Lipless Crankbait: Everything You Need to Know To Catch More Fish

Lipless Crankbait: Everything You Need to Know To Catch More Fish

best bass bait for fishing

Among the various lures that have grown in popularity and truly carved out their own specific niche over the course of the last few decades, there is none perhaps more popular than lipless crankbaits. Years ago, there were very few brands that were focusing on making lipless crankbaits as this particular lure simply wasn’t seen as being worth the trouble. 

Fast forward to now and many of the best anglers in the world are staunch supporters of lipless crankbaits and even have their own favorite brands hammered down after years of experimenting with this unique style of lure. 

The lipless crankbait was first invented by fishing lure enthusiast Bill Lewis, who pioneered many different types of new lures in his day. The first lipless crankbaits were invented in the early 1960s and Lewis named his new lure the Rat-L-Trap after the old rickety station wagon he drove across the southern United States selling his lures and other tackle items. The name stuck and has since grown into a term that identifies this type of bait that is also known as the lipless crankbait. 

What is a Lipless Crankbait?

As you might suspect, this particular lure very closely resembles another world-famous tackle item, the crankbait. 

One of the only visible differences between these two baits is that typical crankbaits have a plastic lip jutting out of their mouth which drives the bait at a downward angle into the depths when it is retrieved by the angler. 

The lipless crankbait, on the other hand, is meant to glide effortlessly along at the same relative depth, which often helps this lure remain in the optimal strike zone for longer periods of time than most baits. 

Many lipless crankbaits have a partially hollow body that is fitted with weights or specially-made beads which give many of these lures their distinctive “rattling” sound as they’re being retrieved through the water. 

Fish often find this sound irresistible and bite the lure out of curiosity or hunger. The weights inside these lures are carefully-placed and work to balance the minnow-like body in a way that won’t let it tip over or dive. 

One of the most famous models of lipless crankbait is the Strike King Redeye Shad, which is already legendary in its own right. 

When To Use A Lipless Crankbait

Most professional anglers are adamant that the best time to use a lipless crankbait is the magical period in the early spring or late fall in which water temperatures usually hit levels at or near 45 and 60 degrees. 

Bass are generally in a mood to chase after fast-moving lures like a lipless crankbait and usually won’t hesitate to investigate one of these lures passing by their location. 

Most anglers know that when water temperatures are between 45 and 60 degrees, many different kinds of bait fish are highly active and will sometimes carelessly venture out into areas where larger fish lay in wait to ambush them. Bass are typically feeding on bluegill, shad, and other similar bait fish during early spring and late fall, which makes this lure especially useful in tricking them into taking a bite. 

A quality lipless crankbait is also highly effective at any time of the year and is widely considered to be one of the best cold-weather lures on the market today. Thanks to its design, anglers can easily let the lipless crankbait reach down into the depths before they start their retrieve, which lets this lure approach fish from above instead of having to work its way down like a deep-diving crankbait. 

Once it reaches bottom, an angler can then start winding to keep it in the strike zone and probe for any large bass hanging around the depths of any given lake or reservoir. 

Where To Fish A Lipless Crankbait

Experienced anglers and professionals are well-aware of the perfect relationship between these types of lures and grass beds. Lakes that feature long swaths of grass beds are generally great spots to use this bait to catch huge bass that are feeding in preparation for the spawn in the spring each year. Bait fish will often run a few feet above grass beds, which means running a lipless crankbait 2-5 feet above the grass is an outstanding strategy to get a full bag and bend some rods. 

One of the reasons why the lipless crankbait is so useful is its ability to quickly dive down into any area and simply resume the retrieve much in the same way an actual bait fish would. Professional anglers like to use this technique that involves letting their lipless crankbait touch the bottom of a flat or grass bed before quickly “ripping” it up and out of the weeds or other debris. 

Doing this closely mimics the behavior of a traveling bait fish and is a great way to produce bites from areas where other anglers might struggle to find fish. 

Fishing a lipless crankbait in deepwater of 15 feet or more is exceptionally easy compared to other lures as anglers need only to cast their Rat-L-Trap or lipless crankbait into the water and allow it to sink to the desired depth. 

In many cases, bass will strike the lure as it descends into the depths, leaving anglers to a pleasant surprise once they finally decide to lift up on their rod tip. 

Best Rod and Reel Combo For Lipless Crank

One of the great things about the lipless crankbait is its ability to be fished in a huge variety of different methods and movements. But for anglers looking to make use of the absolute best configuration for this lure, going with a fast-reeling 6.1:1 ratio reel is considered best by many professional bass anglers. 

Most anglers prefer a medium or medium-heavy action rod with a fast tip that will help the lure stay in a good tracking lane when being retrieved, especially at long distances. There is really no wrong way to fish a lipless crankbait as some anglers swear by a technique that involves twitching the rod tip and creating a sporadic motion, much like a jerkbait. 

One of the only downsides to this lure is that anglers will typically get hung up into brush piles, trees, and other types of cover if they are unaware of them. Most lipless crankbaits feature one or two treble hooks attacked close together on the belly and tail of the minnow body. 

It’s virtually inevitable that you’ll get snagged sooner or later with this setup, but there’s no question that fishing it close to cover and submerged structure is an excellent way to draw bass out from the shadows and up for a closer look. 

Best Line To Use With A Lipless Crankbait

Most experienced anglers who have a high degree of success with a lipless crankbait will attest to the fact that monofilament fishing line is best for this style of lure. The single strand of line allows the bait to stretch it and continue running through the water unimpeded. Monofilament will also help to give the lipless crankbait it’s signature “wobble” which is famous for being responsible for attracting and enticing hungry bass to bite. 

This action will also help to produce the telltale “rattle” that this lure is also known for producing. The wobble and rattle features are both part of the main reasons why fish find this lure so uniquely attractive. 

Searching With A Lipless Crank

Most anglers that fish on a professional level have a select few lures which they will throw in an effort to “search” through vast swaths of water and find fish that are biting. It’s not conducive to drive one’s boat over every inch of a lake, so professional anglers will often reach an ideal spot and use something like a lipless crankbait to “search” the water for bass. 

The reason why lipless crankbaits are so well-equipped to do this is their ability to be thrown long distances with most rod and reels, as well as their ability to be quickly retrieved and cast once more. Anglers can quickly locate schools of bass with this method whereas other anglers might spend too much time probing an area with the wrong type of bait. 


There are a huge variety of lipless crankbaits that are continually growing and adapting as brands find new ways to make them more effective. 

This lure item is one that might not look or seem appealing to novice anglers due to its relatively simple design and small profile, but professional anglers the world over will assure you that a lipless crankbait is high on their list of the most useful lures an angler can have in his or her arsenal. 


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