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STOP EVERYTHING 57 Secrets How To Fish A Lipless Crankbait The Right Way [Lipless Crankbait Fishing Tips On When, Where, and Why]

How to Fish a Lipless Crankbait for Bass

Everyone’s talking about how the lipless crankbait catches a ton of bass, right? We all know that you should never fish the same bait, the same way, every time you hit the water, that’s just going to kill your chances of catching fish.  If you’re like me, you probably can’t stop feeling frustrated about learning something that should seem so easy to use, right? 

What almost no one understands about lipless crankbait fishing is it has to be used with a very specific technique. It’s not just casting your lure out there just hoping a fish will eat one of these baits, it’s knowing and recognizing the lure’s strengths and capitalizing on those. But hardly anybody is talking about exactly how to fish a lipless crankbait. It really comes down to knowing where precisely to fish the lipless crankbait, and what size and type of lipless crankbait to have at your fingertips, so you can then simply choose the correct lure to give you the best chances of catching fish – hands down. 

This means no matter where you are you’ll have the confidence to use this lure, and you’ll see a huge difference in your fish catching ability, as long as you take advantage of these tips that have been given to you. The blueprint article I created for you is a legit shortcut on a knowledge topic that I have spent years learning about and perfecting. I have consumed hundreds of hours reading and watching instructional content so I can summarize and present it to you in the hopes of you can finally celebrate the gains and successes of fishing the a lipless crankbait.

What Does a Lipless Crankbait Imitate and Why Would a Fish Bite It?

A lipless crankbait is a fishing lure that is available in a variety of colors and sizes to imitate different baitfish, including shad, bluegill, perch, and crawfish. 

Lipless crankbaits do not include a lip or a bill on the front, which produces different movements compared to the lipped versions. A lipped crankbait has a small lip or bill that causes the bait to dive as it pushes against the water during retrieval. 

Lipless crankbaits are flat-sided. The flat-sided design and the lack of a lip allow the bait to wobble side-to-side during your retrieval. 

The movement more closely imitates a fish swimming. With the right presentation and retrieval, the lipless crankbait may even imitate an injured fish.

While diving and floating crankbaits can produce wide movement, the wobbling movement of the lipless crankbait is tighter. Bass and other fish tend to go for lipless crankbait due to the lifelike movement. 

The wobbling action of the lure creates vibrations that pass through the water, which can help grab the attention of nearby fish. 

The lack of a lip also allows you to retrieve your crankbait with a faster speed, which increases the amount of vibration. However, you can also retrieve the crankbait slowly for more subtle action.

Each movement of the crankbait can also produce a flash of color. This flash imitates the presence of injured baitfish, making it more attractive to bass.

What Are the Different Types of Lipless Crankbaits?

The first lipless crankbaits were made over 100 years ago. In the following decades, manufacturers have created hundreds of crankbaits. 

Some of the main considerations when comparing types of lipless crankbaits include:

  • Size and weight
  • Baitfish
  • Color
  • Rattle or silent

The weight of a lipless crankbait typically ranges from 1/8-ounce to 1-ounce. 1/4-ounce to 3/4-ounce are the most common weights for bass fishing. 

The sizes often vary in relation to the weight and may range from 2 to 4 inches. Many of the 1/2-ounce lipless crankbaits are 2.5 inches to 3 inches in length. 

Some lipless crankbaits are designed to closely resemble specific baitfish. For example, you can buy crankbaits with a body that looks more like a shad, bluegill, bream, or crawfish. 

You can also find crankbaits with color patterns based on different baitfish such as a shad pattern or a bluegill pattern. Common color options include gold, silver, white, black, chartreuse, orange, red, and blue. 

The body of a lipless crankbait typically includes small weights that act as a rattle. However, you can also buy silent crankbaits. 

Rattle baits are suitable for most conditions. A silent crankbait is often used when the bass are skittish, such as in clear, calm water.

