Anytime an article comes out on tips to help you catch more and bigger fish, you can be assured that topics like structure, water temperature, pH, 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 colour and possibly even how to fish the bait. All too often however, a simpler, more logical approach to lure selection is your best bet. Before looking at all of the variables that tend to lengthen lure selection articles, examine the one thing that can truly lead you in the right direction. That thing is the natural bait the fish are currently feeding upon. Fish eat crawfish. They eat frogs, too. They’ll even eat leeches and salamanders. But if you look inside the stomachs of a 100 big fish, you’ll find shad, bluegill and/or baby crappie in 95 of them. It’s no secret that big fish prey on small fish, mostly shad minnows or their look-a likes. Therefore, in a very logical fashion, we should look first at lure 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 above mentioned baitfish have a few very similar characteristics. It’s very obvious that they are all shaped basically alike. They all have thin bodies. The only ball shaped, round-bodied shad or crappie I’ve ever seen had been floating in the sun for a couple of days. So as we begin thinking about the right lure, 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. We should, therefore, try to avoid bulky, bloated looking lures that more closely resemble miniature Thanksgiving Day parade balloons that fish bait. Now we should discuss the way the natural prey of predator fish moves through the water. These small fish have very 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 fish, 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. It should now be quite clear that fat, rounded and large-lipped crankbaits do not accurately imitate live baitfish. The action of these lures is more closely described as we „wobble“ instead of wriggle. Now I’m not playing word games or trying to confuse you with semantics. The fact is, round bodied bulky crankbaits do not adequately reproduce the natural motion of small fish. Neither the sound wave nor the water movement, that are detected by the lateral line on a big fish, are as efficient with round lures as they are with flat-bodied baits. Another factor that should 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 we 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 and should not have a large plastic lip protruding from it’s face. The lure also has to come in enough size and colour variations to make it applicable under all possible conditions. Does such a lure exist? It sure does and it’s made by Bill Lewis Lures in Alexandria, Louisiana. For over 25 years, Bill Lewis Lures has been providing fish 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 fish lure there is. The fast vibration of the „RAT-L-TRAP“ combined with it’s accurate shape and lipless design, makes it the perfect shad imitator. It also comes in many colour 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 we developed earlier. One of the most unique features of this lure, and one that makes it extremely versatile is it’s ability to fall through the water. As I retrieve a „RAT-L-TRAP“, I am constantly feeling for the lure to hit a piece of structure, like a log or stump. When this happens, I immediately pause the retrieve for several seconds. This lets the lure fall through toward 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 favourite method, and one that has helped me boat several big fish, 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 fishes strike zone several times on each cast. I believe this action causes not only feeding strikes, but many times it provokes agitation strikes as well. Don’t be mislead 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 long plastic lips. The favourite hiding place for shad and the favourite ambush spot for fish 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 ½ ounce size, is a crankbait that’s hard to beat. It’s effective, lipless design has been copied by many manufacturers, but nobody has managed to top the performance of the Bill Lewis model. Every fish angler has his „pet“ colours. Bill Lewis Lures has made sure they have a colour or combination of colours to appeal to everyone’s taste. With over 100 colour variations, the „RAT-L-TRAP“ family can be broken-down into 4 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 fish baits anywhere. Many big fish as well as 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 bait fish in the particular area that you’re fishing. Also remember that there’s a „RAT-L-TRAP“ to match the colour of that prey. Among the Shad pattern, the Tennessee Shad is always around the top of the list for big fish production. If perch are the main item on the fish menu, then Bill Lewis suggests a Chartreuse coloured „Trap“. Imitating the perch and it’s slight colour variations is another great characteristic of the Original „RAT-L-TRAP“. Early in the season, shortly after the perch hatch, the 1/8 ounce Chartreuse „Mini-Trap“ can be very effective. Finally, I’ll mention the colour pattern that’s been the hottest fish 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 colour choice for the season to date, with Chrome running a very close second. The important thing to understand about lure colour is that fish react to „Rat-L-Traps“ very 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 to, 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. One of my main places to fish is the middle Mississippi River, between Illinois and N.E. Missouri. Size of the lure can play a key role to success there just like in can in large impoundments. Quite often I’ll have to downsize my lure selection to be consistently successful. The „RAT-L-TRAP“ line of lures allows me to do just that. Another highly successful application for this lure is „Trappin“ along the rip-rock of lake dams. Last fall I hit a windy day on Mark Twain Lake in N.E. Missouri. The wind was blowing shad up against the rocky dam. A Chrome/Blue back „Trap“ put me in the feeding fish and kept me busy most of the day. I also highly recommend the ¼ ounce Tennessee Shad pattern for white fish on any lake river. That mention brings us to size. With offerings in virtually every size I need, I can „Trap“ fish regardless of their current size preference of baitfish. The Original „RAT-L-TRAP“ came in the traditional ½ ounce size. Now anglers can choose from 1/8 ounce, ¼ ounce, ½ ounce, ¾ ounce or the hulk of the line, a 1½ ounce „Trap“. With this variety of size available in this variety of colour combinations, it’s easy to see why I say that Bill Lewis has exactly what you need. Whatever that may be. In a year’s time I make thousands of casts. A very large percentage of those 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 fish. For more information on the „RAT-L-TRAP“ contact: Distributor for Europe Think Big GbR Wittbräucker Str. 18 a 44287 Dortmund Germany phone: +49 (0) 231 – 44 62 65 1 fax: +49 (0)231 44 56 48 e-mail: [email protected] inquiries welcome! By Mike Roux