UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2018 - Lake Okeechobee

Sound effects

Another look at Wheeler's topwater plug.

(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the 2013 October issue of Bass Fishing magazine. To read more compelling articles from Bass Fishing magazine each month, become an FLW subscriber member. If you'd like to sign up for a digital subscription to access articles online, click here).

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.

To a lesser degree, the same goes for jigs and some soft plastics, and aftermarket rattles that can be inserted in a lure or somehow attached to it have raised the underwater decibel level as well. We asked a few pros what they thought about various types of lures and when they think rattles are a bonus - or a risk.

Jigs

FLW Tour pro Andy MorganAngler: Andy Morgan
When to rattle: Cold, dirty water is the best scenario. Sometimes you can throw a lure in there next to a bass and its senses are so dulled that it won't even know the lure is there. Rattles help in those cases. Also, in really thick cover such as a tree or a patch of grass, rattles might help a bass zero in on the jig when it can't otherwise see it.
Nonattling: War Eagle Heavy Finesse JigWhen not to rattle: About 90 percent of the time, I don't rattle. In my opinion, and given the places we fish that get a lot of fishing pressure, I think sometimes it's a negative signal. If the fish are keyed up, there isn't much you can drag across the bottom that escapes their notice.
Rattling: All-Terrain Tackle Rattling A.T. jigBottom line: Rattles aren't a big deal to me. They might help a jig fisherman at night - I don't know, I haven't fished for bass after dark in more than 20 years. For when I do use a rattle during a tournament, I like a War Eagle Hole in One interchangeable jig skirt. It slips up the shank of the hook and has two small rubber arms with pockets that you slip the rattles into.

Line sounds

Andy Morgan on braided line:
Braided line definitely makes a sawing sound in grass or across wood, but I don't think it makes any difference. I imagine there are a lot of strange sounds that fish pick up under the water, and they don't get alarmed by them.

Jerkbaits

Chevy team pro Bryan ThriftAngler: Bryan Thrift
When to rattle: It depends on water color. Ninety percent of jerkbait bites are visual bites. The fish are going to see it from a long way off. If they can't see it, say if the visibility is less than 3 1/2 to 4 feet, I'll consider throwing a rattling jerkbait. Also, certain conditions call for rattling jerkbaits, such as a lot of wind, when it's overcast or any time water visibility is affected.
Nonrattling: Lucky Craft Pointer 95 SilentWhen Not To rattle: If the water is clear - say, 10 to 12 feet of visibility - it's better to use a non-rattling jerkbait. If you're fishing a jerkbait in cold water, you're going to let it suspend for 15 or 20 seconds at a time anyway, so rattles don't really come into play much when you're dead-sticking.
Rattling: Megabass Vision 110Bottom line: Let water or weather conditions dictate. However, all bets are off when it comes to smallmouths. If they're aggressive and see and hear a lure at the same time, they don't stop and think about it too much before they commit. I'll use rattling and nonrattling jerbaits for them - whatever it takes.

Diving crankbaits

Castrol team pro David DudleyAngler: David Dudley
When to rattle: When the water is super muddy, I'll go with a rattling crankbait - maybe white or chartreuse sides with a black back. Beyond that, some days the fish want a multi-rattle version, and some days they want the one rattle. I let them tell me what they want. And it might change from day to day.
Nonrattling: Strike King KVD 1.5 Squarebill SilentWhen not to rattle: The rest of the time. I've never heard shad rattling when they're swimming through the water.
Rattling: Bomber Fat Free ShadBottom line: I do believe in rattles in muddy water, but it's not like you're faced with muddy situations all the time. Also, what I consider muddy, somebody else might consider clean, or vice versa. A lot of fishing is just a bunch of applied opinions. There really is no way to home in on one thing that works all the time in a certain situation.

Lipless crankbaits

Evinrude team pro Dan MoreheadAngler: Dan Morehead
When to rattle: Prespawn in grass or off-color, dirty water. Sometimes rattling baits can trigger bites in cold water better than nonrattling baits.
Nonrattling: Damiki Tremor 65When not to rattle: I found that rattling baits don't work as well in very clear water, where generally it's best to be stealthier. Also, nonrattling baits are better in highly pressured areas.
Rattling: Bill Lewis Rat-L-TrapBottom line: There's so doggone many different rattling crankbaits now. Some have one BB, some are full of tungsten weights, some have a few weights, some have bigger weights - and they all work at times. Some days it's a matter of throwing a lipless crankbait that's different from what everybody else seems to be throwing. Fish will show different preferences from one day to the next, and when you're fishing it's a good idea to have lipless crankbaits that make different sounds, or no sounds at all.