How Do You Fish a Lipless Crank? Best Basic Presentations/Retrieval Techniques

Lipless crankbaits work well with a variety of presentation and retrieval techniques, but the method used often depends on the season.

In the fall, anglers prefer to use a slow-roll retrieval. This involves casting far out and allowing your crankbait to sink to the desired depth. You then reel the line in with a slow and steady retrieve. 

A slow-roll retrieve reduces the vibration produced by the lipless crankbait. It also makes it easier for your crankbait to swim at lower depths in spawning areas.

Casting in light vegetation and quickly retrieving your crankbait is a common method for the summer. You can fish along the edges of aquatic grasses where fish tend to congregate in search of food. 

Anglers tend to use faster retrievals in the summer and fall. Reeling in your line quickly increases the vibration of the crankbait, which produces stronger sonic waves that travel through the water. 

You may want to use a slow, lift-fall retrieval in the winter, which can also work well in the fall. 

A lift-fall retrieval, or yo-yo retrieval, involves letting the crankbait sink to the desired depth and slowly reeling it in for two to three seconds before letting it fall back to its original depth. Repeat until you get a strike or bring your line in far enough to start over.

Best Locations and Structures to Fish with a Lipless Crankbait

Here are the five best locations and structures for a lipless crankbait:

  1. Vegetation 
  2. Shallow water 
  3. Ledges and drops 
  4. Points
  5. Holes and humps

Cover, such as vegetation, wood, and manmade structures, provide food and hiding spots for baitfish. This attracts bass and other prey. 

You can also look for “structure”, which includes the topographical features of a lake or river. Structures include changes in the lakebed or riverbed. Examples include ledges, holes, humps, and points.


Anglers using lipless crankbait often look for submerged vegetation. Fish congregate around vegetation. 

Small fish feed off plankton, small shrimp, and fish eggs, which are often found near plant growth. Bass and other large fish follow the same paths in search of prey.

You can retrieve your crankbait around the edges or tops of underwater grass. Ripping the crankbait through the grass is also a common technique for attracting aggressive strikes.

Shallow Water 

Bass are often found in the shallows during the start of spring, making the shoreline and areas near creek channels ideal for catching fish. 

Cast your crankbait near the edge of the cover and reel it in at a steady speed, allowing it to bounce or skim off the rocks on the bottom. 

Look for areas with cover, such as rocks, overhanging trees, and downed trees. You can also cast near docks and other manmade structures that offer hiding spots.

Ledges and Drops 

Ledges and drops are good places to find shad and other baitfish during the summer and warmer months, making these same structures perfect for finding bass. A ledge is where there is a sudden change in the depth of the water. 

Fish the area just before the drop, as bass set up near the top to ambush baitfish, especially if a current passes through the area. If the water lacks a current, move a little further out. 

In lakes without a strong current, the bass may suspend themselves just off the edge of the ledge.


A point is an area of land that extends from the shore into the water. Points typically have slopes or ledges that merge with the rest of the lake bed or riverbed. 

The change in the topography of the lake or river can provide a home for baitfish.

A lipless crankbait is useful in these points, as you can target bass at a variety of depths. Start in the shallower waters near the point and gradually move out and into deeper water.

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Should a Lipless Crankbait Be Fished Shallow, Deep, or Both, and Why?

You can fish with a lipless crankbait at shallow, mid-range, and deep depths. Lipped crankbaits are designed to dive to specific depths. 

For example, a 0.25-ounce lipped crankbait with a 1-inch bill may dive 5 to 15 feet. Lipless crankbaits can sink 20 feet or deeper. Yet, many anglers prefer to use lipless crankbaits at depths of 10 feet or less.

Some of the best locations and structures for bass fishing with a lipless crankbait include areas near shallower water or sudden changes in the depth of the water. However, targeting bass at different depths is useful for fishing during different times of the year. 

