Reaction baits, Part 1: Ripping traps in grass

About the author

Andrew Upshaw

Andrew Upshaw

Andrew Upshaw of Hemphill, Texas, teamed with Ryan Watkins to win the 2011 Mercury College B.A.S.S. National Championship for Stephen F. Austin, then edged Watkins for the first Bassmaster Classic berth from the collegiate series.

If you have ever been to Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn from about September to March, you know one of the primary tactics is ripping a lipless crankbait through the grass. What I’m going to talk about today is just that. I’m going to give you all the basic tools you need to be a better “Trap” fisherman on your specific body of water.

Grass: First thing you need is cover; in this case, grass. Now there are many different types of grass out there, my favorites for a trap are either hydrilla or milfoil.

Now that you know that we are targeting grass, the next thing you need to know is how to determine which grass is better than others. When throwing a lipless bait, I look for one of two different scenarios; one being a straight edge and the other a scattered edge. Straight edges seem to be good in a number of different scenarios, and each has their place for different techniques. A lot of times with a scattered edge, it develops tunnels to throw your lipless bait through which are prime targets for catching bass.

October to December Lure Selection: I normally throw either a shad color or gold. When fall hits and we start experiencing colder weather, fish begin to feed a lot on my home lakes. I really like flashy colors this time of year (something like black/chrome or black/gold). I prefer to throw a Strike Pro Flap Jack 1/2 ounce in Silver Shad. I like the 1/2 ounce version better here because a lot of times your grass is a little bit taller and the fish seem to be a little shallower.

January to February Lure Selection: I love red shades of traps this time of year. My favorite is a Strike Pro Flap Jack 3/4 ounce in Bloodshot Craw. It’s red with a few white lines on it to break up the color. I normally like any color that I throw to be broken up with another because to me it tends to stand out better than someone throwing just a basic red trap. I throw the little bit heavier model here because I want to fish the deeper grass edges with this bait.

March Lure Selection: This is about the end of trap season for our lakes unless we have unseasonably cold weather. I have had a lot of luck this time of year on a Strike Pro Flap Jack 1/2 ounce in Sensuous Shad, which looks just like the one KVD is famous for!

Retrieve: The retrieve is crucial for success. I throw three basic retrieves:

Normal slow winding: Good for January and February

Yo-Yo Retrieve: Works really well in the fall for me but on occasion will work in January and February.

Super-Fast: This seems to work pretty much year around; you can never fish a Flap Jack too fast. Now the main reason I throw a Flap Jack is pretty simple; a fish gets so used to hearing a regular Rat-L-Trap or a Yo-Zuri that just a little change in vibration or color seems to go that much further. Although Rat-L-Traps and Yo-Zuris are amazing baits, I always like to stay ahead of the curve and show fish something they haven’t seen before.

Rod, Reel, Line: As far as line goes, in the fall I throw 20-pound Izorline XXX Copolymer because of its strength and the fact that it allows my lure to ride higher in the water. The rest of the time I throw 15-pound Izorline XXX Copolymer because I want my bait a little deeper. You see how I never mentioned braid or fluorocarbon? It's not that I don’t like them; I just don’t personally like them for this technique. I want a little give in the line and just a little more stretch then like the other two lines. Rod-wise, I use only one; a Lew's Tournament SL Rod in any length from a 7 feet to a 7 feet, 6 inches but in a heavy action. I love throwing a heavy-action rod with a lipless bait because it allows me to rip the bait free of grass so much easier. As far as reels go, I use a 7:1 gear ratio Lew's Tournament Pro reel. It is so smooth with a cast and has a great drag system.

I hope all this helps you become a better “trap” fisherman and feel free to leave any questions at the bottom and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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