Burning a lipless crankbait to tempt aggressively feeding bass during winter is out of the question, right? Sort of.
Bass and baitfish metabolism slow, and both fish are lethargic and unwilling to go chasing after food. The workaround is using a new size lipless crankbait that is ideal for cold water bass fishing, while doing double duty as an effective lure for ice fishing.
That bait is the Jackall TN50, and although designed for bass fishing, the lipless crankbait has a niche for ice fishing. The 2-inch TN50 weighs in at 3/8 ounces, and is offered in four new colors, and in the same eight colors as the larger TN60 and TN70 models.
“It is a good choice when the bass are lethargic and feeding on smaller bait,” said Jeff Gustafson, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Ontario, Canada. “It’s kind of like a finesse version of a lipless crankbait.”
To his point, the smaller profile bait adds versatility with the ability to be slowly retrieved across the water column, or vertically jigged with a yo-yo action for suspended bass,
“The smaller profile allows the bait to be worked slower, and on a vertical fall it resembles a dying baitfish, which is common during cold water periods,” noted Gustafson.
Gustafson lives near Lake of the Woods, where he enjoys ice fishing during the offseason. That is when the TN50 does double duty and shines in its prime role.
“With ice fishing you want to drill your hole directly over isolated structure that attracts fish, because you don’t have the ability to move around like in a boat,” he said.
Rockpiles and boulders rising off the bottom are ideal habitat for attracting walleye and other gamefish during winter. That also makes the perfect setup for using the TN50 with its unique design.
A Tungsten Mouth System on the outside lip enables the bait to stand straight up on the bottom, also allowing it to land nose down in a feeding position to entice walleye, perch, northern pike and whitefish.
“It’s really quiet below the ice, and a really loud bait like the TN50 is going to call in the fish from a wide area,” said Gustafson. “That, and the vibrating action it emits when jigged up and down.”
That makes the TN50 a good choice for the entire water column. The TN50 can be crashed into the bottom to make noise and stir up sediment, or it can be vertically jigged for suspended lake trout and whitefish.
For a bass setup, Gustafson uses a 7' 1" G. Loomis IMX -855C lipless crankbait rod, on a Shimano Curado MGL 70 baitcaster that he spools with 12-pound fluorocarbon. For ice fishing, he uses a G. Loomis IMX-PRO Ice 372 rod, on a Shimano Vanford reel that he spools with 8-pound Power Pro Ice-Tec line.
Gustafson likes the diversion of ice fishing from his regular job. It’s fun, and can be shared with multiple anglers, unlike being confined to a bass boat.
“You can make a social experience out of it, even in these challenging times,” he said. “Getting out on the ice is relaxing, because you aren’t running around in a boat.”
He added, “all it takes is using the right bait and drilling your hole over the habitat and having fun.”