Feb 18, 2012
Custom cranks: fine-tuned to species and your taste!
by Mike Pehanich
Lipless crankbaits were multiplying faster than jackrabbits on Viagra when I last did a major feature on the category. (”Unspoken Words on Lipless Crankbaits,” Bassmaster magazine 2009).
Although the pace may have slowed slightly since then, clearly lure designers haven’t worked through all the permutations of the category, and perhaps they never will.
But I couldn’t close out this winter’s lipless crankbait special without mentioning the tailored-to-forage designs of Kopper’s Fishing & Tackle’s LiveTarget lipless baits and the “Have it your way!” offer of the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap line.
Tailored shapes and finishes
The LiveTarget line from Kopper’s Fishing & Tackle offers four different bodies (and two sizes) of its five lipless crankbait offerings: golden shiner, gizzard shad, crawfish, bluegill and pumpkinseed. (The latter two incorporate the same body.)
“Each is a separate product with a different shape, different action, and different rattle,” notes Tom Chopin, who directs marketing for the Grand Island, N.Y.-based company.
Kopper’s attracted angler attention with its ultra-realistic finishes. But Chopin emphasizes that the lures are by no means just pretty faces and that Grant Koppers wanted the baits “to act like the fish they are mimicking” as much as to mirror their appearance, and to sound unique as well.
“The rattle in the golden shiner has a ‘million dollar’ sound,” he says. “Of all our baits, it’s the favorite of (Bassmaster Elite Series angler) David Walker. It catches walleye, bass, lake trout, pike and a lot of catfish, too, for some reason. It won a bass tournament on Lake Erie this past summer.
“The gizzard shad has a deep, low frequency rattle. The crawfish has glass beads and a softer rattling sound. And the rattle of the bluegill and pumpkinseed body is in between those.”
Interestingly, the golden shiner got a huge boost from the ice fishing crowd, which has been slaying bass and lake trout on it in waters in the Northeast.
Chopin credits Bassmaster Elite pro Stephen Browning with developing the gizzard shad design and “fine tuning” its sound. “We tried several mixes of brass, glass and steel balls before we found the rattle that suited him,” says Chopin.
“‘Trap it your way”
Years ago, the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap became the “Kleenex” of lipless crankbaits when the lure’s name became synonymous with the entire category.
What has impressed many and, no doubt, extended the popularity of Rat-L-Traps has been the wide range of attractive colors and finishes the company has offered. And it’s hard to find a Rat-L-Trap aficionado who does not identify a special ‘Trap color as his “secret bait.” Stories of anglers hoarding a hard-to-get or out-of-production color are legion.
One buzz at the recent Bass University gathering in Rosemont, Illinois, was that Bill Lewis Lures had created a custom lure division. For some, that means recreating some old favorite colors; for others, it means designing a one-of-a-kind ‘Trap.
The Bill Lewis website has a “custom lure creator” to help select size and color options. You can add multiple colors and even select specific colors for different parts of the bait.
Of course, a special order price comes with the service. Custom Rat-L-Traps will go for $14.95 each or more, but they can fall as low as $7.95 per bait for orders of six or more. (Exact color matches are not guaranteed.)
Prices will vary with the degree of complexity. That means, that tiger-bluegill-crawthroat-perch combo that haunted your dreams will likely cost you extra.
But, hey, how can you put a price on a “secret bait?” –MP
Bill Lewis Lures, 3240 Baldwin Avenue, Alexandria, LA 71301 Attn: Custom Lure.