For example, bass often move deeper during the warmest months and head to shallower water as the temperatures cool. You are also likely to find bass in shallow water at the start of spring and the spawning period.

Fishing in deeper water often requires a slower retrieval, which allows the bait to remain at a lower depth. Keeping the bait near the surface requires a faster retrieval, which keeps the crankbait from sinking too quickly.

Lipless Crankbait Diving Depth Based on Lure Weight

Thanks to the versatility of a lipless crankbait, you can easily switch to different depths. However, a heavier lure sinks faster and works better at lower depths.

Lipless crankbaits include small weights in the belly to balance the profile of the lure. The weight also affects how quickly the lure sinks.

Here is a helpful table that outlines the most common weights and diving depths for lipless:

Weight Diving Depth
1/4-ounce Surface to 5 feet
3/8-ounce 5 to 20 feet
1/2-ounce 5 to 20 feet
3/4-ounce 20 feet or deeper

The most common choice is a 1/2-ounce crankbait. These are a medium-sized crankbait that often measures between two and three inches long. You can use a 1/2-ounce lipless crankbait at a variety of depths.

Yet, a light lipless crankbait is easier to keep in shallow water during retrieval. A 0.25-ounce crankbait is often used for fishing near the surface and at depths up to 5 feet. 

A 3/8-ounce lipless crankbait offers a compromise between the 1/4-ounce and 1/2-ounce weights. 

A 3/4-ounce lipless crankbait is typically only used for depths of 20 feet or more. A heavier lure requires you to retrieve at a faster speed but allows you to fish in deeper water with greater ease.

Keep in mind that you can allow a lighter crankbait to sink to a lower depth. However, a lighter crankbait is also more difficult to keep in deep water.

How to Set the Hook When Fishing a Lipless Crankbait for Bass?

Waiting for the right moment is the most important step when setting the hook with a lipless crankbait. 

Waiting too long gives the bass more time to reject the bait. Setting the hook too early may damage the fish without hooking it or simply result in a miss.

Most lipless crankbaits include two treble hooks. One hook extends from the midpoint on the belly while the other dangles from the rear. 

A bass can swallow both hooks and spit them out if you fail to set the hook properly. 

You should first familiarize yourself with the feel of the weight of your fishing rig. Pay attention to changes in the weight of the fishing line. 

When a bass strikes, you should notice a tug on the line. It should feel different from a sudden change in weight due to a current.

As the hooks may not immediately hook the bass, yanking the rod will simply pull the bait away before you hook into its mouth. Instead of yanking the rod, reel in the slack on your line.

Hold your rod at a 45-angle as you tighten the line. Holding the rod too high makes it more difficult to quickly pull the rod up when striking. 

After tightening the line, if you still feel the weight of the fish, pull the rod upward and toward your chest as you begin quickly reeling in.

Best Color for Lipless Crankbait Fishing and Why?

Silver and gold lipless crankbaits offer more drawing power on bright, sunny days. The flash from the metal allows the bass to see your crankbait from further away. Silver may work a little better in clear water while gold is preferred for stained water.

Chartreuse is a bright, vibrant color and is often used during cloudy weather or in stained water. The bright color helps increase the visibility of your crankbait in poor conditions. 

White is another common choice for cloudy days and may offer greater visibility in clear water compared to stained water. Without a strong light source, a white crankbait can create a more noticeable silhouette.

Natural lipless crankbaits closely resemble the baitfish that they are meant to mimic. 

You can find natural shad, bluegill, and crawfish. These crankbaits are great for clear water and with high visibility due to their resemblance to real prey.

