Pond Hopping: Rippin’ baits

Pond Hopping:  Rippin’ baits

Feb 1, 2012

Let ‘er rip! Rip baits tear ‘em up!

You’ve been pitchin’ and flippin’ for years.

Now try rippin’!

Okay. Rippin’ is not really new. In fact, if you love fishing lipless crankbaits, odds are you have ripped them plenty of times, especially when you were fishing over the tops or on the edges of submerged vegetation.

“Ripping” may have been what you did to free your bait from the grass tangles. Those jarring bass strikes you experienced when your bait ripped free seemed a nice freakish bonus – until you figured out how often those accidents happened! If you were on your toes, you turned common coincidence into a conscious triggering effort.

Rippin’ through the ice and indeep summer grass

At least two prominent tackle makers – Northland Fishing Tackle and Rapala — have made “ripping” the theme underlying their latest lipless crankbaits. What’s most interesting with these new baits, however, is where and how they are being used and the expanded applications of the  lipless crankbait category!

If you thought this category of baits was just for shallow water fish in early spring, think again. Recent use of these baits in vertical ice fishing and deep open water applications demonstrates the expanded four-season versatility of these baits from the top to the bottom of the water column.

Northland Fishing Tackle designed the Rippin’ Shad – with “Live Forage” photo finish – to jig vertically through ice holes for game species like northern pike, walleye, lake trout and smallmouth bass. (And, indeed, they DO catch smallies, too!)

As for the Rapala Rippin’ Rap, Great Lakes bass pro Joe Balog plumbed the depths of Lake St. Clair with the bait during the summer and fall of 2011. The thin-walled, heavily weighted bait proved surprisingly effective over grass flats at 15- to 16-foot depths.

The Rippin’ Shad is not the first bait of this style to be marketed to ice men. Salmo’s Chubby Darter helped to put lipless crankbaits into the arsenal of hard water anglers looking for a “difference maker” earlier this decade. The Koppers Live Target brand also has a “golden shiner” model that has been particularly popular with ice anglers fishing for walleye and lake trout in the American Northeast.

By the way, this is but one of many examples that gamefish, including bass, can be triggered to bite a reaction bait even in the coldest of conditions. I suspect that rippin’ will even bring some new ice anglers into the fold!

Look for details on the aforementioned baits and how to use them effectively in the full “Lipless Crankbait Special” line-up, coming this weekend in Small Waters Fishing.            –Mike Pehanich


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