UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Clear Lake

10 new crankbaits for walleyes

Rapala TT-20 Minnow

-------------------------------------- Editor's note: For only $8, you can get a one-year subscription to the online edition of either FLW Outdoors Magazine or Walleye Magazine, including all the great articles and photos included in the print editions plus enhanced content like videos and much more (free preview of FLW e-Magazine). That same $8 also gets you a Player's Advantage membership for FLW Fantasy Fishing and discounts on FLW merchandise and other products and services. -------------------------------------- Advancement in lure design, crankbaits in particular, is a never-ending game that results in countless new products anglers can try. On one hand, that's part of the fun of fishing. On the other, it's expensive to buy new lures every year, especially when they may not produce any better than such tried-and-true stalwarts as Rapala Husky Jerks, Shad Raps and Reef Runners. To help you pinpoint which new crankbaits might fit your fishing style and local waters, I put the top new walleye crankbaits through the wringer both on the lake and in the test tank, and asked several FLW Outdoors pros what they thought. I learned a lot about what works on the waters I fish. In the end, though, only you can be the judge of what works for you. Hopefully, the following will help narrow the field. RAPALA TT-20 MINNOW Some background The new Trolls-To Minnow series lives up to the Rapala history of building crankbaits that run true and catch fish. Indicated by its model number, the deep-diving TT-20 crankbait was designed to get down quickly and dive to 20 feet when trolled behind 100 feet of 10-pound-test monofilament, consequently taking the guesswork out of depth control. Other models are available that dive to 10 and 15 feet. Cool features This 4 3/8-inch long minnow-imitator features much flatter sides than traditional walleye crankbaits and a small glass rattle. What makes this lure somewhat unique is that in order to get deeper quicker it runs nose-down. The modified triangular lip makes this possible and also creates less tail action than other nose-down lures. Applications While it caught fish in warm water, the TT-20 Minnow shines as a cool-water crankbait thanks to its subtle action. It performed in April on Lake Erie in cold, muddy water while the snowflakes flew. It even produced a 3-pound smallmouth in those conditions. Website: rapala.com Price: $8.99 RAPALA FLAT RAP NO.10 Some background Originally tested as a bass jerkbait, the Flat Rap casts surprisingly well for a balsa minnow-imitator. Rapala Flat Rap No. 10However, it can be trolled at slow speeds, which opens up a handful of unique opportunities for walleye trollers. Cool features As its name implies, the Flat Rap features flat sides and a slightly humped back that cause the tail to wobble in a wide pattern, creating the illusion of a crankbait with a larger profile. It floats slowly when paused and has a slightly more active action on a slow retrieve than other balsa minnow-imitators, thanks to its triangular lip and body design. It also rattles. Applications The Flat Rap will produce in a variety of situations, but because it is a shallow diver (about 5 to 6 feet without weight) it excels when teamed with a weighting system such as lead-core line or a three-way rig. It's also great in cold water due to its productive action even at speeds as slow as 1 mph. A bonus: The Flat Rap's frantic wiggle at slower speeds enables an angler to troll it in multiple-choice spreads with spinners. Website: rapala.com Price: $8.99 REEF RUNNER 900 SERIES Some background The bigger brother of the original 700 series RipStick, the 7-inch 900 Series was designed to give Reef Runner a go-to lure for muskies, stripers and inshore saltwater species. The jumbo model has bigger hooks and beefier terminal connections. It's also a catching machine when it comes to hog walleyes. Reef Runner 900 Series Cool features Other than size, what makes this lure unique is that it is a stick bait that is able to reach 19 feet on the troll - more than many deep divers - while still providing the action of a short-lipped lure. Designer Scott Stecher believes the action is as close to that of a jointed bait as you can get with a straight-bodied lure. It requires less tuning than other Reef Runner products, while running straight as an arrow at speeds in excess of 5 mph. Applications While many consider its best applications to be for muskies and stripers, the 900 Series does catch walleyes, especially in the fall when oversized fish are targeted. Yet, my first fish on the 900 Series was a 20-inch walleye, so it's for more than big bites, too. If you troll in fall when baitfish have reached their maximum size, or anywhere large baitfish live, this crankbait should produce. Website: reefrunner.com Price: $10.99 SPRO McRIP85 Some background While designed as a suspending jerkbait for bass, the McRip85 definitely catches walleyes. It casts impressively and has the ability to get deep on a relatively short line. If you cast for walleyes, it's game on; if you're a troller, you'll appreciate this lure too. Cool features The action is similar to that of a Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin' Rogue. However, the 3 1/3-inch McRip is more compact, has better color options and dives deeper on less line. When casting, it will hit bottom in 10 feet of water with 10-pound-test monofilament. Spro McRip85 Applications This lure suspends in cold water, which makes it an ideal lure for subtle early and late-season cranking. It casts like a bullet and digs deep quickly - two reasons to give it a try on waters such as Devils Lake or the Mississippi River, where casting is popular all season. Website: spro.com Price: $13.86 SPRO McSTICK95 Some background The McStick is a quality stick bait that can be cast a long distance, thanks to its weight-transfer system. Although it was designed as a bass jerkbait - much like many other favorite walleye stick baits of the pros - it catches walleyes as well. Cool features The hooks are scary-sharp black nickel models from Gamakatsu. The lure comes in great patterns that have a good balance of plated, painted and transparent finishes. The body is 3 3/4-inches long, with a sleek profile that dives about 5 feet on a typical cast. Spro McStick95 Applications Nothing stands out as the must-do tactic with this stick bait - that's a good thing. It can be cast long distances for walleyes at night, pitched to shallow cover or trolled behind planer boards. Fish it fast for an aggressive