Here’s a helpful table for quick reference:

Season/ Condition Color
Spring Crawfish, bluegill, red, or orange
Summer Metallic, shad, bluegill
Fall Shad
Winter Crawfish and bluegill
Sunny weather and stained water Gold, chartreuse
Sunny weather and clear water Chrome, silver, ghost shad
Cloudy weather and stained water Chartreuse, white
cloudy weather and clear water White, sexy shad
Clear water and calm conditions Ghost shad, ghost bluegill
Muddy water Black, red, or orange

Environmental Factors to Consider When Fishing a Lipless Crankbait

Choosing the right lipless crankbait depends largely on the season, weather conditions, and water conditions. Here is a closer look at each of these environmental factors.

Seasonal Considerations – Spring

After water temperatures reach above 50-degrees to 55-degrees, all species of fish start moving toward the warmer, shallower bays and bank-line. Bass also start feeding heavily to prepare for spawning.

Crawfish are the preferred diet of bass in early spring. However, bass are not picky eaters. 

While crawfish better mimic what the bass is looking for, they also go after shad, bluegill, and minnows.

Bass do not feed during the spawning phase. They wait 10 to 14 days for the eggs to hatch. During this time, the bass become aggressive. Crawfish and bluegill often attack bass nests for food.

Based on these factors, a 1/4-ounce to 1/2-ounce lipless crawfish or bluegill crankbait may work well. However, you can also try crankbaits that resemble shad or any other type of baitfish.

With a casting reel, you may use between 15-pound and 25-pound test fluorocarbon or 30-to-65-pound test braided fishing line. 

Red and orange are good choices for colors, especially when visibility is slightly limited. White may work better on overcast or rainy spring days when the water is relatively clear. 

White can help catch the attention of bass and it is a natural color for some crawfish during this time of the year. 

Seasonal Considerations – Summer

The water temperatures increase throughout the summer, which sends bass and shad into deeper water. However, bass continue to migrate through the water looking for food. This is a good time of the year to fish underwater structures.

Ledges, humps, holes, and other changes in the topography of the lake bed or riverbed provide feeding opportunities for bass. 

You can continue to use a light or medium lipless crankbait and target bass at depths up to 10 feet or so. However, if you want to try your luck in deeper water, you can try a 3/4-ounce lipless crankbait. 

Larger crankbait that resembles bluegill or bream may produce good results in lakes with deep waters. If you prefer to stick to shallower water, shad and sunfish are common choices for crankbaits. 

The summer is likely to bring sunnier skies, which impacts the color selection for lipless crankbaits. Metallic crankbaits are often used when the sun is shining. 

The sun penetrates the water and reflects light from the crankbait, which creates more flash. The flash may help catch the attention of larger bass.

Seasonal Considerations – Fall

The water starts to cool in the fall, which sends bass and the rest of the fish toward the channels that feed the lake or river. 

Rains help wash nutrients into the water, which results in plant growth. Shad and other fish feed on vegetation. The presence of shad brings bass.

You may want to return the setup that you use in the spring. Target bass in shallower water with a light or medium lipless crankbait. 

Stick with shad lipless crankbait, as shad are the primary food for bass in the fall. Common colors include natural shad and shad patterns. 

As the temperatures start to drop, you may want to alter your presentation and retrieval methods. When temperatures drop below 40-degrees, baitfish become much less active. 

Instead of a fast wobble, you want more of a subtle movement. Using a slower retrieval can more closely mimic the movement of a lethargic baitfish. 

Seasonal Considerations – Winter

Continue using a slow retrieval to produce subtler movement during the winter. The colder weather creates inactivity, which you can mimic with the tight wiggle of a slow-moving lipless crankbait.

The colder temperatures also cause shad to die off. Continue using a lipless shad crankbait during the early part of winter. 

In mid to late winter, switch to a larger crankbait that mimics a larger bait species, such as crawfish and other species that remain active at your local lake or river. 

The metabolism of the bass slows in the winter. They feed less and do not chase fast-moving prey.

Winter also tends to bring muddy water. If the water is cold and has limited visibility, try using a red or chartreuse crankbait. However, avoid too bright of a color, such as a neon color. If the crankbait is too intimidating, the bass may not go after it.

