June 11, 2015
By Ned Kehde
Rapala introduced its new jerkbait, which they call the Shadow Rap, to the angling world during the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell and Greenville, South Carolina.
A jerkbait used to play a major role for scores of Midwest finesse anglers during the winter. For the past five winters, however, fewer and fewer Midwest finesse anglers have been wielding one.
Dan Quinn of Hudson, Wisconsin, and the Field Promotions Manager for Rapala, thought the Shadow Rap might ignite a jerkbait renaissance with Midwest finesse devotees. Quinn said Mark Fisher of Nowthen, Minnesota, who is the director of field promotions at Rapala, played a major role in its creation. Quinn described it as a subtle finesse bait. It was designed to sink slowly and to be retrieve with long pauses between the jerks or twitches that anglers execute with their rods. After each jerk or twitch, its forward movement is slight and delicate. It possesses a fixed-weighting system that allows it to quiver and fall slowly.
It is 4 1/2-inches long and weighs seven-sixteenths of an ounce. During a standard retrieve, it travels two to four feet below the surface. It is rigged with three VMC treble hooks. There is also a Shadow Rap Deep, which travels four to eight feet below the surface.
It is available in 14 colors: Albino Shiner, Blue Back Herring, Blue Ghost, Bone, Bud, Carbon, Clown, Ghost, Ghost Shiner, Moss Back Shiner, Olive Green, Purpledescent, Silver, and Yellow Perch.
It can be purchased for $8.99.
Quinn suggested that Midwest finesse anglers might appreciate reading what a couple of professional anglers who work for Rapala have to say about their experiences with the Shadow Rap. We thought it was a good idea, and we contacted Dave Lefebre and Bernie Schultz. We asked them nine questions about how they use the Shadow Rap.
Before we get to those questions and answers, here are two short profiles about these two anglers:
Lefebre resides in Erie, Pennsylvania. Many knowledgeable observers describe him as a first-rate angler. He is 44 years old and has been fishing a variety of tournament venues since 2001. In addition to his angling skills, he is a musician. His hardcore and successful tournament career began in 2003, when he started to compete on the Walmart FLW Tour and Bassmaster Top 150 Tours. He has also competed at Bassmaster Invitational events, Bassmaster Northern Opens, FLW Rayovac Series, the Bassmaster BASSfest, the Bassmaster Classic and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, which he won in 2009. He has qualified for the FLW Championship 11 times. In 2014, he garnered the FLW's Northern Rayovac Series Angler of the Year Award, and in 2006, he won the angler-of-the-year award in the FLW Series and FLW's Northern Everstart Series. Across the past 15 years, he has amassed more than 2.1 million dollars in tournament winnings.
Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Florida, is an ardent and accomplished fresh and saltwater angler. He has competed in a variety of tournaments throughout the United States and Canada since 1982. In that time, he has qualified for eight Bassmaster Classics, five FLW Tour Championships and won three national titles, and one of those wins involved the use of jerkbaits. By using his background in design and illustration, Schultz has helped Rapala develop a number of lures.
Here is a condensed and edited rendition of Lefebre's and Schultz's observations:
Q. What kind of rod, reel, and line do you prefer to use when you use the Shadow Rap?
Lefebre: I have caught hundreds of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on the Shadow Rap, and I can tell you that it works great. I generally use it on a 13 Fishing Omen Black six-foot, seven-inch and medium-heavy-power casting rod. It is the perfect all around jerkbait rod. A seven-foot rod is a tad too long for me to be able to snap straight down toward the water. A taller angler might be able to use the seven-foot model. Anglers need to use a somewhat moderate-powered rod with a good tip action. I have messed around with a bunch of rods, and this one is perfect.
I use a high-speed reel all the time. And when I jerk the Shadow Rap, I use a 13 Fishing Concept A 7.3:1 reel most of the time. This high-speed reel allows me to pick up slack quickly and not to waste valuable tournament time when I have to quickly reel in a fouled bait on the end of a long cast and to catch up to fish running straight at me.
I usually use 10-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline 100% Fluorocarbon, but if I am tangling with an array of bigger fish and dealing with flooded timber, thick aquatic vegetation, and docks, I will use 14-pound-test. On rare occasions, like in Florida, I might opt for 30-pound-test Sufix Advanced 832 Braided Superline.
Schultz: Generally, I use a medium-action, graphite composite baitcasting rod that is either six feet, 10 inches or seven feet long. I want the soft-action so that when the lure is pulled, the lure will sweep further to each side. The action and length also help with distance casting, which can be important at times. I use Shimano reels spooled with 8- to 10-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline, which is 100 percent fluorocarbon.