action, or slow it down for a more subtle wobble that still draws bites. Website: spro.com Price: $13.86 LINDY SHADLING NO. 7 Some background The Shadling was designed as a ground-and-pound lure with the capability of running in excess of 6 mph without blowing out. Lindy Shadling No. 7 Cool Features The Shadling features oversized red eyes that walleyes key on, and a sharp rattle. Lindy also incorporated what it calls "pull-point technology," which basically means that it runs straight right out of the box. In testing, it did just that. The colors include natural hues with holographic attraction, which have been very productive in both the Great Lakes and upper Midwest. Applications Perhaps the best thing about the Shadling is its versatility as both a casting and trolling lure. Pair this with its ability to run faster than is normal for crankbaits, and you have a lure that excels when fish are active and willing to chase. It excels behind braided or lead-core line in current, as those situations often require lures to pound bottom for fish lurking tight to the mud in the current. Trolling into the current can also cause crankbaits to swim "faster" than what the GPS speed indicates. That's no problem for the Shadling. Website: lindyfishingtackle.com Price: $6.31 SEBILE POSSESSED KOOLIE MINNOW 118LL Sebile Possessed Koolie Minnow 118LL Some background French lure designer Patrick Sebile has a mathematical approach to all of his designs that has resulted in some lures that are starting to gain a foothold in the walleye market. The Koolie Minnow 118LL (LL stands for long lip) was designed to go deeper than any other crankbait in its category. The action is similar to the aggressive Storm Deep ThunderStick, but with a little more tail kick. Applications This crankbait is tailor-made for summer and fall, when walleyes often go deep in search of cooler water and deep baitfish. On the retrieve, the Koolie "fights back" with very little resistance, so little that the first time I reeled one in behind a planer board I thought that the lure had broken off my line. Cool features The best feature of this lure is its extreme diving depth. Thanks to its unique lip, which seems to float away from the face on a narrow plastic extension, the lure can be trolled without any weight down to 38 feet deep. That's a huge advantage on just about any major walleye fishery. It also floats, which helps to keep it out of snags, and it has an internal rattle. Website: sebileusa.com Price: $14.99 SALMO HORNET 5SDR Salmo Hornet 5SDR Some background The Hornet 5SDR is primarily a trolling lure intended to get super deep. The lure has also been redesigned to run much truer out of the box than previous Salmo models, which is important for a deep diver to achieve maximum depth and performance. Applications Long-time walleye pro Bruce Samson feels that this crankbait offers anglers a great advantage when fishing both lakes and reservoirs because it doesn't require the use of speed-sensitive weights or lead-core line to troll deep around snaggy cover. With weights, any time the boat slows or turns, the crankbaits on at least one side of the boat sink, leading to snags. That doesn't happen when trolling this crankbait on monofilament or braid. Cool features The body of the Hornet is made of a hard foam core with a thin plastic shell. It has a compact 2-inch, 1/4-ounce profile, but the extra-deep model is still capable of reaching nearly 20 feet deep. The bill length and angle make it a very effective lure around cover, as it will deflect off snags without hanging up or catching bottom debris. Website: salmofishing.com Price: $9.49 KOPPERS LIVETARGET RAINBOW SMELT Koppers LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt Some background The LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt is a midlevel diving crankbait that has a somewhat more aggressive action than I expected when I first examined it. It is heavy and streamlined, and has a molded-in detail and finish that are second to none. A live smelt would likely think that this lure is real. Cool features The rattle on this lure reminds me of the old Mann's Loudmouth jerkbait, meaning it's extremely loud. The manufacturer claims it dives 7 to 9 feet, but it can actually be trolled several feet deeper than that. The lure also comes in a shallow-diving version. Applications National Guard FLW Walleye Tour pro John Balla of Bartlett, Ill., introduced me to this crankbait when he hammered a 31-inch Lake Erie walleye on it just minutes after putting the lure in the water. He believes that this lure is perfect for trolling in the spring. It dives to the perfect range that normally needs to be covered - from about 15 feet to the surface. Also, the loud rattle helps walleyes key on the lure in the low-visibility environment of mud lines and water-color transitions Balla commonly targets in spring. And the lifelike finish acts as a reaction trigger when transitioning from dirty into cleaner water. At the least, it seals the deal. Website: livetargetlures.com Price: $11.49 KOPPERS LIVETARGET YELLOW PERCH YP98D Some background Walleyes in nearly every system will eat yellow perch - hence the effectiveness of perch and firetiger patterns everywhere. The LIVETARGET Yellow Perch not only has a finish that would fool a live perch, but it has the most accurate profile and action on the market for imitating the favorite baitfish. Cool features The Perch is available in four sizes from 2 7/8 inches to a jumbo 6 1/4 inches. It comes in both medium- and deep-diving models that are advertised to reach up to 15 feet. A shallow-diving model (1 to 2 feet) that suspends is new this year. All are available in natural, metallic and fluorescent variations. LIVETARGET lures have a unique sound, and the Perch comes equipped with an internal weight-transfer system, which sounds similar to a rattle with a distinct and deep pitch. Koppers LIVETARGET Yellow Perch YP98D Applications There really aren't any other lures on the market to which I can compare this crankbait. It's unique in its shape and finish, which is one of the best reasons to give it a try. In field-testing, the YP98D model fooled several quality walleyes fished on the troll, and trolling is where it excelled (although the smaller models are great for casting presentations anywhere perch take up residence around shallow cover). It actually digs slightly deeper than the manufacturer claims, at least when trolled on .014-inch diameter line. The realistic finish makes it great for clear water, but the rattle helps walleyes find it in murky conditions. Website: livetargetlures.com Price: $12.49

