Welcome! Thank you for visiting. There’s something for every reader, from newbie to expert, to learn here about Ima crankbaits. It’s quick, clear to understand and we hope it helps guide you to pick the perfect Ima crankbait for your next fishing trip!
We’re pleased that Ima bass fishing crankbaits have caught on (pun intended) and proven very good to anglers with large amounts of bass caught and plenty of rod-bending excitement across the globe wherever bass are found, Ima Lures will work swell there.
Here’s a quick user guide to Ima’s most spectacular, starting with two very productive Ima crankbaits being the Shaker and Beast Hunter.
The Shaker excels in shallow, clear water as a cover contact crankbait on a slow to medium retrieve. The Shaker’s not something to go to first in dirty water or for a fast burning retrieve, but in clear or lightly stained water, fish come out of every nook, cranny and hiding spot to grab it after the Shaker bounces off anything in shallow water! It’s addictive when you can feel the Shaker bump off cover and see bass materialize out from underneath to snatch it. That never gets old.
Another fave, the Beast Hunter is a deep cover contact crankbait that excels in the big bass attack zone of 8 to 12 feet deep. It does not matter what water color with it. The diving lip is heavy duty so you can crank as fast as you want, really grinding it if that’s what you want to do. It truly lives up to its name because anglers have caught bigger bass on average with the Beast Hunter than many other lures or crankbaits.
How to use it is simple – crank it down to that 8-12 foot depth and run it into anything in between you and the Beast Hunter. The more you bang off anything, the more and bigger bass you will catch!
The Pin Jack is arguably the most popular Ima crankbait of all. Why? The Pin Jack catches large quantities of bass of all sizes at that easy-fishing 4 to 6 foot depth. Again, contact is king – rocks, boulders, logs, brush, docks, bridges, you name it.
As with the Beast Hunter, the Pin Jack diving lip is heavy duty…ideal for burning and banging anything – and that feature causes the wide wobble and vibration that lets the Pin Jack and Beast Hunter attract bass in any water clarity from clear to stained to muddy.
The Ima Square Bill is what we call our best “in between” or search bait because you can use the Square Bill in between spots to cover a lot of open water just junk fishing bare or featureless banks with an isolated bush, rock or dark spot as you use the trolling motor to move from one spot to the next nearby spot.
The Square Bill (as was pointed out with the Pin Jack) is one of those “numbers” baits that catch many bass of all sizes – and that makes it the ideal search bait for “in between” or just trying to flush out where schools of bass may be located on a long expanse of shoreline.
The Square Bill only dives a few feet deep, so it is not going to hang you up on bottom and it comes through isolated cover well without snagging, so you can keep the trolling motor torqued up and not have to stop to unsnag the lure.
This vigorous lure’s action and vibration is “loud” as it calls bass over to investigate in any water clarity. Even in clear, cover-void expanses of open banks between spots, the calling power and “distance” serves to conceal or provide cover for the Square Bill as well as the bass use distance instead of cover as an ambush advantage in clear water. Remember, the first bass to rush over wins the prize – and distance can be effective cover for bass to use to ambush bait in clear water. The Square Bill calls them out of that “cover.”
Suspending Vibe – New for 2017
Many anglers have not yet had a chance to discover their most productive and exciting tactics to use with the brand new Suspending Vibe – but get one in your hands, and let the fun begin!
One technique you certainly will want to explore is the deadly “double pump.”
Start by first raising or lifting the rod tip from approximately 9-10 to 11-12 o’clock. That is the first pump.
At the very “top” of the pump, execute a second shorter, sharper flick (the “double pump”) to make the Suspending Vibe “blow out “ or flare its sides when it’s at the top of the first pump (11-12 o’clock) – followed by a split-second pause before you lower the rod tip.
Use the reel only to recover slack line while lowering the rod on the downstroke. Most strikes came with the rod held high, the instant after the second short pump and pause.
Another time you’ll want to try the Suspending Vibe is whenever bass are breaking the surface or schooling on top. You can cover a lot of water quickly with the Suspending Vibe at those times, often waiting to cast to individual breaks as quickly as you can. This is a great time to try Ima’s wide range of topwater lures as well, but when the action subsides, you may find you actually caught more bass some days by spot-casting and speed-reeling the Suspending Vibe through surfacing fish!
For anglers walking the bank, the Suspending Vibe also offers a unique advantage when fishing from shore. It suspends only a few feet deep and doesn’t sink like a rock like other lipless crankbaits – so you won’t snag the Suspending Vibe as often as other lipless lures.
Rock ‘N Vibe
The advantage to exploit with the Rock ‘N Vibe is it sinks and can be counted down deeper than other Ima floating/diving or suspending crankbaits. The Ima Suspending Vibe and Square Bill run only a few feet deep. The Shaker dives just a little deeper. The Pin Jack descends 4 to 6 feet deep. The Beast Hunter hunts in the big bass attack zone 8 to 12 feet deep. Actual depth depends on the line type, line diameter, distance cast, rod tip position, retrieve speed and hook weight (in the case of the Suspending Vibe).
The Rock ‘N Vibe can be counted down to 10, 15, even 20 feet deep if you are patient. Bass almost never see lipless crankbaits down that deep, and the Rock ‘N Vibe has an advantage over other lipless lures in that the Rock ‘N Vibe sinks in a more orderly, tangle-free manner than other lipless crankbaits.
Once the Rock ‘N Vibe has been counted down to the target depth, use a lift-and-fall or even a vertical jigging presentation to catch deep-dwelling bass on the Rock ‘N Vibe.
We hope this quick user guide has helped you to understand and to know the perfect Ima crankbait to pick for your next fishing trip. Some of the best days will be when all these Ima lures come into play for you at different moments, spots, various depths and situations you encounter throughout the day. Soon, you will become an Ima crankbait maestro using all Ima crankbaits in concert to your best advantage to maximize your fish catching success. Thank you again for visiting and good luck fishing with your wide-ranging Ima Lures crankbait family.
When the bite is on, knowing when to use each type of lure can increase your success throughout the year. Jerkbaits, flat-sided and square bill crankbaits all have their time and place and each can outperform the others at times. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen has a method for choosing each and it depends on water clarity, time of year and what cover he is fishing.
