Lipless crankbaits are a combination of old and new. I say they’re old, as I used to throw rattle traps when I was a kid for pike and bass. We’re talking 20 years ago, so a lipless crankbait isn’t new in that sense. But it’s new in the fact that they’re being WIDELY USED now, even for ice fishing.
While you can fish lipless crankbaits in various ways, I’m finding myself using them more now in the ice fishing game. While historically, crankbaits are casted or trolled; the new style of lipless cranks are being fished heavily vertically (such as ice fishing).
And what’s crazy is how many companies are making them now. You can get literally all colors and sizes of some sort, and the custom painted crankbait game has gone nuts over lipless.
And they do, in fact, work (why would everyone make a gimmick)? They’re great for not only triggering strikes but for calling fish into your neighborhood underneath you. I’ve had times on the ice where you’ll be ripping and the fish will scream in and smack a dead stick. They’re useful in a lot of ways.
My favorite species for using lipless crankbaits in recent years has been for walleyes. I will say it again, walleyes LOVE lipless cranks! You can basically fish them one of two ways: with or without a minnow head. And by tipping the back treble hook with a minnow head, it creates a darting action with a scent that fish go crazy for.
Whenever I’m ice fishing for walleyes, I’m always ripping to turn them on and create a reaction strike. And rattle and pause when they’re finicky. This is common with spoons as well. These styles of crankbaits are becoming hot on lakes and in my list of ice fishing walleye lures.
Where to get Lipless Crankbaits?
You’ll find them in any retail store or online outdoor stoor, assuming they carry ice fishing gear. My favorite ice fishing lipless crankbaits are Rapala’s Rippin’ Rap or Northland Tackle’s Rippin’ Shad. I tend to favor the smaller to mid-sizes, like the #5. I’ve just had better luck. But in places such as Lake Winnipeg, it’s go big or go home. Get a few sizes and experiment what works best for you.
And when those varieties of colors aren’t enough, you’ll find custom lipless cranks for sale too. My go-to buddy for painting custom crankbaits is Dane Heid at DH Custom Baits. His work is widely known and you’ll see plenty of imitators.
This winter, before you hit the ice, I suggest adding some lipless crankbaits to your tackle box. When the fish are active, you’ll find yourself putting them on for all the reasons I mentioned. So good luck out there and let’s see some pigs!