Topwater lures

Fatheadz team pro Jacob WheelerAngler: Jacob Wheeler
When to rattle: Most of the time, fishing is all about getting their attention - getting them to look at a lure and then go after it. A rattling topwater will call fish up from deep water, or when they're holding in brush piles or other cover. So I throw a rattling lure about 90 percent of the time, usually in the form of a No. 11 Rapala Skitter Walk.
Nonrattling: Heddon Zara SpookWhen not to rattle: By the end of summer bass have seen just about every kind of rattling topwater there is. That's when I change up and show them something without rattles. A lot depends on fishing pressure.
Rattling: Rapala Skitter WalkBottom line: When bass are feeding on shad and busting all over the surface, you have to make a commotion that will get their attention. That's prime time for a rattling topwater.

Texas/Carolina rigs

Rayovac team pro Jason ChristieAngler: Jason Christie
Carolina rig: I don't think you can improve on a tungsten weight and a glass bead.
Texas rig: an XCalibur worm weight and a glass rattle weight that can be inserted into the plastic
When to rattle: My rule of thumb is that the dirtier the water, the more sound I want.
When not to rattle: I don't use rattles if I'm fishing somewhere that's getting a lot of fishing pressure. In those cases, I want the lure to appear as natural as possible.
Bottom line: I might go down a bank with a rattling bait and catch fish, then turn around and go back with a nonrattling bait and catch fish. To me, there aren't many situations where it has to be one way or the other. Nothing's set in stone.

Pitch-perfect rattle sounds

Jason Christie on types of rattles:
Tungsten weights have a louder rattle, but lower pitch. Regular BBs have more of a high pitch. To me the lower pitch is a more realistic sound, but sometimes the fish want something else. Try different things until you find what works the best.

Tags: colin-moore  magazine-features  gear 

/tips/2017-12-14-flw-podcast-171-sheldon-collings

FLW Podcast 171 - Sheldon Collings

READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-13-tour-rookie-miles-howe

Tour Rookie: Miles Howe

California’s Miles Howe is the latest Costa FLW Series Western Division standout to take his shot at the FLW Tour READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-12-2018-flw-tour-roster

2018 FLW Tour Roster

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the complete professional angler roster for the upcoming 2018 FLW Tour season, the 23rd season of the FLW Tour. The 2018 FLW Tour features seven regular-season tournaments around the country with competition kicking off when FLW returns to Lake Okeechobee, Jan. 25-28 in Clewiston, Florida, and is headlined by the world championship of bass fishing, the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita, Aug. 10-12 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-12-gift-ideas-for-every-angler

Gift Ideas for Every Angler

Picking out a holiday gift for an angler can be a pretty tough task if you aren’t intimately familiar with their fishing needs, but it’s not impossible. Almost any of the below would be worthy gifts, and with a little tweaking they might be adaptable for someone who is particularly difficult to shop for. If none of the below fit the bill or budget, then there’s always the old standby of a Tackle Warehouse gift card, which will be appreciated by any angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-11-the-most-memorable-fish-of-2017

The Most Memorable Fish of 2017

The single most memorable fish of the 2017 FLW Tour season might have been caught at the first tournament of the year, when Mark Rose made one last cast and caught a 6-pounder to best Bryan Thrift at the opener on Guntersville. Of course, there were thousands of other bass hooked the rest of the season, so it’s not like Rose’s fish stands alone. The following fish are the ones that are still stuck in the minds of Tour pros – for both good reasons and bad. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-07-jay-kendrick-q-a

Jay Kendrick Q&A

I don’t want to come off cocky or overconfident, but I don’t remember having that feeling like I’d made it or anything. I never doubted I would. It was just a matter of time. Just like I have no doubt I’ll win an FLW Tour event. It’s just a matter of time, though I think that’s close. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-06-neko-rig-basics

Neko Rig Basics

The Neko Rig is a relatively new phenomenon in the bass community. Basically, it is a weighted version of a wacky rig with a weight inserted into just one end of the soft plastic, giving the bait a unique action as it falls and allows it to stand straight up once it hits the bottom. The rig is quickly becoming a staple for many bass pros and weekend warriors alike for one reason – it puts fish in the boat. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-06-how-do-you-value-yourself-

How Do You Value Yourself?

