A Louisiana bass fishing pro getting ready for his fifth season on the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail said there’s no question about one of the artificial lures he’ll nearly always be throwing when the bass and the money are on the line in 2014.

“I mean, everybody pretty much knows it’s going to be a crawfish,” Dennis Tietje said.

Tietje had just returned from his deer-hunting camp during the holidays and obliged a question about one of the favorite artificial lures in his tacklebox, a confidence bait.

“I’m going to keep three baits on no matter what — a small crankbait (red KVD Square Bill), a (Strike King) Rage Craw and a small (Strike King) spinnerbait,” the angler from Roanoke said. “Even though I may not rely (full-time) on the soft plastic, I tend to throw some type of crawfish bait 60- to 70-percent of the time.”

Sure, there will be other artificials tied on other fishing rods and at the ready while he’s prefishing or during a tournament, but the one artificial lure he usually uses 25 percent of the time — 50 percent of the time in early spring — is the Rage Craw.

Strike King’s soft-plastic crawfish imitation is ideal for finding and catching bass, he said.

“Considering the high number of lures we have in our arsenal, that’s a big percentage,” Tietje said. 

The 4-inch-long Rage Craw is a go-to bait for several reasons, said the 49-year-old outdoorsman who grew up fishing the Mermentau River, the Sabine River system and other waters in Southwest Louisiana, as well as Toledo Bend, where the Elite series will stop in early May.

“What I’ve found being in tournaments — bass eat crawfish across the country,” Tietje said.

As a result, he said, the Rage Craw is “very, very effective in locating fish” in muddy or clear water.

“One thing about the Rage Craw (is) it moves a lot of water,” he said. “Anywhere across the South, rivers, we rely on movement. We’re flippin’ a lot, and the best thing to flip with is the predominant food source, which is crawfish.

“By using the crawfish, I can cover a lot of water. I swim the crawfish a lot. I’m relying on pinchers a lot to send off vibrations. Basically, I can use that like a slow-moving spinnerbait and still get into confined spaces whether flippin’ hyacinths or cypress trees or logjams.”

Doing that helped him notch his highest Elite Series finish ever in a tournament when he was 12th last year on the Sabine River. He was 1 pound off the lead going into the final day despite a first-day mishap when his lower unit hit a submerged object and effectively knocked him out of a full day’s fishing.

Tietje finished 54th overall on the Elite tour in 2013. His goal is to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic in 2014, a berth he narrowly missed last year.

Kevin Van Dam’s roommate on the road knows the Rage Craw will play an important role in his bid to reach the Classic. Tietje always Texas-rigs it with a 3/0 hook, either a Trokar or a Bass Pro Shops EWG, and most of the time fishes it under a ¼-ounce worm weight.

If he is flippin’ it in heavy vegetation, that requires a ½- or 1-ounce worm weight, he said.

If he fishes it in muddy water, a majority of the time he’ll add a glass bead between the hook and the worm weight.

“It adds to the movement and adds to the sound, that click that crawfish make,” he said.

His favorite color is green pumpkin or green pumpkin/pearl, one of the new laminated color recently introduced by Strike King.

Much of the time if he’s probing muddy water he’ll tip the pinchers in a different color, such as chartreuse “to give it a little flash.”

There are more laminated colors in the line, particularly some with a little more orange to them. And, as one of the manufacturing company’s pro staffers, some newer colors and color combinations he suggested should be introduced this year at the ICAST in Florida.

“We’re just coming out with some new colors,” he said. “It’s exciting.”

Tietje said there’s no mistaking a bite when the bass take one of the bogus crawfish.

“Most of the time, it’s a pretty hard bite,” he said. “They hit real aggressively, especially in muddy water.”

For more information on Rage Craw and other Strike King Lure Co. products, call 901-853-1455 or go to www.strikeking.com.