3 Ways for Cold-Water Lipless
The lipless crankbait is one of the most popular lures in all of bass fishing, and they work all year long. During cold water periods, they often outperform many other hardbaits thanks to the sound, vibration, and flash they produce. There are plenty of ways to fish them, but we asked three ima pro anglers to share their favorite cold-water lipless crankbait approaches and the result was three different ways to look at these proven lures.
Mueller’s Ice Cold Rock-N-Vibe
It is hard to find colder water than the water temperatures while ice fishing, but the lipless crankbait still works here. Bassmaster Elite Series champion Paul Mueller spends much of the winter on the hard water and chases a wide-range of species through the ice. He says the ima Rock-n-Vibe is one of the best ways to catch big walleye and lake trout when the water is frozen.
When ice fishing, he will fish the 5/8 ounce Rock-n-Vibe for lake trout and most often selects the ½ ounce size for walleye. They have a different action depending on the weight, according to Mueller. “The ½ ounce has a tighter shimmy, and it seems to appeal to walleye and what makes them bite.”
“For lake trout, I am most often fishing very deep water, and the heavier weight allows it to get down faster. When I am doing this I am constantly moving the bait upwards and pulling in the slack because this triggers lake trout to get aggressive. They like something moving away from them,” he says.
When targeting walleye, he slows down and shakes the bait in place. “Walleye are nomadic and tend to roam. By shaking the bait I use the Rock-n-Vibe as a bait to draw them in, almost like a glide bait for bass in open water,” he adds. “Sometimes you don’t even catch them on the Rock-n-Vibe, but bringing them closer to you is all it takes to get them to bite other lures.”
Right before the ice freezes, he also slays stripers and bass with a unique way to fish a lipless. Mueller says he fishes the Rock-N-Vibe by vertically jigging it in a way that is similar to how you use a blade bait. Rip it up, feel the vibration, and let it fall back down. “It is deadly on winter stripers and both largemouth and smallmouth,” he says.
Fred’s Lipless Like a Jerkbait
When ima released the Suspending Vibration 70, Fred Roumbanis immediately saw an opening for using the bait. Since it suspends just 3-4 feet below the surface, it is similar to a jerkbait, and this is how Roumbanis thinks of it when he is using it.
“It is awesome in cold water,” Roumbanis begins. “You can sweep your rod and kill it, and then pull in the slack just like you do with a jerkbait. I find myself pulling the rod more to get it to move instead of jerking”
If he fishes it like a jerkbait, why not just use a jerkbait? Fred had an answer to that question and said there are a few reasons why he chooses one over the other.
“The lipless crankbait has always been a great cold-water, winter, and pre-spawn bait but you could never slow it down if you wanted to. You have to keep it moving at all times with a standard lipless, and that is what makes the Suspending Vibration different,” he said. “The other thing that makes them so great is the noise and rattles, and that is something you don’t get from a jerkbait. Plus, the profile is so much more compact.” Roumbanis still uses jerkbaits often, but switching to a suspending lipless gives him more options this time of year.
Lowen’s Straightforward Lipless Fishing
Bill Lowen keeps it simple with most of his approaches; it is a big part of his fishing style and that includes lipless crankbaits. For him, it is either a standard retrieve or a “yo-yo” technique when the water is cold.
“I am always going to start with a ‘chunk and wind’ because that is always a good way to use a lipless and it is also the easiest way to cover water. If that isn’t working, I will ‘yo-yo’ the bait up and down,” he adds. “I don’t move it up and down very aggressively, and it is really more of a flutter. I’ll lift the rod to feel it vibrate six or seven times and let it back down because I want to keep that bait in the strike zone longer when the water is cold.”
He uses this approach no matter what type of water he is fishing, whether it is a grass-dominated lake or a rocky reservoir and has found that one thing holds everywhere he goes. “One of those retrieves is going to be the deal. You just have to experiment and see what the fish want that day,” adds Lowen.
For early season lipless fishing, he is going to be using the ima Rock-n-Vibe, and he said the majority of the time it will be in a crawfish pattern. “I’d say 90% of the time it is the Red Craw color. If it is a shad focused bite and I know that is what they are eating I’ll switch to chrome or something imitating a shad,” he says.
After talking with three professional anglers on the subject, it appears that there is no wrong way to fish a lipless when the water is cold. By tapping into the versatility of these lures, you can use them all season long and in a wide variety of situations.