The first factor to consider is the water clarity according to Lowen. With jerkbaits being a highly visual technique, clear water is his preferred choice. “Jerkbaits work great in clear water and a bait like a crankbait will do better when the water is dirty. That’s not to say each wouldn’t work in both situations, but I prefer crankbaits when the water is off-color,” he says.
Time of Year
The water temperature and time of year are another deciding factors for when Lowen chooses one reaction bait over another. “Early in a year, I like a bait with a tighter wiggle because the water is colder. The Ima Shaker or a flat-sided balsa bait from PH Customs is my go to,” he says and adds he switches gears as the water warms. “Once the water is a little warmer I like a more round bait like the Ima Square Bill because it has a more aggressive action.”
Square bill crankbaits, with their wide, aggressive action are ideal for water temperature in the 50’s and above according to Lowen. “They have that active grinding and scooting action that is great when the fish are more active,” he says.
Jerkbaits shine early in the year when the water is cold. Lowen reaches for a Flit 120 early in the year and says that the time of year is often cold and windy and a jerkbait is easy to fish in those conditions. “The low 40’s up to the low 50’s water temperature are perfect for a jerkbait. I like the Flit first thing in the spring and then again in the fall. It has a wide slashing and darting action and also works great later in the year and when fishing for smallmouth,” he says. He says a jerkbait is a perfect pre-spawn pattern and he will fish them right up until the bass are in full on spawn-mode.
Location and Approach
In addition to water clarity and temperature, the type of water Lowen is faced with plays a role in deciding which bait to use. “Jerkbaits work great on mainlake and secondary points, those 45-degree banks and places where the rock or bluff transitions,” says Lowen who feels that boat positioning is crucial. “I like to stay two cast lengths away from the bank. If you are one cast length away you might be right above where the fish are, especially if they are suspended or sitting on the first break.”
Both flat-sided and square bill crankbaits shine in shallow water when there is cover present. He will typically fish both in the same areas but will move shallower with a square bill. “Early in the year I like to fish the flat-sided bait around the last deep water inside of a pocket or around a channel swing,” he says and like jerkbaits he feels like boat positioning can help land more bass. “The ideal thing is to fish parallel to the bank so you can keep the bait in the strike zone longer.”
As mentioned earlier, he fishes the square bill in the same fashion but will move shallower and key on the first flat after a channel swing or first flat with deep water nearby.
Jerk and Crank Gear
When fishing the crankbaits, Lowen likes a CastAway Skeleton V2 crank rod that is 7’ and has a parabolic bend. “I also use a slower retrieve reel a 5.1:1 Lews BB1Z so I don’t overwork the bait and will spool it with 12-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon,” he says.
His jerkbait rod is different than many prefer. “The rod I use is actually a spinnerbait model, a 6’10” CastAway Skeleton V2. It has a softer tip but has a good backbone and I feel like I lose less fish,” he adds. He likes a Lew’s Team Pro Magnesium Speed Spool in the 6.8:1 ratio and 8 or 10-pound fluorocarbon. “The faster retrieve allows you to work the bait with the rod and reel up the slack quickly,” says Lowen.
Another way to increase your success with jerkbaits and crankbaits is to select the right retrieve for the conditions. Lowen also varies his approach based on the bait and where he is fishing.
“The flat-sided crankbait excels once you hit the bottom and are grinding it along. I also do what I call ‘floating’ it through rocks where I reel it as slow as I can to keep it in contact with the bottom,” he says and adds that the properties of the bait work for this technique. “The Ima Shaker doesn’t have near the buoyancy as a square bill so you can keep it closer to the bottom.”
Lowen says Jerkbaits are best with a “twitch, twitch, pause” retrieve and the only change he makes is how long he pauses the bait. “Sometimes you have to wait for 10 or even 30-seconds before you twitch it again. It is hard to do, but sometimes that is the only way to get bit,” he says and feels that water temperature is the biggest factor here. As a general rule of thumb, the colder the water, the longer the pause. To help the bait suspend, he will also add Storm SuspendDots and Strips. “I like to add two on the front bill and two before the back hook to keep it suspending for those long periods.”
When it comes to a square bill, Lowen says making contact with cover is the key. Anything in the water is fair game and the deflection properties of the Ima Square Bill make it ideal for banging into cover.
With so many great jerkbait colors available, it can become complicated deciding which to use. For Lowen, it simply comes down to water clarity, “I like the clear translucent colors in clear water and if the water has a little color I switch to solid colors or something with chrome or gold flash.”
Lowen also has a range of colors that he goes through as the season progresses. This has to do with both the water clarity he is faced with as well as the forage the bass are keying on. “I always start off early in the year with an orange or red pattern and then progress to the brighter chartreuse patterns. After that I move to the fluorescent craw patterns and then finally move to the shad patterns,” shares Lowen. This applies to both his flat-sided baits as well as his square bills.
Bill Lowen is a wealth of fishing knowledge and when it comes to shallow crankbaits and jerkbaits, he has seen it all. His approach to deciding which to use and when comes from years of experience as a professional angler and his approach is something that will help you land more bass.
Seven years seems a short time relative to other iconic bass fishing jerkbaits that have been on the market for several decades or longer.
Seven years ago was when Ima Lures in Japan, their North American distributor, Optimum Baits, and professional tournament angler, fishing guide and fisheries biologist Michael Murphy of Lexington, South Carolina teamed up to produce a breakthrough bass fishing jerkbait based largely on Murphy’s top tournament prowess, guiding experience, marine biology education and keen intellect. This wasn’t Murphy’s first success at designing bass lures – but the Flit is widely regarded as his best lure concept to date. He really nailed it.
In the short time it’s been around, the popularity and sales of the Ima Flit have rapidly risen toward the top tier of the worldwide jerkbait genre, thanks to enthusiastic angler demand and fish-catching satisfaction on every continent.
Please enjoy the one-on-one interview that follows. We trust that Michael will answer everything you want to know to successfully fish the Ima Flit 120 in 2017 and beyond. The more you know about the Flit, you’ll want to fish it more, and soon you’ll see it is indeed a new and future legend on the bass fishing jerkbait scene.
Question: To set the scene, what kind or rod, make or model do you fish with the Flit? What reel? What line?
