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The Rebel Crawdad

In the rocky streams of northern Georgia, the fish speak in hallowed, reverent tones of "Mudbugus Horribilis", the bottom lure in the picture above. This lure is responsible for many a bass getting to share man's atmosphere for a brief period of time. I haven't named the lure on top, but I'm thinking "Grasshopper" is appropriate. "Patience, Grasshopper..."

    The Rebel Crawdad, officially called the Rebel Wee Crawfish, is a lure I call on only in certain situations, but those situations are ones in which I love to find myself. The Rebel Crawdad is my favorite non-topwater bait to use when wading shallow rocky areas in search of shoal, redeye, spotted, or smallmouth bass. This lure has been around forever, and I have yet to find a crankbait that imitates a crawdad as well as the Rebel. This lure is absolute murder in areas where crawfish are the likely prey, and the way it digs the bottom in a rattling frenzy, bouncing off rocks with pincers at the ready is irresistible to bass living in these areas. It also catches the heck out of trout, rock bass, and even big bream.

    I prefer the F76 model, a 2" floater-diver that will get down to about five feet in depth (even though Rebel claims they get down to seven feet). Rebel also makes a smaller model, the Teeny Wee Crawfish, that gets down to about three feet in depth. This smaller version provides tremendous fun on ultra-light tackle and will catch more fish, but usually they run a bit smaller. The brown colors with orange bellies are the most effective colors, but Rebel also has a few with chartreuse on the body that probably work really well when the water is stained. These crankbaits rarely run true right out of the box, so a little fine-tuning with a pair of needle-nose pliers is normally required to put them on the right track. To tune these or any other crankbait, simply bend the eye attached to the split-ring in the opposite direction from where the lure is running.

Best Seasons and Situations

    The Rebel Crawdad is effective anytime bass are present in shallower water, which is most of the year. I have read that there are times of the year when fish prey more heavily on crawfish than others, but I haven't noticed any changes in the seasonal effectiveness of this lure. I'm no expert on the seasonal cycles of crawfish and have no idea when they molt, I just know that bass have a hard time letting one swim by. While I have caught many largemouth bass on the Rebel Crawdad, it is rarely my first choice when  targeting this species simply because this lure is a tad small for bigger largemouths to go out of their way to catch. In fact, Rebel Crawdads are a better bet when you are unlikely to encounter anything over three pounds or so (for some reason, I have had trouble hooking larger fish on this lure). The Crawdad may be the best lure made for catching redeye bass, and shoal bass love them too, though I've never taken a really big shoalie on the lure. Spotted and smallmouth bass are often found in similar rocky, shallow haunts and will normally pulverize a Rebel Crawdad.

    As mentioned earlier, I use the Rebel Crawdad primarily when wading rocky areas for the types of bass that live there. These lures are also great fished from a moving boat in similar areas, though they are somewhat more prone to hang-ups than many other lures. I currently own two Crawdads, and I've had one of them for about three years. The reason I almost never lose one is that they normally get hung in less than five feet of water, which makes them easy to get back. Another reason is that the Rebel Crawdad is one of my primary wading lures, and you have to be pretty darn lazy not to go unsnag a lure when wading.

Tips and Techniques

This nice spotted bass was caught using a technique I call short-lining. The casting angle to the best spot was obstructed by the boulder I am sitting on. I simply climbed the boulder and laid there swimming the Rebel Crawdad through her lair. This fish hit three times before I finally caught her!!

    The Rebel Crawdad is a small lure (the model I use weighs in at 1/5 ounce) best thrown on light to medium spinning tackle. Most of the time. simply throwing it out and reeling it in at a moderate pace is the best way to retrieve it. Generally speaking, faster retrieves work best in faster water, but burning a Crawdad through a lazy pool sometimes results in savage strikes. While the Rebel Crawdad is designed to float at rest, it is virtually neutrally buoyant, and on tough days, a jerk and pause retrieve is often the only way to elicit a strike. 

    One really effective trick I have learned is to cast the lure downstream and allow it to hang in the current behind or next to rocks that I suspect might harbor a bass. This is especially effective if there is a pool or eddy within a few feet of where your lure is wobbling. Simply stop reeling and manipulate the Crawdad with your rod tip, making it struggle a few feet upstream and then fall back again. This technique can take a bit of patience, but it will be worth it when you see a nice fish dart out of it's lair and grab your lure.

    Another wading trick is what I call shortlining, and it's how I caught the nice spot in the picture. The area I was wading had lots of large boulders, and they blocked off the casting angles in some of the best holes. We were able to catch fish by sneaking up on the boulders from the upstream side (often climbing on top of the boulders) and simply dangling the Crawdad in the water with about 4 feet of line out and letting it swim around a bit. The fights were short and furious, and those fish were none too happy when they found out that this easy meal had a catch to it!


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