Cold weather rip baiting

About the author

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens is the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a four-time runner-up in the Bassmaster Classic. He's widely regarded as the best natural angler in the Elite Series.

Not much has changed since last week’s blog so I thought I'd start off with a winter fishing tip. Call it a Christmas present from your buddy Aaron.

I throw rip baits (jerkbaits) all year around, but one of my favorite times to throw them is in the dead of winter. During this time of year, slow down and lighten up your gear as the temperature drops, and you can heat up your winter fishing.

Right now in most of the southern and western states the water temperatures are in the high 40s or low 50s. For water temperatures still this high, I'll stick with medium weight and action gear. I'll use 30-pound Sunline braid with a 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. I'll fish a Megabass Vision 110 or a Vision 110 Magnum.

The key to catching fish with a rip bait in colder water is finding the right action and pause length. A good starting point with the water in the high 40s and low 50s is medium length rips with pauses of about two to three seconds between rips. From there you can alter the action of the rips and the length of the pauses until you find what the fish want.

As the water temperatures drop into the low 40s and high 30s I will switch up my gear and ripping pattern. I recommend switching to straight fluorocarbon line instead of the braid/leader combination. For water in the low 40s, I use seven-pound Sunline Shooter. Once the water gets below 40 I switch to seven-pound Sunline FC Sniper, which is better in really cold water. Because we won’t be able to set the hook as hard as with heavier line, I'll also make sure that I have light wire hooks and a soft action Megabass rod.

In the colder water, I recommend longer pauses and shorter, more subtle rips. Sometimes pauses as long as 10 to 12 seconds will be the key to triggering strikes. Most of the time a bass will strike during the pause. Lighten up your gear and increase the length of your pause as the water temperatures drop, and you’ll catch more fish.

Off the water, it's good to be with my family in Southern California. My dad's birthday was earlier this week, and it was good to spend the day with him. I've been helping my mom around the house as well.

I'm hoping to find some time to get over to see my bros at Roboworm. They're always up to something new and creative. If I can get over there maybe I can get you a behind the scenes look of what goes on at Roboworm.

On the flight in, my nephew Justin Martens shot this photo of Lake Castaic from the plane. This is where it all started for me — my home lake.

Before I go, I'd like to wish everyone happy holidays!

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