Murphy: The rod I like to use is a 6’9″ stick. I stand 6’5″ tall, and with the elevation of the boat bow above the water, standing on the front deck, this rod is the perfect rod for me to be able to point my rod tip straight down without dragging in the water. I believe this is critical for ease of use, to hold the rod straight down without hitting the water, but this will be different for everyone. For a shorter person, it may be a 6′ rod. Overall, I like a medium/heavy action rod with some good backbone but still a good amount of tip for casting, working the lure and for playing a fish gingerly if it is barely hooked.
Question: How do you recommend attaching your line to the Flit? Why?
Murphy: Directly to the split ring. Some like to use a clip on their jerkbaits, hoping to get more action. This action is already naturally built into the Flit without having to do this. Adding a clip would most likely result in the front hook continuously catching the line. A clip is not needed. Simply tie direct to the split ring already provided on the lure. As far as knots, any type of good cinch knot goes well with fluorocarbon, except I do not like to use a Palomar with fluorocarbon since I believe it increases the chances of knot failure, and I do like to use fluorocarbon on my Flit.
Question: How deep does the Flit 120 dive? Are there any certain types of cover or structure or something else specific that’s an ideal situation for the Flit due to its working depth?
Murphy: Many jerkbaits are first designed on looks (eye appeal) and then the bill is constructed to achieve action and depth. Since the Flit is designed based on the idea of matching the hatch and to mimic the cadence of baitfish, specifically of the herring family (i.e., blueback herring, gizzard shad and threadfin), the action is already built into the Flit body. The bill is there to only achieve depth, not impart action. If you would like it to achieve its maximum depth, point your rod tip down toward the water to obtain 8 feet (FT120) of depth on 8 lb fluorocarbon or 6 feet of depth on 10 lb fluorocarbon. You may change the position of your rod tip to make it run shallower. With your rod tip pointing directly up at an eleven o’clock position, you can make it walk just beneath the surface in spots where that may be necessary. The Flit can be very effectively managed with the rod position, whether used shallow under shady docks or to fish deep on bluff walls.
Question: Is there anything you can do in terms of rod, line or retrieve or any other bait adjustment that lets you reach different depths? Is there anything that can make the difference of getting the Flit a couple of feet deeper or shallower?
Murphy: As mentioned above, line diameter and also line type do make a difference. The general idea using the ima Flit jerkbait is the smaller the line diameter the deeper the bait will go, simply due to less line drag. However, with the Flit, the exception to this would be at rest. Mono floats and fluoro sinks. You could use this to your advantage to behave differently or run at different depths dependent on specific situations. Again, this will vary among line brands and types. No two lines are exactly the same.
Question: Do you stick with the stock hooks or do you ever switch to different hooks and why?
Murphy: I have found you can upsize the front two hooks and turn it into a slow sinking jerkbait with its head pointed downward to help get it to deeper depths.
Upsizing the two front hooks also gives you more command on big bass fisheries where above-average size bass are commonly caught or on days when fish are very active and striking with abandon, upsizing the two front hooks gives you a hand.
Question: Sometimes a lure gets categorized as a smallmouth killer or a spotted bass killer or a largemouth magnet. Do you think the Flit has a special or higher appeal to smallmouth, spotted bass or largemouth? Why or why not?
Murphy: I couldn’t tell you. The Flit catches all three bass species equally and all very effectively. I think you can’t tag this type of reputation on the Flit, since all three species feed on members of the herring family, which makes them all equally vulnerable. I can tell you, with all three bass species there are no differences. They all eat it most excellently. If anything I would call it the “anything that swims and feeds on baitfish magnet” because it is not just with bass, but it could be redfish, pike, perch, gar, you name it. I have caught practically everything on the Flit so far.
Question: What are some things you may have learned about the Flit 120 over the years you’ve been fishing this bait that you didn’t expect when you originally designed the bait?
Murphy: That it can be EXTREMELY effective just reeling it steadily like a crankbait or trolled. We did not originally envision using it those ways, but in retrospect it makes perfect sense because we did design the hydrodynamic shape and therefore the swimming action to perfectly mimic the forage species (members of the herring family). A big factor in the original design was that when reeled, it tracks just like a shad or herring. Very lifelike. By mimicking that natural swimming action makes it extremely effective when reeling it steadily. Matter of fact, when we realized that, it triggered the development of the Floating Flit 120 a few years after the original suspending design. Many have found the best success by slowly reeling or waking the floating version across the surface.
Question: What is your lure color selection strategy with the Flit 120, Michael? What reasoning process do you use to select one color to tie on your line versus another?
If it is cloudy, select a matte or white-sided finish. If it’s a brighter, sunny day, select a foil finish. The exception is if it is extremely clear water, under any conditions, the clearer colors (Wakasagi, Table Rock Shad, Ghost Minnow, Ghost Chart Herring) can be most effective. Where are you in the USA? What is the local forage? Is it herring, shad, perch or panfish? These are questions I ask myself when considering matching the hatch. Are you expecting to catch predominately smallmouth, spotted bass, or largemouth? What is the water temperature? The colder the water or the farther north in latitude, I tend to gravitate to colors with some chartreuse or translucent. When I consider these elements, one or two colors will typically jump out to me. At that time, I will try the ones I think best suit the circumstances and from there, I let the fish tell me what they prefer.
Of the exciting new colors for 2017, two (Brown Flash and Gold Flash) are due to popular demand, and are especially effective on top smallmouth fisheries across the USA and Canada. The two new colors Green Perch and Sexy Pearl Shad, are also where we listened to our loyal customers and their desire to see a foil version of our Matte Bluegill, and the Sexy Pearl Shad is a matte version of our American Shad. Matte Bluegill and American Shad are two fantastically effective colors, and our customers wanted to have foil and matte versions of both because foils are most effective in brighter conditions and matte finishes are best in lowlight and cloudy conditions. These new colors are proof that Ima and specifically Ima’s North American distributor, Optimum Baits, listen to their customers.
Question: Some anglers mention having a good jerkbait bite first thing in the morning, and then have it fade out and die on them by mid-morning. Is that something you’ve seen about the Flit bite? Is the Flit bite similar to what some have experienced with an early morning topwater bite, which it’s usually good at first light, and shuts down once the sun hits the water? Or is there anything you can do or any conditions or factors that make for a good Flit bite all day (or as long as those factors remain present)?
