Ever since it’s introduction in the early 1980’s, the Rapala Shad Rap has been cherished by anglers chasing bass and most other gamefish as well.
A combination of materials (balsa & premium components), shape, and profile, gave the Shad Rap a tight wiggling action that mimics a wide variety of bait that triggers strikes when wide wobbling baits fail to do so. Add in the range of colors patterns and sizes and Rapala produced a lure to catch just about any fish that swims under a variety of conditions.
Though the Shad Rap catches bass any time of year, many bass anglers rely on it during the cold water period, from late fall through early spring.
As great as the Shad Rap is out of the box, a few modifications or tweaks can enhance the lure’s productivity in cold water when bass tend to be lethargic rather than aggressively feeding.
Since the body is constructed from balsa, the bait is highly buoyant and will quickly start to rise when the retrieve is stopped. In cold water situations, stop ‘n go and suspending retrieves often work better than baits that rise and can be key to triggering lethargic bass into striking.
Fortunately, several anglers have experimented with modifying Shad Raps to suspend rather than float by various weighting methods including:
- Up-sizing the hooks (typically one size from the stock hook sizes)
- Adding a split ring or snap to the line tie
- Adding weight to the hooks using wire, solder, tungsten putty
- Drilling a hole in the body between the front hook and bill and adding lead (risky since might damage lure)
- Adding suspend dots or strips to the belly of the bait
Typically the first step in adding weight is changing out the treble hooks for a larger size. On the two smaller size Shad Raps (#5 & #7), up-sizing the hooks is often all that’s needed to get the bait to suspend or rise very slowly. The larger sized baits however usually take a combination of weighting mods to offset the natural buoyancy of the Shad Rap.
Some experimentation and testing is required to verify weighting results but well worth effort when fishing the cold water period.
Here are a few links to videos by bass pro Mike “Ike” Iaconelli and YouTuber Smallmouth Crush that discuss their approach to weighting Shad Raps.
I hope you find these tips helpful…
Tight lines and full livewells!