Lipless crankbaits are a great way to fish for wintertime bass. Their ability to hold closer to the bottom, the sound they emit, the action, and the versatility are what sets them apart. But you’ve got to understand them inside and out to be successful, especially in the colder months.
1.) Size And Weight Matter
It can be easy to grab a rattle trap from your local tackle shop and start casting it. But the size and weight of your lure matter in winter. Most guys will grab a larger lipless crankbait in spring and summer and burn it fast or yo-yo it around flats. But in winter, when fish are typically deeper and lethargic, you’ll want to stay closer to the bottom and present a slightly easier target.
Smaller baits equal smaller hooks which means easier hook sets in winter. A compact presentation is easier to get in their mouths. Lures like the Lucky Craft LV-500 are fantastic for their weight. This bait will keep you closer to the bottom and help you to make long casts.
2.) Lipless Crankbaits: Natural Colors
In clear, cold water, I like to throw natural colors. In winter, fish are slow and lethargic and towards the bottom. Being this sensitive, it’s best to present a meal as calmly as possible – kinda like waking up early to a blasting alarm clock and two kids banging pots over your head or waking up slowly to the smell of coffee and eggs. For this reason, I avoid chartreuse and bright yellows and reds. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for those colors, especially when bass are aggressive and full of energy when they’ll chase down and smoke a crank up shallow.
When targeting other species like striped bass, I’ll break my natural color rule and go with something chartreuse. This time of year ( and especially this winter) rains can be devastating. In fact, California was hit by a bomb cyclone. Our lakes and river systems have been flooded with debris and mud leaving our water looking like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. This is when a chartreuse 1/2 oz Rat-l-Trap comes into play. The obnoxious sound sends vibrations all over a fish’s lateral line.
3.) Lipless Crankbaits: Line Choice is Key
When selecting a line, remember the smaller the line the faster it will sink. Try going with 10-12lb mono when throwing lipless crank baits and move to braid only for crisp action. In fact, I’ll move to braid a lot in winter for that fast burn and pause cadence. Braided line has a zero stretch quality and tends to whip a crankbait around fast with a crisper action.