Murphy: No. It is not like that. As the sun comes up, I start to chase shadow lines. It may be the shadow line off of a bridge, dock, trees, bluffs, etc. Seems like bass will just pull tight to these shaded areas. It is not just with jerkbaits, I would say this applies with all lures under these early morning conditions and it is merely the natural behavior of how bass act. I say this, because I would never say a topwater bite will completely shut down. Instead, it will just change. I have had some of my best topwater days on Lake Lanier over 30 feet of water on clear bluebird days catching both spotted bass and largemouth. I think the shutting down of any bite or that sudden “lock jaw” is nothing more than a myth. Strike zones and the willingness to commit may become smaller, or how fish may hold to structure may change under changing conditions. However, at the end of the day, it is all basic behavior and simply what makes the best sense for how a bass can ambush its prey. Bass are always eating; it is just a matter of how or where. I have never seen a tournament where someone did not catch something. So I am not a big believer in a bite shutting down because the fish were not eating. The bite just changes or shifts. As anglers, we may lose the bite, but it’s still going on somewhere.
Question: What would you say is the biggest error you see anglers make with jerkbaits?
Murphy: Certainly it’s stereotyping the technique. The belief that it is only good for spring and for post frontal situations. They (jerkbaits) are good all the time.
Question: Overall, what action are you trying to create with a jerkbait and with the Flit specifically? What impression are you trying to make on the bass with the Flit? Is it supposed to be an injured or disoriented baitfish – or a perfectly normal baitfish movement?
Murphy: Both. You can make it look disoriented or like a normal baitfish. Whatever condition or mood the bass may be in, you can match it. The Flit can be fished with random jerk and pause techniques, or with a consistent walking side to side motion. It is based on the concept like a Zoom Fluke or other soft jerkbait, or a topwater like a Super Spook. Both the Fluke and Spook have very effective actions. Now imagine being able to do that on a bigger scale, better and where you are more easily able to catch the fish that are just slapping at it and not really willing to commit. You’ll hook a good percentage of these non-committal fish with a jerkbait.
Question: With the jerk component of the action you create, do you vary the jerk for different seasons or different reasons?
Murphy: Yes, the colder or less active the fish are, the tighter the walk or the shorter the jerks I will use with a longer pause. The warmer or more active the fish are, the harder I will lay into the jerks and the more frequent and consistent I will work the lure with fewer pauses.
Question: With the pause component of the action you create, do you vary the pause for different seasons or different reasons?
Murphy: Yes, as mentioned above.
Question: Which is the most important part, the jerk or the pause?
Murphy: It depends on the time of the year. Both are equally important. This goes back to the previous two questions.
Question: What other elements are there to the action? Is the reeling an important element? How fast or how far you reel, do you vary that? Any other elements to the action except the jerk, the pause, the reeling?
Murphy: I typically reel a quarter to a half a turn per jerk. With this type of technique, the reel is nothing more than a tool to hold the line, and a good drag and high speed retrieve when fighting a fish.
The most important elements to working a jerkbait are the rod action and how you work the rod. In addition, your attention to details of what happens to the jerkbait on different jerks and rod angles, and tying all this together to discover what is most persuasive action to the bass on any given day.
Question: Do you look to develop a cadence or rod action that’s repeatable for the day? That is, once you catch a few on a certain sequence of jerks and pauses, do you find all your fish going for that same sequence of jerking-pausing? Or do you catch fish on a diversity of cadences during the same day?
Murphy: Absolutely a cadence or rod action pattern materializes many days. This goes right along with my previous answer and the paying attention to details that spell what is the fish’s preference for the day or for the situation at hand.
Question: At what point do most strikes occur? What induces the strike – the jerk, the pause, the reeling in or what?
Murphy: The pause, over 90% of the time.
Question: How would you say that jerking, pausing and reeling in a jerkbait differs from popping, pausing and reeling in a topwater popper? Is it essentially the same action for a popper and a jerkbait? If not, what are the differences between working a topwater popper and working a jerkbait (except of course you can see the popper)?
Murphy: Yes, they’re both pretty much the same. Especially in the aspect that there are about as many different and effective ways to work a popper as there are to work a jerkbait.
Question: What if you suddenly see a bass following the Flit as it gets near the boat (or shore)? What do you do to convert those followers into biters? How do you get them to commit and whack it? Or if they break off the chase and drift away, how do you get them to come back and strike on the next cast?
Murphy: There is a technique that I discovered with the Flit, and it is the only jerkbait I have found you can do it with, because it has such tight walking action. With the right among of slack before the jerk and immediately after allowing the bait to glide, you can make the Flit literally do a 180-degree about-face. If the fish is trailing close enough and not willing to commit, you can make it bite out of mere reaction with this 180-degree turn-around maneuver. Bass don’t have hands to swat, they use their mouth, and this results in a catch. This does take practice, but it is one of the absolute coolest things you will ever experience. I did it on Lake Murray with a 5 lb 8 oz bass, it was unbelievable!! I have done it with many other fish, but the 5 lb 8 ouncer was the coolest because it followed the Flit the first cast and peeled off, and then I was able to get it to track it again and I did this 180 on it. It was so funny because it was apparent it hit out of sheer reaction to the 180 turn-around. This bass didn’t even know what to expect or what happened. It just bit, but it didn’t even fight. That was the downside. It was pretty lethargic. At the same time, it was pretty funny.
Question: How come so many jerkbait bass are partially hooked on the outside of the mouth? Some have suggested that the bass is slapping the lure’s tail or pushing against the lure’s tail so it can turn the long jerkbait 180 degrees and swallow it head-first. What do you think of that?
Murphy: I used to have fish (two spotted bass, a largemouth and two crappie) in an aquarium. I would feed them goldfish. If they were hungry and/or competitive, they would eat the goldfish any way they could get them down, sideways, tail first, head first, it didn’t matter. As the competition abated and/or they were getting full, they were more selective and would go for the goldfish head first. However, doing this is a little harder for them to do. So they would ambush them from the side, battering them, with scales falling off, until the prey moved slow enough and were an easy enough target for them to successfully eat head first. With jerkbaits, I believe that may be what they are doing at times, hitting the jerkbait first as to kill or stun it to make it easier to eat. In many cases they will go through this motion with their mouth closed or mostly closed as to not eat it, just incapacitate it first. With a jerkbait, the hooks may naturally end up on the outside of the mouth.
