Sharing winter secrets, part 3

Last time I said I knew about a winter bass bait that’s better than a Silver Buddy but now I’m going to go even farther. My pick is superior to a drop shot in cold water. Those are powerful statements, I know. They’re also true.

The Silver Buddy has a well-deserved, legendary reputation in cold water anywhere there are drops or where the bass are holding around rock, sand or gravel. The drop shot is even more powerful. I’ve said for years that if you can’t catch a couple of bass on a drop shot you’re in for a seriously tough day. I don’t care what season it is or where you’re fishing.

Nevertheless, the bait I’m talking about will outshine either one of them, at least most of the time. It’s the Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig.

I know what you’re thinking. Ike’s always been a little crazy but this time he’s gone completely off the rails. It’s not that he’s half a bubble off plumb. It’s that you can’t see the bubble it’s so far off plumb. But hear me out.

First, look at this lure’s design. It has a single hook on each end and a treble hook on the belly. Anything that gets near it is going to be hooked on one of them. That’s important in the winter. Bites are typically soft and tentative. You need all the help you can get.

It also has a flat tail that gives it a wobble when it falls, and the fall is where it’s at. This bait will drop faster than a Silver Buddy. In most cases that’s better because it doesn’t give the bass time to look it over. It’s a now or never kind of presentation.

The Jigging Rap doesn’t vibrate as hard as a Silver Buddy, either, when you pull it up. To be honest with you that’s a two-edged sword. The vibration of the Silver Buddy when you pull it up is what attracts the bass. The fall is when they strike. The Jigging Rap is a more subtle version of that. When the water is cold less is more.

I’m concerned, though, that this is beginning to sound like a criticism of the Silver Buddy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s one of the all-time great cold water bass catching lures. I have boxes full of them and I fish them regularly in the winter. What I’m saying here is that there’s another option and in many cases it’s a better option.

This bait is best fished much like any metal blade bait. Let it fall. Pull it up. The only thing I do is work it a little slower than most. At its core it’s still a reaction bait, though.

My best producing sizes are those that are closest to the size of the forage where I’m fishing. As far as color is concerned I go with whatever looks natural. I match the hatch. One thing that I will mention, however, is that if your lake has rainbow trout in it you better be throwing Rapala’s rainbow trout color. It’s dynamite.

In the past three weeks we’ve covered three different approaches to catching winter bass. Give one of them a try.


Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.