If you want to become a better fisherman you’ve got to challenge yourself, according to Josh Jetter, Booyah ambassador and competitive bass angler. Step out of your comfort zone; explore and experiment; learn to fish unfamiliar techniques with lures you don’t normally use.

“I’m always looking for new and different ways to catch bass,” he said, “because I’m driven to become a well-rounded fisherman.”

What he means, of course, is to be the type of angler who achieves some measure of success despite whatever natural or manmade obstacles might get thrown in his path. His latest objective was to develop the skill to consistently catch cold-water bass on a lipless rattle bait.

“I know people who use them,” he said, “but I just hadn’t fished lipless cranks that much. Plus, they’re designed to trigger reaction strikes; just what you want for bass in cold water.”

With the next tournament season still on the horizon, Jetter has had time to experiment with the Booyah One Knocker — first, by watching the lure after casting it into a swimming pool. “I loved how it just shimmered as it fell through the water; and the unique ‘thump’ from its single tungsten rattle.”

The next step was to take the lure to a local pond where he fished from the bank. “Pretty soon my son and I started catching fish wherever we found hydrilla.” The key, he explained was to give the One Knocker a quick, hard snap when it touched the vegetation, then immediately let it fall again. Bass would crash the lure as soon as it started to sink. “They were complete and total reaction strikes,” he said.

From there Jetter moved to the lake where the lure’s ½-ounce, 2½-inch Rayburn Red version evolved into his go-to lure.

“I’ve been fishing it in water temp ranging from 42 to 52 degrees and just smashing them; the warmer the water, the better,” he said. “I find patches of hydrilla or grass with the Lowrance, position the boat about 15 yards from the edge and cast into the bed. Where there are green weeds, bass are there, too.”

Most often the best approach, he explained, is to let the lure flutter to bottom, reeling up until he feels the lure snag slightly, imparting a sharp, aggressive snap and immediately letting it fall again. The yo-yo retrieve continues until the lure exits the vegetation — or a bass attacks. “They almost always hit just as the starts to drop,” he said; “and sometimes as it settles after the cast.”

When bass don’t react to the high-energy tactic, though, Jetter can usually get them to take a swimming retrieve where the rattle bait just skims the weed tops. “The bass are averaging 4 pounds,” he said, “and I’ve been pretty impressed so far.”

OK, maybe you already have mad skills with a rattle bait. But if you make an honest assessment, you’re bound to find a weakness or two in your fishing program. The best way to overcome a weakness is to make a plan and attack it head-on. Just like Jetter does.