Another explanation is far simpler. A fish swims up to inspect the bait and simply noses it, much like it would nose a jig, worm, or crayfish on the bottom of the lake out of curiosity, but with a jerkbait, because of the sticky-sharp trebles and the jerking motion of how the lure is worked, the nosy fish may get stuck around its mouth or side of the fish’s head, resulting in a catch. Such fish certainly are not intentionally being snagged, but depending on the particular state regulations or tournament rules, this may or may not be deemed a keepable catch.
From Ima Lures, Optimum Baits and Michael Murphy, thank you for reading. We hope you have enjoyed this one-on-one interview. We hope it answered everything you needed to know to confidently fish the Ima Flit in 2017 and beyond. We trust that the more you fish the Flit, the more you’ll catch, and soon you’ll see it is indeed a new and future legend on the bass fishing jerkbait scene!
We proudly introduce you to a deadly lure concept that is missing from most anglers’ arsenals. Fred Roumbanis encouraged Matt Paino and Ima Lures to build it and now Fred tells you all you need to know to hit the water with it this spring.
“The Ima Suspending Vibration embodies a suspending lipless crankbait lure concept that I’ve wanted to produce with Matt Paino and Ima Lures for a long time,” says top bass tournament pro Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Arkansas. “It is not an entirely new idea because looking back over the years, a couple of other vendors have attempted it. However, it never really took off and in hindsight, it seems that other lure manufacturers never quite put the suspending lipless crankbait idea together in a way that worked well or caught on with bass anglers – until now.”
Early Season Tactics
“Early in the year as things start warming up and the fish start migrating shallow obviously because they want to spawn…well, you can kick off the season with a suspending jerkbait even while bass are still in late wintering mode with cold or even frigid water- and guys will continue to use the suspending jerkbait through prespawn, right up until the spawn.”
“Within this period, the lipless crankbait bite starts…it begins later than the jerkbait bite starts, and typically when you think of lipless crankbaits early in the season, you think of newly-growing shallow grass, ripping it through the grass.”
“Well, the Ima Suspending Vibration bridges the early season gap between the suspending jerkbait in open water and the typical sinking lipless in grass.”
“Being suspending, you can fish it just like a jerkbait, you can throw it out there, and zip it, kill it and let it sit there, watching your line until you see your line jump. The Suspending Vibration is similar in that way to a jerkbait and can be fished a lot like a jerkbait except of course it is a lipless crankbait.”
“What’s cool is that you can carry that same tactic over to bed fishing. You can throw it across spawning flats, zip it up to a suspected bass bed, and kill it – and let it stay suspendedright there where potential nesting fish are, and they go crazy over that. It is absolutely deadly.”
The Open Water Advantage
“The big deal with your typical sinking lipless crankbait is that you crank it along until you crash it into the grass and that makes the fish chase it into the grass. Then when you try to rip it out, it’s that getting away fleeing action that makes the bass commit to it. It’s a very instinctive deal.”
“Now, Ima has created a lipless crank that can trigger that same reaction in open water. The Suspending Vibration hits those same instincts and bass are going to bite it without having to rip it through grass.”
“Now you can get the same kind of instinctive strike reaction out of fish even when you’re going down a flat bank, a 45-degree sloping bank, a riprap bank, around bridges or whatever. As you’re reeling it and you kill it, it stands still, provokes their attention, they focus on it and then when it takes off again is when they grab it – and you can mimic that on every single cast anywhere whether you’re in grass or not – and that’s what’s the big deal about the Suspending Vibration.”
“It takes the concept of ripping a lipless crankbait through the grass and extends that concept out into open water. Usually when you kill a typical sinking lipless, it sinks to the bottom in open water – the grass is not there to catch it and stop it. The thing with the Suspending Vibration is it just stops dead in its tracks; it stops and holds without needing grass to stop its fall. It’s a much more natural action in that a baitfish typically flees in a startled burst and then it just stops and suspends motionless because it has nowhere to go sometimes – and by not moving, that is a way to be overlooked or not attacked if it doesn’t move – kind of the same as a person having no other chance or choice than to risk ‘playing dead’ if being pursued by an aggressive bear. So by freezing motionless, that’s a very natural baitfish action, and then when it panics and tries to bolt, it gets attacked.”
“Anytime you deflect any kind of crankbait, we all know that’s what triggers bass to bite, and now you’re able to create a deflection without ever having to crash into anything; that’s the key to this bait, not to mention you can let it sit there and suspend for long periods of time if fish are inactive, they may let a moving crankbait go by, safely passing through their attack range without bothering to do anything – but when it suspends and stays in their space, the longer it sits there, they’re going to do a slow burn and eventually lash out to eliminate it.”
“Whether it’s the lingering pause that triggers inactive bass buried in cover or whether it’s the sudden escape panic that triggers an aggressive open water attack – the Ima Suspending Vibration does it all.”
Fish Allure Scent Tabs
“Fish Allure is the coolest thing – little scent tabs or strips that are water-activated,” exclaims Roumbanis. “Never before has it been so easy and mess-free to apply scent to hard baits. They’re like little decals that I stick on the sides of the Ima Suspending Vibration so that when you let the bait suspend, it is releasing scent. The Suspending Vibration is perfect for this because the sides are broad, flat and it’s the perfect shape. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ve got to check Fish Allure out. It’s a pretty cool deal and it really adds scent appeal. It’s not only the lure action, the color and everything else that gets their attention but they can get a whiff of the Fish Allure tab to convince them to strike even while you let the Suspending Vibration sit there.”
Rod and Reel
Fred prefers his signature series iRod IRG763CC-MH Crank Launch Jr which is a 7’6” crankbait rod that has the perfect tip and backbone for the Suspending Vibration.
He doesn’t like too fast of a reel for a lipless crankbait. Fred finds an Ardent Apex Grand 6.5:1 aluminum frame baitcasting reel to possess the perfect cranking speed, lightweight and high strength required here.
“Any time you use a line that’s not denser than water – your monofilaments, copolymers and lines that float – your bait is going to stay higher, not dive as deep and in the Suspending Vibration’s case, it will suspend more neutrally in the water,” explains Roumbanis emphasizing, “Sometimes that’s the key to a bait like this, especially in the early spring.”