Bass may also move to deeper water in the winter. A common rule is to move about 10 to 20 feet away from your usual fishing spots when fishing a lake or river that you are familiar with. 

For example, if you typically fish 20 feet from a specific point, move 30 to 40 feet from the same point.

Fishing in the middle of the day is also a good idea during the winter. The water is at its warmest, which causes baitfish to move around and bass to come out for easy feeding. 

Clear Skies vs. Cloudy Skies

The conditions of the sky impact visibility in the water. Cloudy skies create less visibility. However, bass are also very active on overcast days. Bass seek out prey and launch aggressive strikes. 

Cloudy skies can also lead to rain. Depending on the water temperature, rain may help or hurt your chances of getting a bite. 

On warm spring or summer days, a warm rain can make fish more active. A fast retrieval can help lure aggressive bass during these conditions. 

After a cool rain, the fish are likely to be less active, requiring a slower retrieval.

If the water is clear and the sky is cloudy, try using a white or black crankbait. White and black crankbaits can create a strong silhouette. 

If the water is also cloudy, a brightly colored crankbait may increase the visibility of your bait. Common choices include orange and chartreuse. 

Clear skies can make fishing conditions a little more difficult. The sun increases visibility, which makes it more difficult for bass and baitfish to hide. 

You should cast in areas with cover, such as vegetation, woods, and docks. 

Natural colors and metallic colors are recommended for sunny skies. The bass can see more clearly, making natural-looking crankbait more enticing. 

A metallic crankbait can add flash, which may attract more bites. If the water is murkier, stick with a bright crankbait. 

Windy vs. Calm

Windy weather can create more activity, as the bass often face into the current to catch baitfish. Bass are less easily spooked than other fish, and they are more aggressive in windy and stormy weather. 

Bass and baitfish are also likely to move toward structure and cover. Cast your lipless crankbait near channel banks, shorelines, and points.

You should also fish in shallower waters compared to the depth that you typically fish on a normal day. Baitfish move closer to the surface to feed during windy weather. 

Anglers also often cast into the wind. You may not cast as far but casting into the wind helps during retrieval. 

Windy conditions can limit visibility and keep your crankbait from sinking as quickly. Using a heavier crankbait, such as a 3/4-ounce lipless crankbait, can help your fishing rig drop to greater depths in windy conditions. 

You may also need to use a different color in deeper water. Deeper water blocks more of the sunlight. 

If you plan on dropping your crankbait more than 20 feet, try using a black or purple crankbait. 

Yet, if you prefer to fish the surface of the water, sticking with a light crankbait works better. A light gold lipless crankbait can mimic the movement of a bait fish swimming near the surface of the water in search of food. 

Calm conditions can increase the difficulty of catching bass, especially in clear water. Calm weather and clear water allow the bass to see everything. 

This is another situation where you want to use lipless crankbait that most closely resembles baitfish. Natural colors and patterns are more likely to trick bass.

You should also increase your casting distance. Casting further reduces the chance of bass detecting your presence. 

Faster retrievals are also often used in calm waters. A fast retrieval through vegetation or cover can mimic bait fish darting away.

Clear/Lightly Stained Water vs. Muddy/Dingy-Colored Water

As with the previous considerations, the difference between clear and stained water requires different equipment. 

You can analyze the clarity of the water using a fishing line or length of rope marked every one foot.

Drop the fishing line or rope into the water and allow the end to sink. If you can only see one to two feet, the water is muddy. 

Stained water has a visibility of two to four feet. Lightly stained water has a visibility of four to eight feet. If you can see eight feet or further, the water is clear. 

Clear water increases visibility, which means you do not need a bright color to attract the attention of bass. White, natural, and silver colors can fool bass more easily in clear water. 

Using a fluorocarbon fishing line is another tip for fishing in clear water. The fluorocarbon line becomes almost invisible in clear water. However, the fluorocarbon line tends to have more stretch compared to the braided line.

