The ever-famous Rapala Floating Minnow will always have a home on the shelves of tackle stores, but its sales sure have declined over the years. It was the go-to bait in the 1950s through the mid-70s, then faded as new baits and techniques were introduced. Then in the summer of 1983, a Missourian named Jimmy Crisp breathed life back into the bait with a technique new to those outside the Midwest. What was the technique? It’s called Crispin’.
Crisp not only breathed life back into the Floating Rapala, he arguably brought to light one of the most important techniques in fishing. What we call today jerkbaiting.
But the technique back then wasn’t called jerkbaiting and the big floating Rapalas weren’t called jerkbaits. Those are relatively new terms. The angler who popularized it referred to the technique as Ripping and the big Rapala as a stickbait. But to everyone who fished the 1983 Western Bass $100,000 Invitational on Table Rock that summer, the technique would become known as Crispin’.
Crisp at the time had only fished 10 Bassmaster events along with several local Midwest tournaments. The $3,000 entry fee for the Western Bass Table Rock event was a tall order for a guy who hadn’t won more than $3,000 fishing before. But he felt he had a chance.
What transpired opened up a completely new form of fishing for the masses – anglers and industry both. Within a month, Magnum 18 Rapalas were in high demand and commanding a premium price. New rods were designed for the new technique as were new baits. Crispin took the bass world by storm.
What’s interesting about the technique is over the years it’s morphed into a science of its own. There are jerkbaits of every size, weight, and color. But the technique has primarily become a finesse technique using light line. Another change over the years is most anglers have switched to using only suspending baits.
Crisp and his fellow Missouri anglers used floating baits and heavy line. Think about that. The fish for the last 20 years have been conditioned to suspending baits. The action of a floating bait is very different than a suspending bait and when paused, instead of staying at depth, the bait abruptly begins to rise. That’s something the fish haven’t seen in years from the vast majority of anglers.