When the bass are active and chasing, the lipless crankbait can be one of the best ways to catch them and quickly. But, when they are biting, there are quite a few lures that will trick a bass into biting.
When things get tough, lipless crankbaits can still be a handy tool if you know how to apply a few tricks.
Major League Fishing pro Jacob Wheeler knows a thing or two about lipless crankbaits and relies on them during extremely cold conditions and during the times when the bite shuts down seemingly out of nowhere.
Here, he shares a THREE ways that he catches them on lipless crankbaits when the fishing is tough.
Not Just Any Lipless
One of Wheeler’s favorite lipless baits, when the fishing gets tough, is the Storm Arashi Vibe. He likes it because he feels that it is a more subtle bait.
The Arashi Vibe has similar specs to most lipless crankbaits on the market. It is a 2 ¾” bait that weighs 9/16 ounces putting it right in line with just about every other lipless. The key, according to Wheeler, is the thin profile and subtle sound it makes.
“I like to think of it as the ‘Shad Rap of lipless crankbaits’ because it is more of a finesse style lipless crankbait. It has a tighter wiggle, and it is relatively quiet, almost like a soft one knocker sound,” Wheeler has learned. “It works great when the water is clear, the fish are pressured, and also in cold water.”
#1 Rip Different Around Grass
Ripping lipless crankbaits through grass is a proven technique, and anglers everywhere have learned how effective it can be. The quick movement it causes once it clears the grass is a great way to get a reaction from a bass.
Wheeler, like the rest of us, utilizes this technique with a standard lipless crankbait but changes it up when fishing the Storm Arashi Vibe.
“I don’t rip it as hard. The key is to use more of a pull out of the grass,” Wheeler said. “Short little pops give it a more natural look, and that bait is totally different than what other anglers throwing and how they are fishing their lipless baits.”
By changing the action of how hard you pull, anglers can affect how their bait acts when fishing around vegetation. Wheeler believes that these short pulls and subtle vibration are critical when everyone else is ripping lipless crankbaits through submerged vegetation.
#2 Try the "Slack Fall”
Over the years, Wheeler has learned that when fishing hard bottoms like shell beds and rocky flats, bass will often pin baits against the bottom.
“You’ll notice that you are starting to catch fish hooked outside of the mouth or you may be missing a lot of bites. This is a clue that they are following baits down towards the bottom, and they are not very aggressive,” he said.
To counter this and hook more bass, he adjusts his retrieve with the Arashi Vibe.
“I like to ‘reel, reel, reel’ quickly and then let it fall on a slack line. This is an excellent way to get those bass that are used to pinning baitfish to the bottom.”
The Right Retrieve for Cold Water
When the water gets cold, the bass will still bite a moving bait like a lipless crankbait according to Wheeler. The most significant factor to success is having the right retrieve.
“In cold water, retrieve speed is everything and a lipless will catch them everywhere from one foot deep to 25-feet deep when the water is cold,” he said.
Cold water to Wheeler is anytime the water dips into the 40’s. “They will still eat a lipless when the water is in that 45 to 48-degree range, but it is usually out a little deeper. I have found that lipless crankbaits are a great way to trigger those lethargic bass,” said Wheeler.
One way to do this is to fish the bait vertically similar to the way that anglers fish a blade bait. The thin sides of the Storm Arashi Vibe create a solid vibration on the retrieve, according to Wheeler. By ripping the rod up and letting it fall, you can replicate that vibration and get the attention of cold water bass.
The lipless crankbait is a proven design for a fishing lure, and just about every brand makes one. The key is to learn to fish them with subtle differences to your retrieve and to take advantage of the uniqueness of each individual bait. When faced with tough fishing conditions, the Storm Arashi Vibe is one of Jacob Wheeler’s favorite weapons.