Bass Fishing Expert Advice Brought To You By Bill Lewis Lures and Professional Fisherman Tommy Martin
This is the second of a two part series by Professional Bass Fisherman Tommy Martin. The series is brought to you by the Bill Lewis Lure Company and their Rat-L-Trap lures. Martin, a former ’Classics champ and 27-year veteran on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail, is one of the most highly respected anglers in the business.
Sizing it up.
The Rat-L-Trap comes in an assortment of sizes ranging from 1\8 ounce up to 1 ounce. There is a size and presentation for every situation that may come up.
When choosing a lure for pre-spawn bassin’ around submerged vegetation, Martin places the most emphasis on the size or depth of the window between the surface and the top of the hydrilla bed. The idea is to select a bait that will run the same depth as the top of the grass bed when retrieved at a fast rate of speed.
“Bass like the Trap moving fast, especially in clear water,” he said. “A smaller bait won’t sink as quickly as a heavy one, which means it will be more efficient than a heavy lure when fishing around shallow grass beds. It’s just the opposite when fishing around deeper grass. The larger the window, the heavier the bait I’ll use.”
The lighter Mini-Trap is the best choice for fishing 2-3 feet of water where the grass is growing a foot off the bottom. Martin says additional “lift” can be achieved by fishing the lure on 14-17 pound line. “But don’t go any heavier than that or you’ll take away from the action of the bait,” he said.
The original Rat-L-Trap works well in the three-foot window that occurs in water five-feet deep with hydrilla growing two feet off the bottom, whereas the heavier Mag-Trap is the best choice for fishing 6-7 feet of water where the grass is protruding 2-3 feet off bottom.
When spring rains push water abnormally high, which is often the case on lakes such as Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, the window of open water above the grass may be as much as 6-8 feet. According to Martin, this is the ideal situation for throwing the Mag-Force one ounce models using a slower retrieve.
“The one ounce Trap is perfect for big fish” he added. “It’s bigger and heavier, and produces tremendous sound and vibration.”
Anyone who is serious about bass fishing has likely heard the terminology “fishing system.” Key elements included in the system are the rod, reel, line and, of course, the lure type and size. Pro anglers devise their fishing systems so as to achieve the highest possible degree of balance between all the elements involved.
Rods– Martin uses different length rods for different sizes of Rat-L-Traps. A 7-foot medium action Bass Pro Crankin’ Stick accommodates the heavier 3/4 and 1-ounce lures nicely, while a slightly shorter 6 1/2-foot works best in combination with the 1/2-ounce Trap.
Martin will go to an even shorter rod, usually a 6-footer, when probing the shallows with a 1/4-ounce Trap.
Reels– A quality level wind is the only way to go. Martin says a reel with a 5:1 gear ratio is the best all around choice for fishing Traps over submerged grass. “With that ratio I have the ability to slow down or speed up my retrieve if I need too,” he said.
Line Size – Martin prefers 17-20 clear Trilene XT for baits weighing 3/4-ounce or more. The smaller 1/4-ounce works best with lighter line, say 12-14 pound test.
The Color Chart.
As is the case with other families of lures, the Rat-L-Trap is available in just about every color under the sun. Martin is especially fond of four of them: The chrome/blue Lake Fork special (RT-25Spec), crawfish red (MG-SY8), crawfish brown (MG-460W) and chartreuse/orange belly (MG-24).
“You can’t go wrong with those four basic colors,” he said. “They’ll catch bass in lakes all over the country.”
Martin chooses his color scheme in accordance with the season of the year and water clarity. All the aforementioned colors are deadly this time of year, but the list is whittled down somewhat when faced with a situation where the water is off-color or muddy.
“It’s been my experience that Rat-L-Traps produce as well in dirty water as they do in clear water,” notes Martin. “When I am faced with fishing off-color water , I usually go with larger sizes and brighter colors. The chrome will be most effective when the sun is shining, where the chartreuse is the best choice under overcast skies.”
While no fishing plan is infallible, including the Rat-L-Trap, knowing what size, color, and presentation for this versatile lure can sure improve your chances on your next trip.
This completes the second of the two part series by Tommy Martin brought to you by the Bill Lewis Lure Company and Rat-L-Trap.
Stop back at Hunting & Fishing Gear Review for future Tommy Martin articles.
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