Feb 18, 2012
Crankbaits on ice
By Mike Pehanich
Lipless crankbaits are deadly on shallow to mid-depth bass in spring and fall. And for many anglers, that pretty much closes the book on this category of baits.
But in recent years, even ice anglers, too, have discovered how versatile these tools can be.
The icemen rippeth!
Northland Fishing Tackle applied its proprietary “fish photo image” technology to its Live Forage Rippin’ Shad this fall. It’s hatch-matching array of finishes include rainbow trout, perch, bluegill, crappie, sexy shad, silver shiner and gold shiner. They are available in three sizes: 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 inches.
“We are trying to duplicate little fingerlings and baitfish across the country,” explained John Crane, brand manager, when we discussed the bait last fall.
Northland Fishing Tackle introduced the Rippin’ Shad to ice anglers this year after heavy field-testing during the winter of 2010-’11.
“We had Brian Brosdahl and Tony Roach fishing them a lot,” said Crane. “Tony brought them to Winnipeg, and we fished them at Lake of the Woods, too. We are dropping the Rippin’ Shad down, lowering to the bottom, then, like the name says, we give it a rip.”
Note: Rippin’ has been a darkhorse technique for triggering gamefish in the Great White North for some time. At Lake of the Woods last March, I saw smallmouth fall to a prototype of the Rippin’ Shad. The bait also captured the interest of walleye and northern pike as well. (See our upcoming Traveling Angler feature and video on Lake of the Woods ice fishing!)
“This bait actually has a serpentine S movement every time you jig it,” explained Crane. “Rattle, rattle, vibrate. It goes in a different serpentine S movement each time, It doesn’t fall the same every time. It doesn’t do the death roll that some of those other darter baits do either.”
This action extends the drawing power of the bait and often draws fish from surprising distance.
Most ice anglers fish it next to a “set” line. “Sometimes they hit the vibrating bait; sometimes they hit the still line,” said Crane.
“This bait has a lot of weight to it,” added John Peterson, Northland founder. “The three sizes have multiple ball bearings, which gives the bait weight and gets them down quickly into the strike zone – which is normally 10, 13, 25 feet of water when we are ice fishing.”
Early open water results showed that the small sizes were very good on white bass, crappie and perch, too, according to Peterson. Northland is urging retailers to keep the Rippin’ Shad on the shelves through the open water season.
“(Lipless crankbaits) have been out for more than 30 years, but they keep getting better and better,” summed Crane. “This one is a multi-species bait. It’s good for lakers, good for pike and walleye…largemouth as well.”
Northland’s Live Forage Rippin’ Shad
The Rippin’ Shad is part of Northland’s Replica Series, which uses a proprietary technology that transfers photo images of prime prey species onto the baits to mimic their appearance accurately. (Last year, Northland used the technology on its spoons and blade baits.) A flat head design influences the tight wiggling action on the “rip.” The weighted rattle chamber delivers a quick fall and sonic vibration. Another twist is that the bait takes a different path on each drop, creating erratic action and drawing fish from a broad radius. Introduced first to ice anglers, Northland will offer it for open water angling, too, this season.