Using a fishing line with more stretch means that you may not feel every movement on the line. 

If the water is muddy or dingy-colored, it helps to have a crankbait that can catch more of the sunlight. 

For example, a gold lipless crankbait can catch the light and create more flash on a sunny day. When fishing in muddy water on an overcast day, an orange or chartreuse lipless crankbait is more visible.

You may also need to change your fishing location depending on whether the water is clear or dingy. 

In clear water, the bass are more likely to rely on cover to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. Try fishing near vegetation, wood, and manmade structures. 

You may also need to go deeper when fishing in clear water. Switching to a heavier crankbait and letting it sink to a depth of 20 or more feet may help you catch bass near areas of cover or underwater structure.

In muddy water, you can fish at shallower depths. The limited visibility of the water sends baitfish higher, and the bass follow suit.


Is a Rattle Trap a Lipless Crankbait?

Most lipless crankbaits are “rattle baits”. The body of the crankbait is partially hollowed out to add small metal weights. The weights clack against each other, creating a rattling sound. 

The original crankbait was released in the early 1900s and did not include a rattle. It was a flattened crankbait without a lip, allowing the lure to sink easily and produce a wobbling movement during retrieval.

In the 1960s, Bill Lewis started a fishing tackle business. The Rat-L-Trap was one of his first products. 

The Rat-L-Trap was a lipless crankbait with a rattle in the belly. It became a hit and created the “rattle bait” category of baits. 

So, a rattle trap is a lipless crankbait, but a lipless crankbait is not always a rattle trap. Along with rattling, lipless crankbaits, you can buy silent lipless crankbaits.

A silent lipless crankbait does not include a rattle trap. It relies on the vibration caused by the flat, lipless design to attract attention. 

A silent crankbait is a good choice in conditions that cause bass to spook easily.

Bass tend to spook easily in clear, calm water. Visibility is increased and there is less feeding activity. You typically need to use a natural presentation in these conditions. 

Instead of a flashy lipless crankbait with a rattle, you may have better success with a natural-looking silent crankbait.

How Do You Fish a Lipless Crankbait in Grass?

Fishing a lipless crankbait in grass involves casting near vegetation and pulling your bait through. After your crankbait snags a piece of grass, quickly lift the tip of your rod to tear the bait free. 

Lighter lipless crankbaits often work best in the grass, as they sink at a slower rate. A 1/4-ounce to 1/2-ounce crankbait should sink slowly enough for you to keep it above the grass.

Baitfish are often found within a few feet of the top of the grass. They occasionally swim down into the grass in search of food and dart back to the safety of the school. 

You can easily mimic the same movement using a lipless crankbait. 

Start by looking for an area with submerged vegetation. Drop your bait above the grass. 

Allow it to sink into the grass and then snap it out by quickly lifting the tip of your rod.

Reel in some of the slack and allow the crankbait to drop again. Repeat this method until you get a bite or bring in enough line. 

How to Add Scent to a Lipless Crankbait?

Scent products allow you to add the scent of common baitfish. You can replicate the scent of the prey that bass are feeding on during times of the year, such as shad, bream, bluegill, and crawfish.

Water-based products work best, as the scent needs to dissolve in the water for it to travel. Oil-based products stick to the hard plastic of the lipless crankbait better but may not create a strong scent in the water.

Water-based scents are available as spray-on and gel products. Spray-on scents are easy to apply. 

You simply spray your crankbaits before casting. Gel products may be brushed on. 

Read the instructions before applying, as you may need to let the product sit for a few minutes before it gets wet. 

You can also buy scented tabs. The tabs are available in a variety of sizes. 

One side of the tab contains an adhesive, allowing you to stick the tabs to the sides of your lipless crankbait. 

Scent products are water-activated. After the water dissolves the chemicals from the product, you need to reapply the scent. 

Depending on the product, you may need to reapply every 60 minutes or so.

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