Tags: magazine-features 


2014 Buyer’s Guide: Soft plastics

No category of lure is as flexible as soft-plastic lures – both in action and in use. Not only do soft plastics move freely, even when deadsticked, but the range of their use is limited only by the angler’s imagination. READ MORE »


2-D sonar strategies

There was a time when experience almost always trumped equipment when it came to finding fish. If you wanted to be a better fisherman, you got out there on the water and paid your dues. You learned the spots that produced at certain times of the year, and culled the 90 percent of the water that was almost always void of bass. The last decade or so of fish-finding technology has changed the paradigm, however. Now anglers can buy a Lowrance HDS unit, cruise likely looking spots on any lake and literally see bass. READ MORE »


Swim-jigging winter grass lines

You can rip rattle baits through winter grass beds like everyone else, or you can offer bass something different: a swim jig. Veteran bass pro Ron Shuffield says a swim jig is one of his preferred cool-weather lures when bass set up camp on grass-line edges. It’s a lure that can be worked quickly, or dragged more slowly when conditions warrant a change-up. READ MORE »


Hog hunters

A five-fish limit is the first measure of success and job one in a tournament. But it’s how you see that quintet shaping up that sets the tone for your performance. Is it an open audition where anything that measures will do, or do you want five stars that’ll rock any stage? READ MORE »


Never (hardly) ever lose a fish

How many good fish do you lose in a season of fishing, whether it’s in a tournament or just when you’re fishing for the fun of it? If it’s more than you can count on your fingers, perhaps it’s time for some constructive self-criticism. Are the fish at fault, or are you? In case it’s the latter, we offer the following advice, observations and tips from some top pros regarding how to put the odds of landing a fish successfully more in your favor. READ MORE »


