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A Logical Way To Bigger Bass

by Tommy Martin and Rat-L-Trap

Any time an article comes out on tips to help you catch more and bigger bass, you can be assured that topics like structure, water temperature, fishing pressure and weather conditions will be discussed. You can also be pretty sure that the author will lend advice, based upon the above-mentioned data, on lure selection. He may make suggestions on which type of lure, what color and possibly even how to fish the bait.

All too often, a simpler, more logical approach to lure selection is your best bet. Examine the one thing that can truly lead you in the right direction - the natural bait the bass are feeding on. Bass eat crawfish... they eat frogs, too. They’ll even eat leeches and salamanders. But if you look inside the stomachs of 100 big bass, you’ll find shad, bluegill and /or baby crappie in 95 of them. It’s no secret that big bass prey on small fish, mostly shad, minnows or their look-alike. Therefore, in a logical fashion, we should look first at lures that accurately imitate these baitfish.

Before we choose a lure, let’s take one more logical step. Let’s study the live prey a bit closer. All of the aforementioned baitfish have a few very similar characteristics. It’s obvious that they are all shaped basically alike. They have thin bodies. So, as we begin thinking about the right lures, shape is an extremely important characteristic. We should look for a lure that has a flat body and has the overall outline of the baitfish.

Now we will discuss how the natural prey of the black bass moves through the water. These small fish have quick movements. Their “wriggle” is very tight. The tightness of this wriggle is exaggerated when they speed-up to avoid a predator. It should also be noted that baitfish commonly travel in schools. When predatory fish, like bass, attack a school, they pick out a single target, much like a shooter choosing a single bird from a covey rise. This also tends to increase the perceived speed of the wriggle.

Another factor to be considered is the size of the baitfish at the time that you are fishing. Because baitfish grow throughout the season, matching your lure size to the available food source will help you produce a more realistic presentation. Your final lure selection should come in a variety of sizes to help you accomplish this match.

Now let’s put these ideal lure characteristics together. We now know that we are looking for a flat-bodied bait. The design of this lure should be such that it creates a tight vibration when retrieved. The lure should be shaped like a baitfish. The lure also has to come in enough size and color variations to make it applicable under all possible conditions.

Does such a lure exist? It sure does and its’ made by Bill Lewis Lures in Alexandria, Louisiana. For over 25 years, Bill Lewis Lures has been providing bass anglers with the highest quality, most overall effective crankbaits on the market. This “do-it-all” lure is the world famous “Rat-L-Trap.” Many have tried to copy the superior design of the “Rat-L-Trap,” but all of those efforts have been in vain. This lure still stands alone as the highest producing bass lure there is.

The fast vibration of the “Rat-L-Trap” combined with its accurate shape and lipless design, makes it the perfect shad imitator. It also comes in many color variations to become crappie or bluegill as the situation demands. Being available in multiple sizes and weights causes this bait to meet every characteristic of the ideal lure as described earlier.

One of the most unique features of this lure, and one that makes it extremely versatile is its ability to fall through the water. As I retrieve a “Rat-L-Trap”, I am constantly feeling for the lure to hit a structure, like a log or stump. When this happens, I immediately pause the retrieve for several seconds. This lets the lure fall through towards the bottom. Many of my strikes come as the lure is falling.

Presentation techniques for this lure are as endless as your creativity allows them to be. The rattles inside a “Rat-L-Trap” make noise with the slightest of movements. This bait can be retrieved slowly for a cold water or early season presentation. It can also be retrieved in rapid, jerking motion to effectively imitate an injured shad.

My favorite method, and one that has helped me boat several big bass, is something I call “Rippin” The Trap. As I begin my retrieve and establish the depth I want, I’ll “rip” the lure through the water by pulling my rod tip quickly for about 6 to 8 feet. After a “rip,” I let the bait fall a few feet and then “rip” it again, right through my desired depth. This puts the quickest action of the lure right through the bass’ strike zone several times on each cast. I believe this action causes not only feeding strikes, but it provokes agitation strikes as well.

Don’t be misled into believing that this crankbait cannot be fished in heavy cover. The design of the “Rat-L-Trap” actually prevents many hang-ups. Because it’s lipless, the contoured front of the lure slides over limbs and logs much more easily that those lures with plastic lips. The favorite hiding place for shad and the favorite ambush spot for bass should never be overlooked or underfished. Throw the “Rat-L-Trap” right in there and be prepared for very satisfying results.

The original “Rat-L-Trap,” in 1/2 oz. size, is a crankbait that’s hard to beat. Its effective, lipless design has been copied by many manufacturers, but nobody has managed to top the performance of the Bill Lewis model.

Every bass angler has his “pet” colors. Bill Lewis Lures has made sure they have a color or combination of colors which appeal to everyone. With over 100 color variations, the “Rat-L-Trap” family can be broken down into four basic shades, or patterns. The most popular, and I believe the most productive, of those choices are the chrome versions. Chrome/blue back, chrome black back and all the rest are some of the most deadly bass baits anywhere. Many big bass as well big money tournaments have gone to anglers who know the value of chrome “Traps”.

The shad patterns are also highly productive. Always keep in mind the baitfish in the particular area that you’re fishing. Also remember that there’s a Rat-L-Trap to match the color of that prey. Among the shad pattern, the Tennessee shad is always around the top of the list for big bass production.

If perch are the main item on the bass menu, Bill Lewis suggests a chartreuse colored Trap. Imitating the perch and its slight color variations is another great characteristic of the original Rat-L-Trap. Early in the season, shortly after the perch hatch, the 1/4 ounce chartreuse Mini-Trap can be very effective.

Finally, I’ll mention the color pattern that’s the hottest bass lure in tournaments all spring. The crawfish pattern or red Traps have been amazing so far this year. From the electric red to the basic red crawfish, these baits have been good producers from the start. Red seems to be the overall best color choice for the early spring season, with chrome moving ahead as the water temperature warms.

The important thing to understand about lure color is that bass react to Rat-L-Traps quickly. There is no hesitation to study the lines or stripes. Predatory fish are interested only in the overall shade of their prey. They don’t take the time nor have the ability to reason. They simply react positively to positive stimuli. The original Rat-L-Trap is a totally positive stimulus. That’s why it works so well.

With offerings in virtually every size I need, I can “Trap” bass regardless of their current size preference of baitfish. Now anglers can choose from six sizes of Rat-L-Trap; 1/8 ounce, 1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 3/4 ounce, 1 ounce or the hulk of the line, a 1 1/2 ounce Trap. With this variety of size and color available, it’s easy to see why I say that Bill Lewis has exactly what you need.

In a year’s time I make thousands of casts. A large percentage of these casts have a Rat-L-Trap attached. I lend a large measure of my success to Bill Lewis Lures and to the original chrome/blue back Rat-L-Trap. Without those two entities, I’d still be looking for logical ways to catch more and bigger bass.

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