he Rat-L-Trap is tailor made for Florida bass fishing Without question the lipless
crankbait is the best bait you can have in your box. Florida waters have the ideal
landscape for these baits. Wide open flats, lots of shallow water and an endless variety
of grasses. The lipless crankbait is the bread-n-butter bait that should be in every
anglers box. And don't think for a minute that these baits have any limits to the size
fish they catch...they don't.
The lipless crankbait cast like a bullet even in a stiff breeze. This makes them the
perfect choice for schooling bass. Cast beyond the school and reel it back with a fast
retrieve When your bait reaches the school, kill it. Let it drop, count to 3 and then, at
a medium speed, bring it through the school. Usually the strike comes when you stop and
let it fall in the middle of the school. This simulates an injured bat fish and they can't
- Sandy Flats
- Kissimmee Grass
- Bare Banks
All the structures listed are targets for using a Rat-L-Trap but since we’re talking mainly Florida waters we’ll concentrate on grass e.g. Hydrilla.
Hydrilla grows vertical until it reaches the surface. Because of the vertical profile of the hydrilla, a Rat-L-Trap will come through it easily. Ticking the tops of the grass and the loud rattling noise triggers the bass to strike. Once on the surface it lies over and mats up. The best time to fish hydrilla , with a lipless crankbait, is when it’s within 2 to 4 feet of the surface. Look for the dark holes, single strands or small clumps that rise above the surrounding deeper hydrilla. Bass like edges, cuts, shade, cover etc. and hydrilla offers all of this and more.
Hydrilla is where the forage hides and feeds on plankton and hydrilla gnats. This gives them the perfect scenario of food and protection from predators. The best approach is to start by fishing the outer edges of the grass bed. If the fish are not coming out and attacking, then move in and look for the pockets and high spots. Keeping the bait close to the grass and making contact, trying to just tick the tops is key and the best way to trigger a strike. When you do get hung up, just rip it free which often triggers a strike. When you bring your bait over a hole, stop it and let it fall momentarily and then pick it up with a steady retrieve. Keep trying different areas and changing color, size and speed while looking for changes in the grass and the depth. When the bite slows down, scaling down the size of your bait will allow you to use a slower retrieve while keeping the bait just over the grass.
Bass use the hydrilla for warmth in the colder months of the year which makes fishing the grass with a trap an ideal pattern in the fall and winter months. In the summer they’ll use the hydrilla for cover and its rich oxygen content. So hydrilla provides a year round hot spot for fishing a Rat-L-Trap.
Chrome and blue is the best all-around color for any color of water, cover and especially in windy conditions. It has the most flash and is the first choice. Lectric Silver and Lectric Gold also give off a lot of flash. The Lectric Gold also simulates the Florida wild golden shiner, the main food source of Florida bass. The chrome and blue Sugar Shad, with its scale pattern, gives a little less flash and imparts a slightly different rattling sound. Rapala’s Rattlin’ Rap is another good choice with its natural bait look and smaller, more streamline, profile but also its own unique sound.
Two more Rat-L-Trap colors that work well are Gold Black Back and West Point.
The latter is no longer offered by Bill Lewis Lures but you can paint your own. Start with a bone colored trap and, by using fingernail polish, paint the back blue and the belly orange.
- Bone Rat-L-Trap
- Blue polish-Wet n’ Wild #415
- Orange polish-Revlon-Orange Flare #13
Crankbaits are the easiest bait for a fish to throw which is even more so with a lipless crankbait. For this reason, most anglers will change the hooks out with a different style and sharper hook. Two of the best choices would be the Mustad Triple Grip trebles and the Pradco XCalibur. The XCalibur is a 6 degree bend treble that rotates as it penetrates the fish giving it better gripping power to help prevent the fish from throwing the bait. Be careful not to oversize the hooks when replacing them. Choose hooks that are comparable in size. Larger hooks will reduce the action of the bait and can even tangle causing missed strikes.
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