“Ardent Gliss is a floating fishing line that helps keep the bait up high and suspend even better than any other line types. Gliss will keep the bait suspending superbly because Gliss floats. Its other huge advantage is it acts as a visible strike indicator. Because Gliss floats on top of the water, you can easily see the line jump when a bass hits the lure even while it’s suspending motionless.”
Super-slow sinking option
The 3/8oz Suspending Vibration suspends 3-4 feet deep with #6 standard wire hooks. Changing hooks and split rings will affect its suspending nature.
If you want to make a super-slow sinking bait out of it, you can change it from suspending to slow-sinking by switching the hooks out to heavier gauge wire hooks or by using thicker diameter fluorocarbon line to sink it down a little more.
However, for true suspending action, Fred sticks with the original size hooks, rings and 15 lb test mono as the best overall monofilament line size. If he wants to keep it up even high in open water, he may go to 20 lb mono or 40 lb Gliss.
If he’s fishing around grass, he’ll definitely go with 40 lb Gliss because this single strand filament shares a trait similar to traditional braided lines in that Gliss cuts right through grass easily.
Now you have learned a lure concept and technique that’s missing from most anglers’ arsenals. Best of all, many exciting new Suspending Vibration techniques remain to be discovered – by you! Get some now and have fun experimenting with new ways to catch bass on the Ima Suspending Vibration all season long. Don’t miss this!
With so many lifelike colors available to jerkbait users, deciding which one to use can seem overwhelming. For Bassmaster Elite Series pro Paul Mueller, it comes down to selecting a color based on the forage base and weather conditions. His approach comes from years of experience jerkbait fishing in a variety of situations across the country. As a general rule, his color selection is based on water clarity and light conditions.
Beyond Match the Hatch
When discussing color patterns, “match the hatch” is a standard answer. It may be the biggest cliché in the fishing world, yet it still holds true and remains important. Of course, matching your jerkbait color to the forage the bass are eating is a good practice, but taking it one step further and understanding the forage itself is an even better option.
When bass are primarily keyed on perch, several different colors will do according to Mueller. “Matte bluegill, Wakasagi and Table Rock Shad all imitate perch. The new colors – Gold Flash, Brown Flash and Green Perch do too,” says Mueller. Beyond just matching the color, Mueller looks for where perch will be at a given time of year. Early in the year, that means grass and wood. “Perch are the first fish to spawn in the spring and the bass know that and take advantage of it. They will spawn and lay their eggs on grass beds and if the lake doesn’t have grass they will be around laydowns and other wood,” he says.
Another time when both color and size matching comes into play is during a shad die off. “During the late winter on many lakes in the country, yearling shad begin to die. Matching the color is important because that is what the bass are eating that time of year,” says Mueller. Another piece of the puzzle is matching the correct size of the dying shad. “The smaller profile of a lure like the Foxy Fry is a perfect match.”
Bright Days and Clear Water
When faced with bright and sunny conditions, Mueller believes a translucent color is best. With the technique being highly visual, clear water is a prime time to throw a jerkbait like the ima Flit 120. “The Ghost Chartreuse Herring is a killer color for clear water and bright days. It has a little bit of chartreuse on the bottom and it really stands out and is especially good for smallmouth,” says the Connecticut pro.
Cloud cover is a welcomed site to anglers using a jerkbait. The conditions set up well for the technique and Mueller has a general rule of thumb when deciding which colors to use: solid colors or those with flash.
While some may abandon a jerkbait when the water is off-colored, Mueller feels he can still use a jerkbait if the bait has a tinge of white, like with the Sexy Pearl Shad. “That is a new color for ima and it is great if the water is a little dirty but not quite muddy. It does a great job imitating a shad and also works really well when it is overcast,” he says.
Like clouds, the wind is your friend when jerkbait fishing. While a variety of colors will work when the water is churned up, Mueller believes that a color with some reflective properties is best. “American Shad, Brown Flash and Gold Flash all put off a lot of a good amount of flash and help bass locate the bait much easier. American Shad is also a great choice for lakes that have threadfin shad, ” he says.
Bright, Sunny and Calm is Foxy Fry Time
While these weather conditions might make an angler put down a jerkbait, Mueller feels they can still produce with the right approach and lure selection. When faced with this situation, Mueller reaches for the Foxy Fry. “I think this is the most overlooked bait that ima makes. It is a finesse jerkbait and for some reason, it works when no other jerkbait will,” he begins.
The small offering is a jerkbait that will dive to five feet, but Mueller says with the right line, modifications and some patience it can get down to 8 to 10-feet. To reach these depths, he goes to the extreme of using 5-pound Gamma Touch fluorocarbon, adding a larger gauge hook and Storm SuspenDots.
The colors available in this lure are mostly translucent and he believes it has to do with the conditions that this bait shines. “Those natural colors and the fact that this bait is more of a finesse offering make it really effective when the fishing is tough and the fish are not biting any other jerkbaits,” he believes.
He will fish this jerkbait differently than the Flit 100 and Flit 120 and will rely on short pulls instead of a jerking motion. “It is a great clear water technique and I have had my best success with short snaps and pulls while keeping a little bit of slack in the line.”
The Right Retrieve
How you retrieve your jerkbait plays a role in the flash and attraction of the bait. Depending on what species he is fishing for and the water temperature, Mueller varies his retrieves on the Flit 100 and Flit 120.
“The Flit 120 is one of the best smallmouth jerkbaits because you can make it have a real erratic retrieve and this helps get more flash out of your bait.” I fish it with sharp jerks of the rod but always maintain slack. The temperature determines both how hard I will rip it and also how long I pause it,” he says.
When fishing for largemouth, Mueller likes to fish his jerkbaits with shorter snaps of the rod. “I fish a jerkbait with more patience with when targeting largemouth and will make sure it tracks straighter instead of the wider darting action I prefer for smallmouth,” he says.
When deciding colors and retrieves for your jerkbait many factors come into play. By adjusting based on the weather conditions, water clarity and species you are targeting you can have success with jerkbaits in just about any situation.
Mid- to late February in the South is when it all starts happening again
Bass pro Fred Roumbanis from Russellville, Arkansas usually gets the winter off. Fred’s tournament season starts anew in mid- to late February – an excellent time to throw the Ima Shaker flat-sided crankbait tight to the bank.
