When I first started fishing, spinning gear was what I used for everything. Later on I used bait casters for crankin, throwin blades, and flippin, but I still used spinning tackle for the rest of my fishing. Ok, for those that don’t know what rippin is; it’s a method using big ripp baits and making big, long sweeps with a spinning rod. Think of it as using a fluke with two treble hooks. The beauty of this technique is that you can cover lots of water and draw fish from long distances to strike the baits. Now on the retrieve give the rod back to the fish; the bait has to stop in the water. And really, the key to rippin'--besides location and bait style--is the rhythm. How you work the bait is what triggers the fish to bite. Play around with different retrieves, stop and go, twitching and dead sticking. For rippin', the conditions I like best are wind, clouds, and low-pressure weather events. That’s not to say you can’t catch them during other situations, because you can. Always give it a good effort no matter what the day is like weather-wise.
The baits I throw are mostly Lucky Crafts Pointer’s the 100 and the smaller 78 and Daiwa's T D Minnow. The Lucky Craft Pointers are great for casting in the wind because they have a weight forward system allowing them to be cast a mile. I don’t like the countdown type ripp baits because I don’t want them to sink. There’s lots of good jerk baits on the market that both float or suspend, such as the Husky Jerks, the Bomber Long A, Smithwick Rogue, and the Original Rapala. I also use a feathered treble hook (long feathers) on the back. Be sure to use a good hook the same exact size as what's already on the bait. This is very important because hook size can affect the action of the lure. The feathered hook gives the bait a bigger profile and, hopefully, attracts bigger fish. Concerning the hooks that come with the baits I prefer change them out to the next size larger with Gamakatsu EWG trebles. However, use caution in changing out hooks as you don’t want a hook on your bait that will alter the baits original action as I mentioned earlier.
Most people like to ripp with a fiberglass or composite bait casting rod and a reel loaded with mono. The reasoning was a soft rod and mono would increase your hook up ratio and keep the fish from pulling off. There’s been a move recently by a number of Pro’s to go the opposite direction using graphite rods and fluorocarbon line which has little stretch. This allows the baits to react quickly to the jerks with the rod tip.
Here is what I use for ripping and why I use it. The reel is a Shimano Sradic 2500, the rod is a Dobyns 7' Savvy Series medium action spinning rod, and the line is 14 lb. Berkley Fireline. To this day most guys don’t like Fireline or any other non-stretch line for ripping.
The reason I like this set up is the fish that I target rippin are in shallow water and tend to be on the spooky side. So I make really long casts to these fish and that’s where the no stretch line comes into play. I'm able to hook these fish up as far as 30 yards away, and then I back off my drag and let my rod do the shock absorbing. The majority of the fish are hooked up solid. Keep an eye on your line for wear and trim it back if you see any fraying.
I use this rig for top-water and throwing spooks. The Fireline floats which keeps the bait riding high. The same theory about long casts applies in these cases. This method of fishing these baits goes against the grain of what we've been taught; it helped me catch my personal best 14.63 lb. bass.
Here’s the story. Spring was in the air on Folsom Lake, California; my home water at the time. The fishing was slow that day but we expected they would bite after the sun got up a little. After making what seemed like hundreds of casts with the LC Pointer, I was considering going to another method to see if I could get the fish fired up. Rippin can be very tiring and my wrist was screaming STOP, but I had a feeling. So I kept at it, ripp, ripp, pause, and BAM; my first fish on the Pointer, a chunky 3 pounder. The fish were starting to move around and get more active. I proceeded to catch fish, not lights out, but steady. I made a long cast to a sandbar that had huge rocks on both sides, the water at this time was very clear. I could see my Lucky Craft Pointer a mile away and two shadows appear behind it. My adrenalin is starting to pump, will they commit? Looking through my sunglasses it was like watching a movie where you don’t know the ending. Then it happens, the smaller fish, wouldn’t you know, took a swipe and hooked up. She came unbuttoned instantly. My first reaction was to get mad and stop working my bait. I continued to ripp the LC even harder and the fish god’s reward me with the bigger fish snapping up the bait. Fish on!!!! She was in open water so it was just a matter of fighting her to the boat. We took a few pictures weighed her, got the measurements and released the big girl to fight another day.
Barker's 14.63 pound bass
Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, experiment with different ideas to catch fish. Give the spin rippin technique a try and see how it can help you catch spooky shallow fish. You never know you may catch the fish of a lifetime.