Reef Runner lures are synonymous with fishing in Lake Erie, dating back to the days when if you weren’t pitching a weight-forward spinner and giving it a 12 or 15 count before starting your retrieve, you just weren’t in the game. Next came the Cicada to jig up those pre-spawn ‘eyes on the reefs between Port Clinton and West Sister and that morphed into the namesake Reef Runner and Ripstick “crankbaits.” I put the quotes on crankbaits because both of these lures were designed more for trolling than cranking. The cranking only came when turning your reel handle to crank in the walleye hook-locked to the Reef Runner you’d been towing behind your planer boards.

Plenty of Lake Erie fans have successfully transported their arsenal of Reef Runner lures to other lakes (both Great and smaller) to catch walleyes and most every other predator fish at one time or another. It was only natural for the Reef Runner team to paint up some of their Lake Erie rooted lures with colors more popular for other species in other places than for their walleye rich home waters.

It was a successful ploy. For me, early season coho in southern Lake Michigan are my “most caught” crankbait fish. When I got a supply of RR Ripshads (both 200 and 400 series) in the Hot Tamale, Flame and Goldfish colors in late winter, they had me longing for Indiana’s spring coho spree to get underway.

I found the 200 Series perfectly sized for March and early April fish when the fish are smaller and the water still very cold.   Once the water hits the mid-40s, a switch to the larger, 400 series paid off. Both of these sizes are capable of diving down to walleye depths with ample amount of line deployed, so I paid attention to the amount of line I put out behind the planer tether. I often set them with only 20 feet of stretch to keep them in the top seven or eight feet of the water column where the most active fish are often found.

Widely available in retail stores, you can also purchase them online at as well as other online outlets.

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