UK Lure Angling - Lipless Crankbaits

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UK Coarse lure angling is pretty unique with smaller waters, often crowded, and mainly shore angling.  Here are some suggestions for making good use of lipless crank baits (vibrating baits) in these conditions.

What are they:  When we think of crankbaits, we usually think of a design similar to the Big S with a torpedo shaped body and some sort of diving lip on the front.  Lipless crankbaits are a little different and really fit better into a groups best called "vibrating lures".  They are made of plastic and produce an intense, tight vibration when retrieved. Most have a built-in "sound chamber" filled with rattle-producing shot. These lures sink and can be fished in deep or shallow water.

The Cotton Cordell Spot® is the latest in a line this company
has been making for over 30 years.  They were one of the first                           The Rattlin Rapala® is a similar lure although designedvibration.
commercial companies to make this style of lure. 3D eyes and                            for slower vibration and a somewhat softer rattle.
a spot somewhere on the body are a trademark.                                         


The lure is very streamlined and can be cast a long distance and knocked off most objects without hanging up. The shape and line attachment point are designed so they run in a slightly nose-down attitude and when they hit a rock or stump or other solid object, the usually bounce over it without the hooks getting caught.  However, they do tend to be weed magnets so are best used in more open water or along the outer edge of a weed bed.  Most will sink at a steady one foot per second so if you know the water depth, you can cast out and count then begin your retrieve just before the lure hits bottom.  It should run at basically that same depth as long as the rod is held near the water.

Predator fish can locate the lure at quite a distance using their lateral line to "hear" the vibration and can home in on it until close enough to see the lure and strike.  In really cloudy water, they can even locate it completely by sound as long as you maintain a steady speed.  An occasional additional sound as the lure bumps into and over obstructions seems to excite preds even more; probably because a healthy fish will not hit obstructions so the lure is sensed as an injured prey and easier to catch.

What rod & line:  The lipless crank bait is a reaction lure so takes will be solid and easily felt and any rod & reel that can cast the lure will be fine. This is one case where the sensitivity of carbon is of no benefit and indeed, a good e-glass rod might be better.  What you do need is a good balance between rod stiffness and line stretch so that the shock of a fish taking the lure won't cause problems.  If your rod is fairly stiff, you need mono because of the stretch that will cushion the strike.  If your rod is limber, you will do better with one of the braid super-lines like PowerPro that do not stretch.  If you fish fairly deep water (15 feet or more) you should consider fluorocarbon line since it is heavier than water and will tend to sink, allowing the lure to run several feet deeper than otherwise.  Flourocarbon lines are low stretch so a reasonably limber rod is best.

Wire trace:  If you fish where there are pike, you should absolutely use a wire trace.  Since the lure is designed to move at all times and the vibrating action prevents a fish from getting a really clear look at it, wire is unlikely to put off any perch or zander that are in a feeding mood.  A good 49 strand wire will allow the best lure action.


  • Best used for actively feeding fish.  While there will always be a few even in mid-winter, the lure produces best from Spring through Autum.
  • Fish with either a steady retrieve or with brief (1 second or so) pauses.
  • Try varying speeds from slow to as fast as you can crank to find what the fish want right then.
  • Use fast current to keep the lure active without needing a fast retrieve.
  • Try replacing the front or both treble hooks with a circle hook to make the lure more 'weedless'.
  • If you use braid, carry a smooth stick (piece of broom handle works well) and if you get hung, wrap the line around the stick when you pull to free the lure.  It will save both your hands and your reel.
  • To target zander and chubb, try lures in the 3-6 cm lengths.  For pike, the larger lures of 7+ cm will be better.

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