X Marks the spot

Two things stand out about winter bass fishing: The fish get a little bit pickier about where they want to be, and anglers don’t want to spend as much time running a bass boat around a frigid lake trying to find them. READ MORE »


Q&A with Andy Morgan

I wouldn’t say it was a perfect season, but it sure worked out. I mean, it was a good year, but not a great year. I was surprised to even have a shot to win after Beaver Lake (he finished 68th). Honestly, it was never even on my mind until someone mentioned right before Chickamauga that I had a shot at winning it. READ MORE »


Last-minute holiday gift guide

Naughty? Nice? Who cares – Christmas isn’t far away, and any bad behavior can be overlooked for a while as we celebrate the season with presents for those nearest and dearest. As is our custom, we’ve appointed ourselves Santa’s helpers and came up with a few gift ideas. We’ve also selected goodies that cover a range of price options. Regardless of their cost, the following gear, gadgets and clothing would make any angler beam with joy. READ MORE »


Boat Care 101: Simple do-it-yourself carpet cleaning

If there is one thing I hate worse than seeing a nice bass boat with a filthy finish, it’s seeing one with dirty carpet. I like to keep my stuff clean, but not just because it looks good. A bass boat is a huge investment, and the more you can do to protect that investment the better the returns if you ever decide to sell or trade it. READ MORE »


The Chilly Truth

Not surprisingly, bass fishing has its own set of myths: Bass don’t eat topwaters when it’s sunny, big fish only eat big lures and so on. Winter fishing seems to take myths to a whole new level. Maybe the long hours in freezing cold numbs the mind as much as it does the hands, but one could write an article about how many myths there are regarding this chilly time of year – and whether or not they’re true. READ MORE »


Ask the Experts

If I use heavy-gauge hooks for flipping grass with braided line, why not use the same gauge hooks for fishing all soft plastics? READ MORE »


Sound effects

Though some anglers contend that rattling baits don’t necessarily attract strikes, and might even deter them, the preponderance of evidence favors the rattle crowd. Virtually every hard lure made nowadays – crankbaits, jerkbaits, stick baits and so forth – can be had in rattling and silent versions. READ MORE »


Guide to treble hooks

As a general rule, the treble hooks on the lures of most tournament pros aren’t original equipment. Less-expensive stock trebles are usually replaced with ultra-sharp premium hooks of the angler’s choice. READ MORE »


Dock cranking

Well-honed casting skills are required to send a crankbait deep into the reaches of a dock. It can’t be skipped on the surface easily, but even an average caster can make a crankbait go where dock bass are likely to be if he employs a trick that Walmart FLW Tour pros Bryan Thrift and Wesley Strader call “driving,” or “steering.” READ MORE »


First Look

The following products were originally featured in the 2013 August/September issue of Bass Fishing magazine. READ MORE »


Drawdown tactics

As summer winds down, however, things can change quickly on a drawdown lake – a reservoir where lake managers reduce the water level in late summer and early fall. Come practice for the EverStart showdown, Dan Morehead’s fish were nowhere to be found. In fact, despite the amazing pre-practice, Morehead didn’t catch a fish during the first day and a half of practice. The dropping lake and progressing season had caused everything to change. READ MORE »


All the right turns

Tournament fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s about making sound decisions based on experience and applying the proper strategies to make good things happen when they count the most. Of course, sometimes it’s just about trusting your instincts. READ MORE »


Deep-diving details

Anyone who follows big-league bass fishing knows pro David Fritts is legendary for his ability to sniff out and catch bass on a crankbait. True, Fritts is handy with other styles of lures. But he is the iceman with a crankbait, particularly when the bass relate to cover or structure in deep water. READ MORE »


The right trailer for the task

A jig trailer seems simple enough: a piece of molded soft plastic that dangles from a jig’s hook to add bulk, enhance action, temper the fall and suggest a crawfish or other food item. Those basic functions, though, are somewhat divergent and sometimes work against each other. READ MORE »


Lures for the thick of it

While there is more than one way to get to a fat bass that is buried up in the jungle, few methods are more effective than flipping or punching. Both are short-range techniques built around a hard-core fishing system that includes thick line and a stout rod, and any number of lures and rigs designed to slip in and out of thick cover with the skill of a grass snake. READ MORE »