What ‘music’ do the bass in your lake like?


Alan McGuckin

Rattling lipless crankbaits like the time proven Rat-L-Trap, or Strike King’s Red Eye Shad, are one of the easiest lures to use and they absolutely catch fish, but they don’t all sound the same.

And much like not everybody prefers Haggard, Waylon and Cash like I do, not all bass respond to the same rattles. So I thought I’d share a little insight on how I utilize various lipless crankbaits, comprised of differing rattle chambers, to catch more bass.

Try a Tungsten 2 Tap

This lure is less popular than the standard Red Eye Shad, largely because it’s pricier. It costs a little more because it’s made with a special tungsten rattle chamber that Strike King designed to offer bass a sound they rarely hear.

And trust me, there are days when a Tungsten 2 Tap will absolutely get more bites than other lipless rattling lures fished side-by-side in the same boat.

I reach for this one more and more because I truly feel its rare and seldom-heard sound gives me an advantage, especially in pressured fishing conditions like I encounter in bigger tournaments.

The More Affordable Standard

Much like the original Rat-L-Trap that became famous 50 years ago with its body full of free-floating BBs, the original Red Eye Shad is built much the same, and it emits a more traditional sound that’s less expensive than the Tungsten 2 Tap.

On days when weather fronts are approaching, the wind is blowing, there’s some cloud cover and you simply know it ought to be a good day of fishing – this works great as a money saving option.

What?! No Rattles?!

I know it sounds like an awkward paradox to suggest using a lipless crankbait with no rattles – but sometimes the silent treatment works best – especially when the fish get super finicky on slick calm sunny days.

The Strike King Silent Red Eye Shad is also a great choice during this time of year when fish are up shallow on spawning beds and they get spooked easily by louder lures. It seems like a silent lipless bait makes them eat when on a spawning bed because it sort of catches them by surprise, and they eat it purely as a reaction bite.

Colors and Size

I nearly always throw a 1/2-ounce version, and if I had to choose just three colors, I'd choose Summer Sexy Shad, Chartreuse Sexy Shad and the all-time best seller Chrome/Blue Back.

Replace the factory hooks

Lipless crankbaits are infamous for letting hooked bass come unbuttoned, so I replace all my factory hooks with #4 Owner Stinger treble hooks.

Rod, Reel and Line

Make sure you’re using a rod with a somewhat forgiving tip, because again, you want those hooks to stay buttoned, and too stiff a rod action tends to pull hooks free. As far as line, I like 12- or 15-pound Seagur spooled to a 6.3:1 reel.

Right now is a great time for lipless crankbaits – so if you’re casting one and not getting bites – change the "station" just a bit to offer the bass on your favorite lake a little different sound.