Bank Transitions to look for
The most excellent banks to look for so early in the spring are 45 degree banks, and look for some type of transitional rock – whether its pea gravel seguing to chunk rock (Fred’s favorite mix) or a transition from sand to rock. Sometimes you can spot these types of compositional changes on the bank above the waterline. They’re just simple changes in the terrain’s geographical features that extend under the water and can be fished close to the bank. Find those kinds of transitions on a 45 degree bank in the early spring, and you know you’re going to catch fish there.
Roumbanis treats boat docks, laydowns or anything else that otherwise interrupts and breaks up the uniform bank terrain as types of transitional zones that bass favor too.
Roumbanis mostly uses the Ima Shaker during the cold half of the year which is October through March. True, you can catch fish with it year round, but the two transitional times (from fall to winter and again from winter to spring) are the peak periods to throw this bait. You have at most a four to six week window of opportunity during each peak period when it’s a similar water temperature range (from about 55 down to 45 degrees) whether it’s transitioning from fall to winter or from winter to spring when this bait works best – and February in the South is one of the best months for the Shaker. In other parts of the country, fish it during the spring warming trend once winter ends. It’s a great bait from then on through the spawn.
It’s a 2 to 4 foot diver, but you can catch fish with it under deeper boat docks or along laydowns that stick out into deeper water.
A Fine Design
The design of the Shaker is similar to other flat-sided crankbaits that are handmade balsa lures which are all good baits with the problem being that the only way to be really able to fish those, you need to put them on a spinning rod with lighter line than usual. Even then, balsa baits are hard to cast. You lose a lot in terms of the distance you’re able to cast and the accuracy.
The Ima Shaker is injection-molded, hollow-chambered hard plastic. Versus other flat-sided crankbaits, the Shaker is incredibly easy to cast using medium heavy baitcasting gear. The Shaker has a weight transfer system inside. There’s a dense metal ball inside which transfers to the back of the bait when you cast it. It makes it easy to cast in the wind, and that’s hard to do with a lot of the other flat-sided cranks, especially the balsa ones.
Rod, Reel, Line
Fred usually fishes the Shaker on 10 to 12 lb. fluorocarbon. The ideal rod here is his signature iRod IRG763CC-MH “Fred’s Crank Launch Jr.” It’s a 7’6” 3-power medium heavy rod that Fred designed for mid-size crankbaits and it works great with the Ima Shaker. He favors the Ardent Apex Grand 6.5:1 reel model which is an extremelylightweight high strength aluminum frame reel model.
Speaking of reeling, you don’t want to just cast and reel in the Shaker on a straight retrieve. Speeding it up, hesitations and changeups will cause the Shaker to flare off to one side or the other. That’s what triggers fish to strike it. You want to make this bait flare off using some kind of deflection (cover contact) or change of pace when reeling.
A Lipped Lipless Crankbait
With many other crankbaits that have a wide-faced body, they have a real thumping action whereas the Shaker has a real tight, tight vibration, so it excels in colder water. It’s similar to a lipless crankbait in shape, profile and vibration except that you can reel the Shaker much slower and when you give it erratic action, it flares off and floats up because it’s a floating bait. So the Shaker’s different from a lipless crank in that sense (because lipless are sinking baits) but you’re still getting a similar tight vibration as a lipless crankbait albeit with a totally different and opposite action like a dying or struggling shad floating toward the surface. Because shad are not native to freshwater lakes, evolution hasn’t prepared these introduced baitfish to cope with sudden cold snaps that incapacitate or kill shad in cold months. The way you need to make the Ima Shaker flare off is a pretty good imitation of a shad suffering from “winter kill” and fluttering upwards. The tight vibration of the Shaker attracts bass and then the struggling antics, slow-floating hesitation and flare-outs you give it compel bass to strike.
When you reel a Shaker very slowly, it’s going to stay in that 2 to 4 foot strike zone. It’s going to flare off to the side every now and then when you pause or change up with any little shift or variation in reeling or rod position which adds an unpredictable, unpatterned extra action that really looks like a wounded or struggling baitfish. The difference is you can’t really slow-roll a lipless crankbait and keep it that high in the water column because lipless sink. The Shaker still has that similar action but because it floats, it is the total opposite or inverse of what a lipless does.
Snag Deflection The broad shape of the lip (almost twice as wide as the body) and the lip material (extremely thin, flexible circuit board) helps keep it out of snags. When you bump into cover, if you suddenly snap your line taut or sharply flick your rod tip, the Shaker tends to bounce back and gets a really good deflection, so it’s a real easy bait to release from cover, and the bill flexion helps a lot with that. It flexes just enough so your bait can spring back without snagging – and that also triggers a lot of bites, so it’s a neat deal.
Zappu Wicked Ball There are also other little secret things which Roumbanis likes to do. He’ll take the Zappu Wicked Ball which is a weighted ball (comes in several sizes) that you screw onto a treble hook of a crankbait.Depending on the weight size and placement, every so often it can cause a crankbait action to falter or kick or act odd – inciting strikes when it produces that odd action.
For the Shaker, Fred uses the smallest size. If you take that and you put it on the back hook of the bait, it will hunt without hitting anything at all. It will really get the Shaker to flare off to the sides – and that triggers a lot more bites. Then again, if you want to get the Shaker to suspend like a jerkbait, you screw the Wicked Ball on the front treble instead. So you can play around with the Wicked Ball although Roumbanis usually puts it on the back hook to make it hunt off to the side when the water temperature is more toward the 55 degree mark. When the water’s down closer to 45 degrees as in February, he puts it on the front hook to make it suspend more when paused.
This time of year, Fred also uses Gamakatsu short-shank EWGs in size #4 on the Shaker. Cold water bass often simply lip, nip or semi-slash at suspended hardbaits, and Gamakatsu EWGs help grab onto a few extra fish versus round bend trebles. For this to work though, they can’t be dulled; you have to replace them when they become dull after every few fish or trips, whichever comes first.
Crawfish patterns are really strong in early spring. So red Hot Crawfish is a must-have. Chartreuse Shad is also a favorite. Black Chartreuse is a third must-have. Between those three, you can cover many different situations. Roumbanis also counts the color Plemmons among his favorites. Matte Bluegill doubles as a green crawfish with orange belly color that’s very effective in early spring while the more natural-looking Alabama Shad finish matches cold-shocked shad.
