Pro Pointer – Mark Menendez’ Rage Craw Etoufee

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story by Elite Series pro Mark Menendez and photos courtesy Mark Menendez and by Dan O’Sullivan

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A Strike King Rage Craw Etoufee

Anywhere in the southern states, anglers are likely to find good times along the water’s edge.   A giant iron pot boiling the dinner, good music, and friendship are always found close together.  Whether you call them crawfish, craw daddy’s, or baby lobsters, they abound in the words of “Let’s Eat”!  This must be the same reason the bass like them too!

A soft plastic crawfish imitator has been around in the fishing world for a long time.  Early on, anglers recognized the fact that bass will feed on a crawfish at any opportunity.  A multitude of shapes and sizes of plastic bottom walking creatures can be found in tackle boxes across North America.  Over angling history, specific sized baits have become a standard size for the crayfish.  The four-inch version has become the leading size crawfish bait produced.  This crawfish is a real fish catcher. The shape is usually a thick body with claws or claw-like imitators on the body to move water.

The Strike King Rage Craw is a very versatile crawfish replica.  It has the profile of the real thing.  Its functionality exceeds what a real crawfish can do!  The Rage Craw comes in the standard four-inch size. It also has a little finesse brother called the Baby Rage Craw.  This dynamic duo of crawfish, possess the appendages that create water movement.  The claws start a swimming motion with the slightest movement of the rod tip.  The flanged edge of the claw moves enough water for a bass to find this plastic crawfish on a deep piece of structure or in the thickest treetop in dingy water.

Rigging the Appetizer
The Flippin’ presentation is the best shallow water method for the Rage Craw.  A 7’6” Team Lew’s Flippin’ rod matched with a Lew’s Tournament Pro reel is the standard  type combo for shallow water crawfishing.  The reel should be a 7.1:1 gear ratio reel to take up slack line when the bass takes the bait.

A Texas rigged craw is a very efficient setup to penetrate heavy cover.  Slide a Tour Grade Tungsten Sinker up the line and  tie 20 to 25-pound-test  Seaguar InvisX line to a 4/0 or 5/0 straight shank hook. The straight shank hook will insure better hook ups with the Texas rig while flipping.  The bass may take the bait and streak away from the cover, and a hook like a straight shank is in the “ready to hook position” at all times.

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Mark Menendez with a Suwanee Bass Caught on a Bitsy Bug and Baby Rage Craw

Anglers must inspect their crawfish at the time of rigging. It is imperative to rig the lure straight on the hook to create the right presentation.  On the occasion a bulky profile of a jig is needed to appeal to larger bass, a Rage Craw is the system match jig trailer.

Many bites will never be felt and for that reason, you need the best line you can get.  Fluorocarbon line will transmit the lightest bite, and Seaguar InvisX line is abrasion resistant for heavy cover applications.

Bottom Dweller
The reservoirs across the country are getting older, and as they age, the lakes tend to become clearer in nature.  Bass begin to use their sense of sight more as a predator.   This scenario pushes bass to deeper ambush points and associate more with structure.  The clearer water dictates a natural presentation like dragging a football jig.

Bass will not react to a jig that is jerked or hopped violently in clean water as well as a steady pull.  So, heavy Tour Grade Football Jigs, from 1/2 to one-ounce in weight, adorned with a Rage Craw as a trailer can be fished in deep water to catch numbers of bass during most seasons of the year.

For this application, utilize the same7’6” Lew’s rod and reel combo, but select lighter line.  An adjustment of the line size of the Seaguar InvisX to 12 to 17-pound-test line will allow the jig to get to the bottom for battle.  Use a sideways sweeping motion from the rod to move the jig slowly across the bottom.  The Rage claws on the bait will move as the bait is drug across the bottom.

The heavy weight of the jig will transmit the bottom composition up the line and through the rod to the angler; which is important to distinguish, as bass tend to like hard bottom areas of rock or shell on structure.

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Mark Menendez Battles a Kentucky Lake Bass Caught on a Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig and Rage Craw

A Crawfish that Acts like a Shad?
In the fall, bass rely heavy on shad to feed up for the winter.  They will gorge themselves in preparation for the cold.  It is then that bass can be found shallow in the backs of the creeks, and keep a lookout for surface activity will give the location of the bass away.  At this time, using a white Strike King Tour Grade Swimming Jig paired with a white Rage Craw will mimic a shad.

Cast the Swimming Jig in to the area of surface activity. Holding the Flippin’ stick in an upward position, simply start winding the jig back to the boat. Anglers need to experiment with speed and add a little rod tip action to look like an injured shad. This can provoke strikes from bass when around thousands of baitfish.  Line is important here too, but go with a 30 to 50-pound-test  Kanzen Braided line that has no stretch to allow a fast hook set with maximum control.

Whatever anglers call them, crayfish imitators have earned the right to be in the tackle box. These three techniques will certainly let the good times roll on the waters edge!

Mark Menendez is a Bassmaster Elite Series Angler. You can follow him at Facebook, Twitter, and at www.Markmenendez.com.