#32 – Lipless Crankbait

Lipless Crankbait, AKA:

“Rat-L-Trap” (made popular by Bill Lewis)
“Vibrating Lure”

I would be willing to bet most anglers’ first ever crankbait fish come on a lipless crankbait. Lipless cranks are easily found in your local superstore at a low price. Not only are they easy to come by, but you can catch a fish on one simply by chucking it out in the water and reeling it in.

The names pretty much sum it up. It’s a rattling crankbait without a diving lip that you find on most other crankbaits. This lure sinks instead of diving to set depth, so it can be fished at various depths depending on the retrieve. The lipless body also creates a tight wiggle motion as opposed to the wider wobble of other cranks.

Lipless Crankbait

Advantages of a Lipless Crankbait

  • Rattletraps come in heavier weights than crankbaits of similar size, meaning you can cast these things the length of a football field. OK–maybe not quite that far, but you can definitely cover a lot of water.
  • The tight wiggle sets it apart from other presentations. This is especially true and effective in cold water conditions.
  • The movement and rattle alone can catch you a fish simply by chucking it out there and reeling it back in (I’m not saying the chances are GREAT. But it is certainly possible)
  • The tight form and movement allow this lure to rip through submerged grass and weeds.
  • Lipless crankbaits sink. A pause on the retrieve will cause the bait to flutter to the bottom in a way that looks like a dying baitfish.


How to Fish it

Like I said, the lazy approach of toss and retrieve does have the potential of catching you a fish, but there are a few techniques that will increase your chances. First off, shad don’t swim in a perfectly straight line for 100+ feet like they are on some one-lane fish highway. Using your rod to create some erratic change in the direction of the lure path will help mimic a real fish. Another thing to keep in mind is that your retrieve speed will affect the depth at which the lure runs (slower=lower, faster=higher).

Two other tricks to try:

  1. A quick burst or a sudden drop. If you run a lipless crank through grass, you will feel it slow as it grabs the green. Giving it a hard rip will free it from the grass and give it a sudden burst of speed and rattle. Hold on for a strike.
  2. A yo-yo type retrieve is another good way to catch fish. Lift your rod tip and then allow the bait to suddenly flutter down while you collect the slack with your reel. Again, pay close attention for a strike.

Extra Beginner Tips:

  • Monofilament line works fine for lipless crankbaits. 15lb test is a good middle point.
  • Just as speed affect depth so does line weight. Heavier=higher. Lighter=Lower (some more info on line)
  • A ½ oz lure is also middle of the road for lipless cranks.
  • Lots of guys like to go with chrome and a blue or black back color as a standard.

Experiment and see what works on your local water!