By Jerry Miller

Outdoor Columnist

When you need to cover a lot of water effectively in a short time, no other bait seems to do a better job than a Nichols Rattle Shad.

There are several manufacturers who produce lipless crank baits, like Rat-L-Trap, Strike King’s Diamond Shad, Cotton Cordell’s Super Spot, etc. All of these will catch fish, but each one has its own characteristics. I’ve caught bass on all these lures, but I keep coming back to the Nichols Rattle Shad simply because I keep catching bass on this lure.

One of the main characteristics of the Nichols Rattle Shad that makes it a deadlier lure is the two sound chambers. In the front chamber is a triangle head weight that emits a low clack-clack sound. The rear chamber has BB’s that emit a high pitch sound.

All the other brands only employ BB’s. The Rattle Shad goes down head first, and you have more control over this bait. Other baits fall in an unnatural way.

Nichols uses quality Gamakatsu hooks and stainless steel split rings, not the nickel-plated kind that a big bass can strip out. The Gamakatsu hooks bend back inward making it much harder for the fish to throw the bait.

If you fish in tournaments like I do, you want a bait you can rely on to get the job done.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with one of Nichols’ newest designs which is unlike any lipless crank bait I’ve ever seen. Nichols calls it shattered glass.

When you hold this lure up to the sunlight, it sparkles like a multi-colored diamond. Best of all, the bass really love it.

A bait like the Nichols Rattle Shad has no seasonal boundaries. You can fish it year around. There are countless ways to fish a lipless crank bait, but probably one of the most popular and productive way is to burn the bait back to the boat.

A lot of the pros prefer to use a 7-foot fiberglass rod. I prefer a 6 1?2 -foot rod because it’s more comfortable for me to throw. A fiberglass rod is more flexible, making it harder for fish to throw the bait when they go airborne.

Probably the best thing ever made for lipless crank baits is the high speed reel. But there’s more to it than just reeling your bait back real fast.

The real key with this gear ratio reel is that you have a variable speed control reel.

You can really feel the bait with this type of reel. You can slow it down and speed it up without loosing any feeling. It’s important to maintain control when you run a crank bait just over the tope of a brush pile or grass.

Most of the time you can use 14 to 17-pound test line. If you’re fishing real clear water you might want to drop down to 10-pound line. It pays to experiment, especially if the bass are finicky.

At times you have to employ very unusual tactics to get reluctant bass to strike. I’ve heard of pros who make repeated casts to boat docks – as many as 25 casts to the same dock before they get a strike.

Now that’s persistence! Others simply make short pitch casts under docks. Now that’s something the bass haven’t seen!

I haven’t seen many schooling bass on Lake Jacksonville this year. The main reason, I believe, that there are not more bass schooling is because there are not enough shad for bass to school on. On Lake Palestine I can see tons of shad on my graph. On Lake Jacksonville I can’t find any concentrations of shad. I spoke to biologist Richard Ott in Tyler about this potential problem. He said it will be next fall before they do a survey on the bait fish population.

When I do find bass schooling, I often catch good size bass throwing my Nichols Rattle Shad. Again, I recommend using the new shattered glass design. I like the blue back and purple back designs.

It pays to do your homework when choosing lures. Almost any lure will catch bass when they are really feeding. I want a quality bait that will produce under tougher conditions.

Lipless crank baits are very popular and will be around a long time.

Fall is one of the best times to fish these baits, since bass are keying on shad.

When you see a lot of shad in the area you are fishing, you had better have one of these baits tied on.

Miller can reached at: gonefishing813@peoplepc.com

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