Rapala Shallow Shad Raps for This Fall

Rapala Shallow Shad Raps for This Fall thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

Last time we talked about soft plastic jerkbaits because they look like baitfish. This time I want to talk about a Rapala Shallow Shad Rap for the same reason — everything’s shallow and something that looks like a minnow will catch them.

But that doesn’t mean they jump in the boat. Let’s face it. Fall fishing can get tough. When that happens I switch my presentations to something a little different. In my world that means I downsize my lures and make absolutely sure they’re the same size as the forage. I’ll talk a little more about that in just a minute.

So, with that out of the way let’s get back to the Shallow Shad Rap…

Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Rapala Shallow Shad Rap

First off, I want to say something about the lip on this great lure. It’s kind of like a shovel. It comes straight down, off the nose and then bends straight out at a 90 degree angle. That gives it a super, lifelike action that no other lure can duplicate.

VMC Stainless Steel Split Ring
VMC Stainless Steel Split Ring

You can make this bait a little better, though, with a split ring or a clip on the nose. That gives it just a little more wiggle on the twitch which helps when the water is still warm. I use VMC Stainless Steel Split Rings or their Crankbait Snaps. Either one will do a good job.

After that I make a couple of other changes. I want slightly bigger hooks. They give the bait more weight and they help it come close to suspending when it stops. That’s important because it gives the fish time to look over everything before it strikes.

VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hook
VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hook

Once I’ve done that I make changes to the hooks. I replace the front hook with a #4 VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hook or with a #4 VMC Hybrid Short 1X Treble Hook. The hybrid model will sometimes give the bait a little more balance. I swap out the back hook with the same hook except that I go with a #5 back there.

I make long casts way past my target with a spinning rod and I use 6 or 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line. I twitch this bait back with long pauses.

Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line

Now, here’s the thing I wanted to say about size before. Most of the forage will be between 1 and 2 inches long, almost never more than 2 1/2 inches. That calls for a small bait so I go with a No. 5 size lure. It’s 2 inches long. Under these conditions I go with natural looking colors. If I had to pick just a couple, I’d say shad or silver.

But, there’s an exception to everything in fishing. Every so often you’ll run into a scenario where there are thousands of slightly bigger minnows all stacked up in the back of a cut, hollow or creek. The bass in those places become hypnotized to what’s going on around them. When that happens it’s impossible to match the hatch. I don’t even try.

What I do is upsize my Shallow Shad Rap to a No. 6 or a No. 7. They’re 2 3/4 inches long and 3 1/2 inches long respectively. I modify them exactly like I did my smaller lures but I go with the craziest, gaudy and sometimes just plain ugly colors I have with me. I don’t want something that looks like the real thing. I want something that stands out from the crowd.

Give one of these Shallow Shad Raps a shot this fall. You won’t regret it.

Soft Plastic Jerkbaits and Fall Bass

Soft Plastic Jerkbaits and Fall Bass thumbnail
Mike Iaconnelli

Some things just go together. They make a team. And that’s definitely true for soft plastic jerkbaits and fall bass — largemouth, smallmouth and spots.

Now’s the time when bass are moving shallow to take advantage of easy feeding on baitfish. So, when you think about it soft plastic jerkbaits are a natural. They look exactly like the real thing, they’re easy to rig, they’re affordable and they catch fish.

I’m going to share a few tips about how to rig them and make them even more effective than when they’re fished in the usual way. I developed these modifications in the mad scientist lab right here at my house, and I’ve tested them on real waters under real fishing conditions. They work.

Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon

My fall jerkbaits are always rigged with a braid to fluorocarbon line system. My braid is Berkley braid — they’re all super good — and my leader is Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. I usually go with 15 to 20-pound-test braid and 10 to 15-pound-test fluorocarbon.

But, I don’t tie them together with a knot-to-knot deal. I put a barrel swivel in between the two lines. It’s a big one, too. The swivel helps eliminate line twist and the extra weight helps with casting distance.

The final reason is that in really clear water the swivel looks like a tiny baitfish chasing something or being chased by something. I know you think I’m crazy when I say that, but I’m not. I spend a lot of time modifying rigs, lures and tackle. I’m telling you that’s what it looks like.

VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Worm hook
VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Worm hook

My hook is usually a 4/0 or a 5/0 offset worm hook. When I want the bait to fish down in the water I go with a heavy model like the VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Worm hook. When I want it to stay up near the surface I use a lighter model, something like a regular VMC Ike Approved Worm Hook.  When I want it to stay up near the surface I use a lighter model, something like a regular VMC Ike Approved Worm Hook.

I always Texas rig my minnow imitating jerkbaits. If I want my lure to ride up near the surface, I run the hook deep into the nose of the bait at least an inch. The eye is buried and the line runs through the plastic and straight out of the nose. The extra plastic makes the bait rise. If I want the bait to run deeper I rig it the standard way, about a quarter of an inch in. The eye is exposed.

VMC Sinker Stops
VMC Sinker Stop

When I’m having a problem with short strikes I rig my plastic jerkbait the usual way except that I put a VMC Sinker Stop (large) right through the point of the hook and run it about half-way up the shank of the hook. I then attach a #4 VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hook with one of the points straight up towards the belly of the lure.

VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hooks
VMC Short Shank Round Bend 1X Treble Hooks

I run that point into the plastic and slide the stop down to help keep it in place. This gives me two extra hook points curled up on the bottom of my bait. It’s a great little modification and it doesn’t do a thing to how the bait looks or acts in the water.

I fish the Berkley HAVOC The Jerk a lot of the time. But, another great choice is the Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flatnose Minnow. The 4-inch size is about right most of the time. The important thing is to match the hatch. If you look at all the offerings from Berkley, you’ll see something that’ll catch ‘em in your lake or river.

Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flatnose Minnow
Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flatnose Minnow

Like I said before, there isn’t a better fall lure than a soft plastic jerkbait. You can fish it on casting or spinning tackle. Don’t just fish it the usual way, though. Try some of the tricks I’ve talked about in this blog. You’ll catch more bass.
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