When I won at the St. Johns River, the spinnerbait and worm produced the winning fish, but it was a new lure from Luck-e-Strike that put me in position to win.
The Hail Mary is a uniquely designed lipless crankbait that I helped create for more versatility. I used it throughout the St. Johns River practice to locate areas holding fish that ultimately produced the winning stringers. When those fish moved under docks and into shallow vegetation, I had to change tactics.
I’ve used lipless crankbaits throughout my career and have won other tournaments with them. I usually have one tied on anytime I’m trying to locate fish during warm water months because it is great for drawing strikes.
What sets the Hail Mary apart from other lipless versions is it's designed to be just as effective during cold weather months as it is during the summer.
You will notice this lipless bait has a pot belly which allows us to add more weight yet maintain the same profile as a 1/2-ounce bait. The Hail Mary is offered in 3/4- and 1-ounce sizes; I like the 1 ounce for deep water and the 3/4 ounce for fishing over grass.
The 1/2-ounce body design is one of the most reliable for getting strikes, but the added weight offers more versatility depth-wise. To be honest, that’s what has prevented most lipless crankbaits from being a 12-month-a-year bait – you can’t fish them as effectively in water depths that fish use during the winter.
The Hail Mary runs true the moment it hits the water and is easy to control when fishing shallow water.
We called it the Hail Mary because you can cast it a long ways. That’s true of most lipless crankbaits, but this one has the weight and aerodynamics to add distance to your cast.
That’s important when trying to find fish, because the key to any day on the water is to cover as much territory as you can and catch as many fish as you can in a limited amount of time.
Anglers generally consider lipless baits for fishing over grass, but the Hail Mary is designed to catch bass in non-grass areas as well.
You can fish it like a jig, jigging spoon or a Silver Buddy-style blade bait by popping it off the bottom and letting it settle back. Or, you can slow roll it in deep water and maintain good vibration.
It’s important to remember to let it free fall periodically and be prepared for strikes. A lot of fish will strike as the lure starts to fall after you pause it.
I like to make a long cast just as I would with a deep running crankbait, then count it down to the preferred depth and slow reel it back. I also like to sweep the rod and then reel back to the bait, just as you would a jerkbait. Those are techniques that work really well with the Hail Mary in colder weather.
I’m very traditional when it comes to colors. During winter, I like natural, red and shad colors. In warmer weather, I’ll go to shad or crawfish colors. Just match colors to the prominent baitfish in the lake.
The Hail Mary looks and performs differently than most lipless baits, but I’m convinced it will give anglers an edge regardless of the time of year.