A lipless crankbait is one of the more versatile baits in all of bass fishing. Whether you’re fishing from the shore, a kayak or a big boat, a lipless gives you a bait that can be casted far and fished throughout a wide portion of the water column.
The vast spectrum of colors, brands and sizes available just adds to the versatility of this lure genre. Taking all of this into consideration, we thought it would be a great idea to tell you about three good ways to fish a lipless in the fall.
High and shallow -
On many bass fisheries in the fall, the baitfish push shallow— and the bass follow. A lipless crankbait is the perfect offering in these situations. As shad and other forage cross shallow points and spread out across vast flats, they setup well to be targeted with a 1/2- ounce or even a 1/4- ounce lipless. These baits can be fished in just inches of water where many other baits can’t go.
Fishing these shallow areas requires a steady retrieve to keep the bait off the bottom. It also helps to hold your rod tip high anytime you’re in less than 2 feet. If you do feel your bait tick the bottom or pickup a little debris, give the rod tip a quick twitch and it will usually free itself from the bottom or the trash. These little burst of movement can also be incorporated into the retrieve intermittently, creating enough of a break in the cadence of the bait to trigger a strike from a pursuing bass.
Low and slow -
Moving out a little deeper, lipless crankbaits also work well a little further beneath the surface. Slow rolling a lipless on a steady retrieve in 4- to 10- feet of water is another great way to get bit when targeting bass that are transitioning from the deeper water to the shallows.
For this, you’ll typically want to shy away from the 1/4- ounce baits and use lures in the 1/2- to 3/4- ounce range instead, since they’ll be easier to fish deeper. And don’t be afraid of mixing up the color selection here, opting for reds and browns at times since crawfish are another fall favorite when it comes to bass forage.
Yo-yoing a lipless crankbait is another great way to get bit in the fall and into the winter. You can do this anywhere from 4 feet to about 15 feet pretty effectively. First, make your cast and let your bait fall down near the bottom, then begin your retrieve with your rod tip down.
With a quick upward motion of your rod, rip the bait up through the water column. Then drop your rod tip and allow the bait to fall on slack line while taking up the slack with your reel. Once you regain contact with your bait, rip it up again and allow it to fall again. Continue this process, allowing the bait to fall about 2 to 4 seconds each time.
Yo-yoing a lipless like this is a great way to mimic an injured baitfish and it allows you to fish a wider stretch of the water column with each cast. This technique can also be used to target suspended fish over even deeper water, as long as those fish are suspended within 20 feet of the surface. And although a 3/4- ounce bait would fall faster, a 1/2- ounce bait is usually the best bet for this style of fishing.
Baitcasting gear is the better choice here compared to spinning gear. Pairing a 7.1:1 gear ratio reel (or something close to that) with a medium or medium heavy rod in the 7-foot range works well for most of these applications. When fishing super shallow or with larger baits, it can be good to upsize your rod length a little to something in the 7-3 range. For the shallow presentations, the longer rod will help you keep your bait off the bottom better. And the longer rod is also more capable for casting and ripping larger baits.
In almost all situations in the fall, 15- pound fluorocarbon is a great line choice. However, if you’re fishing a lipless through and around heavy vegetation, braided line is better because it allows you to rip the bait free of the vegetation with less effort. But this is typically more of an early spring technique. In the fall, you’ll usually be fishing around more open areas or isolated cover, and quite often in clear to moderately stained water. So the fluoro is the better choice for multiple reasons.
A lipless is again one of the most versatile baits you can fish no matter the time of year. But through the fall and into the winter in particular lipless crankbaits can be especially big producers. You can fish them with a steady retrieve shallow across points and flats, and deeper in ditches and on the edges of points. And there’s always the yo-yo technique, which works throughout the water column and even out over deeper water. Try one or multiples of these three techniques the next time you hit the water and you’ll be sure to catch fish.
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