The most common questions I get from aspiring fishermen are about how to obtain sponsors and the industry norms when it comes to negotiating deals with them. All are great questions, but there are no simple answers. That’s because there is no right or wrong approach. Every professional goes about it differently. I’d like to give you my thoughts on the subject. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-05-it-s-time-to-move-to-the-front

It’s Time to Move to the Front

Fishing with some of the greatest pros in the West has been awesome. Sure, it’s been challenging at times, given that a co-angler’s fishing space is limited, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’ve made good friends with many of the FLW Series anglers and it’s been awesome learning from them. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-01-review-berkley-snap-jig

Review: Berkley Snap Jig

The Snap Jig appears to be a spinoff of the popular Rapala Jigging Rap and Snap Rap, which I mention not to knock Berkley for going the copycat route, but for background on why folks would get excited about a bait that looks more like ice fishing fodder than bass food. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-12-01-locating-winter-jerkbait-water

Locating Winter Jerkbait Water

Stay open minded. Although these tips will give you some good starting points, ultimately the fish are where you find them. Give an area 20 minutes or so, then move on. If they are not where they are supposed to be, try something off the wall. Keep an eye on your electronics when idling and running. Capitalize on opportunities as they arise. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-30-hollowell-s-1-2-umbrella-rig-punch

Hollowell’s 1-2 Umbrella Rig Punch

A half-dozen years ago, it was the hottest thing in the sport. Now, the umbrella rig is just another tool in bass anglers’ arsenal. Todd Hollowell is more than OK with that. Now that the multi-lure rigs have descended to the level of other ordinary bass options, there are times when he feels like he has them all to himself. And there are times when he makes them pay off in a big way. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-30-flw-podcast-170-cameron-gautney

FLW Podcast 170 - Cameron Gautney

READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-29-20-questions-with-michael-matthee

20 Questions with Michael Matthee

The 31-year-old is a longtime winner in the South African tournament circuits who has earned alpha status in his home country with a blend of undying determination, skill and versatility. Look no further than his meteoric rise in the first ever sanctioned FLW South Africa fish-off. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-28-more-family-less-fishing

More Family, Less Fishing

For me and my professional fishing career, the heart of the season lies in the first half of the year. Some would assume this leaves the second half wide open to just kick back, relax and catch some football games instead of fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-27-buddy-gross-q-a

Buddy Gross Q&A

I’ve never been one to watch all the tournaments on TV. I’m not a good spectator; I’d rather be actually fishing. Now my best friend and tournament partner, James Milling, he’s always watching them and keeping me informed. He shows up all the time with the latest and greatest fishing lures. He gets on me about it. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-24-5-proven-late-season-patterns

5 Proven Late-Season Patterns

Another year’s on its way out, but there’s still plenty of bass fishing left to do, and several seasonal patterns worth noting. So, amid those shortening days and declining temperatures, consider these late-season opportunities. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-22-be-a-tackle-tinkerer

Be a Tackle Tinkerer

One of the few benefits of living in Wisconsin and having long, miserably cold winters is I have a lot of time to mess with my tackle. One of my favorite things to do is to custom-build baits and rods. I’ve done it all – pouring my own lead, building spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, pouring plastics, hand-tying skirts and hair jigs, powder-coating, airbrushing, and most recently building my own rods. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-21-cranking-in-the-deep-and-cold

Cranking in the Deep and Cold

A lifetime of fishing offshore on Pickwick and other Tennessee River lakes has also taught him that while the fish will go shallow for the gizzard shad spawn in the fall, there’s usually a solid population that filters back offshore come September and October, schooling up in predictable spots just like they would in the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2017-11-20-scott-martin-s-video-series-in-africa

Scott Martin's Video Series in Africa

Back in October, 14 countries competed for the title of world champion at the XIII Black Bass World Championships on the Vaal River in South Africa. Among the competing nations was the United States, which made its first appearance at the event and was represented by an all-star lineup of hammers, including team captain Scott Martin, Scott Canterbury, David Dudley, David Fritts, James Watson, Fred Roumbanis, Mark Rose and Lionel Botha. Martin brought his media team along to produce a series of videos documenting the team’s journey throughout the competition. READ MORE »