With PAA’s 2012 Neely Henry Champion Fred Roumbanis
Story by Russ “Bassdozer” Comeau
“One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to snap a lipless crankbait and I absolutely love to throw the Ima Rock N Vibe this time of year,” says PAA pro Fred Roumbanis. “That’s how I ended up doing very good at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe, Texas(Sept. 28-30, 2012).”
Fred ended up tenth in the TTBC world championship largely because on the second day, he caught several really good fish by snapping a lipless crankbait in a shoreline pocket where the bait was balled up during a cold front.
Seek the Pockets
Being able to stay on the fish like he did that second day is absolutely critical and more difficult to do in the fall than during other seasons.
“Depending on the different weather patterns that pass through in the fall, fish will move back and forth a lot. They are constantly on the move. It is hard to stay on the same fish consistently over several days. That’s the biggest challenge of fall fishing – to be able to track the fish and stay on them throughout the day and from day to day,” admits Fred.
Some of the locations where Roumbanis likes to start his daily search for fall bass are in the backs of the coves and pockets. The water in these areas usually stays warmer than the rest of the lake or river, attracting baitfish that attract bass.
Now, it’s common knowledge that the backs of coves, creeks and pockets are always good places to catch fish in the fall, but Roumbanis takes it one step further. Fred seeks out the “spot in the spot” – meaning flatter banks in the backs with steeper banks that lead to those flat areas or creek channels that lead to those flats. They’re the prime real estate.
How to Snap a Lipless
Most anglers have never snapped a lipless. Typically, anglers reel them steadily or try yo-yoing them a little, but Roumbanis says he gets way more bites by just snapping the 1/2 oz Ima Rock N Vibe off the bottom.
It’s almost like working a spoon in deep water offshore, except that Roumbanis prefers doing this in shallow water anywhere from one foot to maximum eight feet deep.
He lets the lipless sink to the bottom, snaps it up off the bottom and lets it sink back down to make contact with the bottom again.
Because of his fairly shallow approach, Roumbanis likens this presentation to hopping a flipping jig – and when the strike comes, it feels like a jig bite most of the time.
“When it drops, watch the slack in your line because when they hit it, you’ll just see your line jump. When you snap it up cleanly, it’ll just get tight at the top of the snap or the line will go slack or start moving to the side; and after you pop it off grass or bottom debris, as it comes free, it will just get tight like you’re snagged again – except it’s a fish,” explains Fred. “They’ll hit it on the bottom too. You’ll notice the Rock N Vibe has a flat, wide bottom under its nose, and this helps it land so it actually stands up on the bottom – and fish will pluck it off the bottom at times too.”
Again, this is using a lipless crankbait in a way that a lot of anglers overlook. Roumbanis is an Ima pro staffer and he’s found that the Rock N Vibe is perfect for this technique. Don’t hesitate to try other lipless crankbaits to determine whether they work this way too. You won’t know unless you try them. However, if you notice that a particular model is fouling your line, snagging excessively or simply not attracting strikes when used this way – switch to another model until you find one that works best for you this way.
In terms of lure color, Roumbanis emphasizes that chrome blue can be a great color at this time of year – and in dirty water, fire tiger or something with a lot of chartreuse in it.
Rod, Reel, Line, Hooks
Fred snaps his lipless on fluorocarbon line because he doesn’t like a lot of stretch for this, so he uses 12 lb P-Line Fluorocarbon on an iRod Air model #754 7’5″ 4-power medium heavy baitcasting rod.
For a reel, he prefers an Ardent Edge 6.5:1 ratio, which is a moderate speed reel. Fred feels the gear ratio of that reel keeps the tension just right on the bait so you can feel the maximum vibration of the lipless crankbait with this reel.
It’s unavoidable that you’ll get hung up some in grass or debris when making bottom contact with a treble-hooked lipless crankbait. Snagging isn’t always a bad thing however. “Don’t be afraid of getting snagged up. If the fish are in the grass, you’re going to get most of your strikes when you rip your lipless out of the grass, because when a baitfish is fleeing, that sudden bolt is what triggers fish to attack it,” states Fred. “There are going to be schools of shad all over the place during the fall, but when fish sense something out of the normal and something that’s in distress, that’s what’s going to trigger those fish to bite.”
One last thing is that Roumbanis always changes his hooks out to bronze Gamakatsu EWG’s. He says, “The nice thing about them is they’re ridiculously super-sharp. If the fish just breathe on them, they get hooked, but when you get hung up, the hooks will bend out a little so you can get your bait back instead of breaking it off.” He uses size 4’s in front and back and credits the 12 lb P-Line Fluorocarbon with being so strong and so hard to break that the hooks will bend out first. “It’s not any one part but the entire set-up that makes snappin’ lipless work so well,” concludes Fred.
The Ima Rock N Vibe and some other products mentioned in this story are available at Tackle Warehouse. Please click here whenever you shop there:
Thank you and good luck fishing.