Like baseball and apple pie, lipless crankbaits like Rat-L-Traps are part of a fishing tradition spanning decades. Originally pigeon-holed as bass lures, the rattle and vibration that makes them irresistible to largemouths also draws attention from saltwater predators like redfish.

Now the hallmark bait of Bill Lewis’ career as a lure designer, the Rat-L-Trap was one in a box full of prototypes that Lewis was experimenting with in the late 1960s. While other lipless crankbaits were on the market, Lewis’ model was the first to incorporate a concept that took the fishing world to a new level: a rattle chamber filled with BBs. 

Other than a color pallet that includes most every hue and pattern an angler could ask for, the Rat-L-Trap has remained relatively unchanged and still enjoys the same success as its humble beginnings. The reasoning is simple; fish can only see, smell and sense vibration within a relatively short distance,  but sound travels faster and farther underwater; a redfish wearing nose plugs can find a Rat-L-Trap in chocolate milk.

“I grew up bass fishing,” said guide Mitchell Blake of Chocowinity, N.C. “The Rat-L-Trap was a bait I used primarily for freshwater fishing, and it worked. So I took that to the saltwater world and started out using it for big drum. I saw how well it worked and the areas it worked in. The following year, I matched a smaller size Rat-L-Trap to the smaller-class drum, and it was phenomenal.

“There are different ways you can fish it, and it works different ways,” said Blake (252-495-1803). “If fish are aggressive, I simply throw it in the mouth of a ditch and reel it in. If I’m working a straight, drop-off shoreline, I’ll try to