lucky Craft, Costa Sunglasses, Lowrance, & Power Poles.