Fred Roumbanis has a special place in his heart for the IMA Roumba, his namesake lure. While he’s found a number of scenarios to make it work straight out of the package – from clear water to stained water, from ultra-shallow to calling fish up from the depths — he also continues to tinker with it for specialized conditions.
“The new thing I’m doing is adding a prop from a prop bait to the back of it,” he said. “I’d fished a DEPS Buzzjet a lot and it produces a lot of sound, but sometimes they want something with the Roumba’s shape instead.”
The back of the lure is perfect for mounting the additional hardware. It is nearly flat, so after cannibalizing another bait, you can “take the prop, and the split ring and the hook and hand screw it in, then add a drop or two of glue.”
With the Roumba’s naturally wide side-to-side action, it has an action far different from the normal straight ripping action of torpedo or Devil’s Horse type lures. “It has more flare,” Roumbanis explained. “You get a lot of action with very little effort. You can zip it, and then kill it and it calls fish from a distance.”
He’s been hiding the modified lure in pictures on Bassmaster.com, trying not to let his competitors know about it. Now the secret is out. He’s used it extensively throughout Oklahoma, as his touring schedule has allowed, and found it to be deadly on largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass.
While it’ll be deadly in a wide range of water temperatures and seasons, there are a few instances when he thinks it far outshines other lures. The first is in the early spring, when the big girls are bedding. “It’ll pull those big females up,” he said. It’ll also be great in the fall, when fish are chasing bait on the surface. But perhaps the ideal situation will be during the shad spawn. “It’s loud and obnoxious and with the chrome of that prop, even though it’s a compact package it’ll still look like a lot of bait.” There are still times when the Roumba is better straight out of the package, but don’t hesitate to add a prop when you need a little more buzz.
The immediate post-spawn is one of Randy Pringle’s favorite times of year because it signals the beginning of prime topwater season. The key during this time period, he said, is to “be adjustable.”
Fortunately, IMA gives him three solid tools to work with – the Roumba, the Skimmer and the Big Stik, the latter of which is his personal favorite because he had a large role in its development. It’s big bait that produces some of the biggest bass he’s ever caught.
“It’s so erratic,” he said. “It has that far left to far right action and there’s a lot of water being pushed that bass feel the need to come and investigate. It pushes more water than the others, so on a very windy day the bass might not know that the other lures are there.”
That’s great if there’s wind or current breaking up the silhouette, but on calmer days, he’ll go with the less intrusive and smaller lures, especially if the bass indicate that they’re going to be less active.
“Right now,” he said, referring to the months of May and June, the fish are not chasing long distances. They may be protecting fry or they may just be tuckered out from the spawn, but it’s important to try to keep the bait in a confined area. Keep it in the strike zone as long as you can. With the Skimmer, for example, you want to stretch out the retrieve a bit – maybe one-two-sit or one-two-three-sit.”
One key to slowing down the retrieve is to increase the size of his monofilament line. “A lot of guys downsize, but this time of year I upsize,” Pringle said. “That works to keep the bait afloat.”
Bill Lowen may love his Square Bill crankbaits, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he treats them. He bounces them off rocks and logs and stumps. Then he grinds them into the bottom. Then he exercises a wicked hookset to secure them in the lips of big fish.
The crankbaits stand up to the abuse, but eventually the hooks start to show signs of fatigue.
At a recent Elite Series event on Bull Shoals in Arkansas, the constant wear had Lowen changing out trebles on a single bait up to four times in a day. There’s no science to when he changes them, but when he “notices them getting ratty,” it’s time to get some new ones.
“I’m not a big fan of running them on a hook sharpener,” he explained. That takes valuable time away from fishing so he’d rather just quickly thread a new treble on the split ring.
“If all you’re fishing is straight wood, you may not have to change them all day, but if you’re banging them through rocks that demands more attention.”
He’ll even change out the split rings on occasion if he notices that they’re damaged, although he said that absent oddball circumstances “you have to be an animal to damage them.”
The number six trebles that come standard on the Square Bill are razor sharp and plenty durable. Additionally, they’re perfectly calibrated to make the lure run and hunt in the best possible fashion. On occasion, though, if the bass are merely swiping at the lure and not getting stuck, Lowen will upsize his trebles to a size five or even a four.
“I like the smallest hook I can get away with,” he explained. “The smaller they are, the better I can bring them through cover.” Still, when hookup percentages need to be increased, he’ll often start with just an upsized treble on the belly before changing them both.
If your local lake looks like someone spilled a canister of black pepper on the surface, that signifies a prime time opportunity – the young of year bass fry are out and the bass guarding them can be easy pickings.
For Michael Murphy, this is a fun time to chase bass. He sometimes does it with a prototype floating Flit jerkbait, but most of the time his primary tool is an IMA Roumba, the finest wake bait on the market.
“You want to look for fry in calm water,” he said. “The fish corral them out of the current. If you see empty beds and know that only a week or two prior they were on them, they can’t be far off.”
Because flat water is so critical, he pursues this pattern in spawning coves protected from the elements. In particular, he likes pockets which twist around a corner or dogleg in the back. In other words, places completely protected from the wind. If you can see all the way to the back of it from the main lake, that’s less than perfect.
While he sometimes targets balls of fry he can see, he admitted that as a general matter “if you can see them, the fish guarding the fry knows you’re there, so it’s important to just go fishing. A lot of times you’ll blind cast and see fry jumping out of the path of your Roumba.”
He retrieves the Roumba as slowly as possible while still achieving its signature wide wobble. He likened it to “nails across a chalkboard” for protective bass, and favors patterns that imitate a bluegill or baby bass, anything to trigger the territorial instincts.
Typically, the strikes are vicious and the hookups are solid, but if he gets a short strike, he’ll fire back in with a dropshotted soft plastic or a Zappu Wacky Jig Head. If he didn’t snare ‘em the first time, this is almost a surefire way to put bass in the boat. He recognizes that just because some fish are guarding fry doesn’t mean that all of them have finished the spawning ritual, so even if he’s still looking for active beds, aggressive casts with the Roumba will often turn up late spawners, especially from deeper beds that most anglers miss.