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Chalk Talk: B. Lane on lipless crankbaits

Chalk Talk: B. Lane on lipless crankbaits

(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)

As the heat of summer gradually transitions toward fall, Florida pro Bobby Lane starts to increase the amount of time that a lipless crankbait is on the deck of his bass boat. Two of his favorites are the Yo-Zuri Hardcore Vibe 75 and the Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe, both of which cast a mile and have a discernable action on the fall. The former is slightly larger and heavier than the latter and they feature different vibrations, so the fish may prefer one over the other on any given day.

Whichever one you prefer, he said that it’s critical to use the right tackle. He likes an Abu-Garcia STX (7.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. He mounts the reel on a 7-foot Veritas baitcasting rod, making sure that it’s a medium action, not the medium-heavy that many of his colleagues prefer. It allows him to feel not only slack-line strikes, but also to make sure that the lure is working when he pauses it.

“This thing has the perfect shimmy, like a baitfish that’s dying,” he said. When it gets buried in the grass, he’ll jar it free by grabbing the bottom of his rod. Then, as it falls, the rod’s sensitivity allows him to tell if the bait is clean.

While late summer and early fall bass will sometimes eat the lipless cranks on a straight retrieve, Lane said that they typically prefer a more erratic action. That necessitates either a yo-yo style retrieve or a stop-and-go cadence.

Wind is your friend in this situation, he explained, because “wind crates current, which funnels fish.” He looks for natural and man-made funnels including bridges and blow-throughs. As a Florida native, he’s most comfortable around vegetation, and tries to focus on grass lines and cuts, with a particular affection for grass that is directly in the teeth of the breeze or gusts. When the water is still warm, he’ll keep the lure closer to the top of the water column. As it cools down, “they like to have deeper water next to them so they can feed. Accordingly, as temperatures drop, he prefers to cast, let the lure go all the way to the bottom, crawl it up off the bottom and let it go back down. He creates short hops with the rod tip and added that “every once in a while, I’ll give it a double hop.”

The key is to keep on experimenting with locations and retrieves. Fortunately, with a high-speed reel, a lipless crank is one of the best lures for covering large swaths of water very quickly. It’s possible to go for long periods of time with minimal action and then load the boat in short order.

“When you catch one, they’re usually not alone,” he concluded.

If you want to learn some of the other keys to Lane’s mastery of lipless crankbaits, including his favorite colors for various situations, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.

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