Secrets of The Lipless Crankbait-Rattle Trap!
8:04 PM | Author: Tech Tactical

One of the best benefits with fishing the lipless crankbait is the ability to cover water and find fish. Once you find the fish you may end up actually catching them on another bait but there are few lures which can truly cover all different types of water and depths to consistently find and catch bass. The rattle trap is always tied on one of my rods especially if fishing a new lake or if I have not been on the water for some time.

I like to use a medium action rod about 6′ to 6 1/2′ long. There has been a lot of discussion on the reel gear ratio and line pick up when fishing a lipless crankbait. The general consensus seems to be “use a high retrieve reel” when fishing a rattletrap. I completely disagree. I prefer a basic gear retrieve of under 6:1, you’ll see why in a moment. Line size really depends on where you are fishing. If you are fishing around cover and the possibility exists that a big fish can get into it, use a heavy line. If in clear open water downsize your line. Use your best judgement. Unlike other crankbaits you have much more control of the depth a lipless crankbait runs without worrying about line size. I usually use 10 to 14 lb test which seems to cover about any situation I encounter.


When I started fishing a rattle trap there were a handful of basic colors to choose from so it was pretty easy to figure out. My basic color was chrome with a blue or black back. These combinations seemed to imitate most bait fish pretty well and are still my favorite colors. There are now more colors out there than we could ever choose from. Keep it basic see what kind of bait fish your lake holds and try to match as close as possible. Again the chrome with a blue, black or green back will work in most situations. Mixing it up within reason never hurts. I will say that in low light or muddy water conditions I will use a darker color bait. I have had success with “Smokey Joe”, Chartreuse and even red, yes red in certain conditions. Keep it simple, play around with a few colors and see what works best for you.

Back to the retrieve and reel gear ratio. For general fishing with a rattletrap I prefer a common medium retrieve reel. One of the main ways to find fish is covering a lot of water and varying the depth of the waters you are fishing. When using a basic medium retrieve reel you are able to adjust the depth of the bait with your retrieve. If you are fishing shallow, speed up the retrieve if fishing deep slow down the retrieve. If you want more depth let the bait sink 1 foot per second then start your retrieve. The objective right now is finding fish.

Now for the real secrets of fishing a Lipless Crankbait:

If you watch any of your friends fish with a lipless crank bait you will notice they cast the lure, reel it in and their done. At times this may be work; however if you want to catch more fish on a lipless crankbait follow these tips and you will be an expert in no time.

Fishing Schooling Bass

One of the best advantages of fishing a rattle trap is the ability to catch schooling fish. Again match the color with the bait fish. I typically use a 1/2 oz rattle trap for this situation. The 1/2 oz gives me the ability to cast a longer distance in the event the school moves or another school starts crashing bait further away. The majority of schooling fish you see on top feeding are smaller more aggressive bass. The larger fish are typically deeper waiting for the injured prey to feed on. With this in mind after you have caught a few of the smaller fish on top its time to catch the bigger fish under the main school. Make your typical cast but slow your retrieve. Very slow if the depth allows. Once you bait gets into the school vary your retrieve. Keep a slow steady retrieve then pull your rod to speed up your bait just a bit then stop, let your bait drop for a brief second then start a slow retrieve again. Keep varying your retrieve while keeping your bait deeper, beneath the smaller schoolies. Try different retrieves, the main thing to remember is your are trying to trigger a reflex strike from a deeper fish looking for injured prey. Once you have caught several bass from a school they will start to notice something is not quite right about the fact that every time one of their buddies eats your bait they disappear. It’s time to change your bait. Most fisherman will change the size or color of the crank bait. I prefer to completely change the manufacturer of the bait. All rattle traps have basically the same sound. If you change to a different manufacturer such as a” Cotton Cordel” or “Strike King” you have actually changed the sound of the bait which is much more successful then simply changing the color or size.

Fishing over Grass

Another huge benefit of fishing a lipless crankbait is fishing the bait over submerged grass. Fish the bait as close to the top of the submerged grass as possible. The best way to trigger a strike is to actually “tick” the top of the grass with your bait. While this can get frustrating and take some practice it will generate strikes. Once your bait touches the grass its time to “rip” the bait out of the grass. Again continue varying retrieves until you find what works best. Remember what works today may not work tomorrow.

Fishing Deep

The rattle trap has the ability of catching bass in almost all depths of water. I have found the best way to fish deeper is to fish the bait on almost slack line. This is the tricky part. As I mentioned earlier most people will simply cast the bait out and reel it in with a “tight” line and high speed reel. I have had much more success fishing the bait slower with a slack line. What I do is keep the rod tip at about 12:00 and actually retrieve the bait with a slight “bow” in my line. I’m not sure why but it just works. I will continue to vary my retrieve while still keeping the bait down deeper with a slower retrieve. You will catch larger fish.

The rattle trap or lipless crank bait is truly one of the most versatile lures in your tackle box. Whether your fishing the bait shallow, deep, around cover or in the middle of the lake in a school of bass it simply catches and finds fish. Remember the main point is to imitate injured bait fish. Have confidence in the bait, vary your retrieve and you’ll be guaranteed to catch more bass.

News Via - Bass Fishing Resource

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On February 8, 2009 at 9:28 AM , larryb said...

This is a very well written and quite informative piece on one of my favorite lures! My favorite RattleTrap is the "Floater" model, in gold and black back. Awesome in real shallow places and when they want their rattle slow! :-)

I'm gonna put a link to this article on one of my blogs to-day, I like it that much! ;-)

All the best Bass-Kicker,


On February 15, 2009 at 5:50 PM , Tech Tactical said...

Thank you very much LarryB I thought the very same thing after I read this artical although I have to give credit where credit is Due at the bottom of the post is the link where I found it! I agree that it is VERY well Put together! My favorite tactic is to skip a rattletrap on the top of the water kinda like a buzzbait tears em up everytime it makes it look just like a skipjack!