One of the best times of year to fish vertically is by far during the winter. When the water starts dropping below 50 degrees and you’re looking to target the bass that are wintering deep, there’s two lures that really come into play. A blade bait (like a Silver Buddy or Sonar) and a Rapala Jigging Rap. One of the biggest mistakes people make with a blade bait is that they move the bait too far off the bottom. It’s usually a game of inches, not feet. Smaller movements tend to get a better reaction from wintering bass. There’s an expression called “burping the blade” and all it means is to just lift your rod tip up until you feel the bait vibrate like a burp and the stop and feel it back down to the bottom. Many strikes come on the drop so pay attention to your line. If it stops before you stop it, set the hook.
The Jigging Rap is such a great tool because it will actually swim off to the side when you let it fall. I know a lot of ice fishermen who like to use a Jigging Rap through the ice for that reason. A lure drifting towards the face of a bass will often invoke a reaction strike and that’s what makes a Jigging Rap such and effective tool when fishing vertically.