Q. Does water clarity affect its effectiveness?
Lefebre: No more than any other bait. It is available in awesome and bright and loud colors, which exhibit a lot of flash, too. So, I would not overlook the Shadow Rap in stained-water situations. But it really shines in typical jerkbait scenarios that are associated with clear water.
Schultz: Absolutely. Like any jerkbait, the Shadow Rap is a lure designed for fish feeding primarily by sight. As long as there is reasonable clarity (three feet or more) anglers are fishing in a safe range. And no water is too clear for this lure to fool a fish.
Q. Does water temperature affect its effectiveness?
Lefebre: Not really, and that is because it is so versatile. You can snap and rip it hard for reaction bites like with any other jerkbait. But its uniqueness, as far as I have seen, is its ability to elicit strikes when it is motionless. It has a dying baitfish look to it that no other jerkbait has.
Schultz: Although the Shadow Rap was designed primarily for cold-water applications, I've found it very effective in warmer temperatures, too. It's a matter of how the lure is presented. When water temperature is below 55 degrees, bass are usually sluggish. When it climbs to 60 degrees or more, they become more active, with the exception of extremely hot temperatures, of course. Although the cadence is basically the same, how much I move the lure will directly depend on water temperature. The colder it is, the less I move it.
Q. How many seasons have you used it? If you have used it in all four seasons, which is the best, and which is the worse?
Lefebre: I have used it in the late fall, spring, and post-spawn so far. I didn't have them last summer. From my perspective, fall is all about replicating baitfish patterns, and my results with it were staggering, even after the snow started falling up north. Right now it is spawn, prespawn, and a little post-spawn time, and during this time of the year, I can guarantee that there is not a better bait to throw than this one. Bass eat minnows and shad, and they are not going to pass one up when it is in front of their faces no matter what season it is.
Schultz: I've had success using a Shadow Rap in all seasons, but late fall through early spring is undoubtedly the prime time.
Q. What are the most effective casting and retrieving distances?
Lefebre: It really depends on the circumstances. It casts really far, and most times I really wing it out there. I have caught them way out on the end of a cast, and I have caught them close to the boat. Its action is so distinctly different and effortless that it works the same no matter how far or close it is to your rod tip. And it casts great into the wind, which is important to me.
Schultz: I'm from Florida, and long casts are part of the drill. That's because we fish shallow, clear water where fish are easily spooked. I apply that mindset anywhere I'm fishing in clear water, no matter how deep it is. Because of the lure's internal weight system, you can cast it a long way. When I say a lengthy cast, I'm casting the lure more than 20 yards. A short cast would be anything less than 10 yards. Short casts are used primarily for specific targets, like docks, cypress trees, etc. Longer casts are employed on bluff banks, tapering points, submerged grassbeds, etc.
As for the retrieve, bass sometimes follow a jerkbait before they commit, so I try to work the lure completely through what I feel is the strike zone, and that could be all the way back to the boat.
Q. Please describe the best retrieve that you have employed with it.
Lefebre: We have to capitalize on what it does and where it shines, which in my opinion is its unpredictability. In other words, you never know what it's going to do when you snap it, and that is why the fish engulf it more readily than they engulf other jerkbaits. I like to jerk it, pick up the slack and jerk it a few times in a row, and then let it fade, which is a pause, and then I repeat that sequence until I am ready to make another cast. I call the pause a fade, which I have a difficult time finding the correct words to describe this phenomenon, but when I execute the pause and watch what it does, it doesn't just slowly sink; instead it looks as if it is dying, and it even quivers for a split second as soon as I pause it. When I jerk it, it goes side to side, and I have seen it turn around in a 180-degree spin and get engulfed from the front by a following fish. It is a crazy bait, unlike anything out there for sure. In short, it is good to retrieve it extremely slowly with super long pauses in colder-water situations, and it is good for triggering aggressive and reaction strikes in warmer water.
Schultz: I start with a simple cadence, consisting of two back-to-back jerks with a pause. Depending on the water temperature, I try to control the distance I move the lure with each pull and also how long I will let it pause. The colder it is, the less distance I move it and the longer I let it sit. In warmer water, or when fish are aggressive, the cadence is much quicker.
One of the biggest advantages of the Shadow Rap is what it does on the pause. It fades or trails off like a baitfish losing its equilibrium, or perhaps dying, and that signals vulnerability to predator fish like black bass. In cold water, there is no better action to fool them with.
The Shadow Rap's rate of descent depends on the water temperature. The colder it is the slower it will fall. If the water is cold enough, it will suspend rather than fall.
Q. What region in the U.S. has it been the most effective for you?
Lefebre: I have done well up north at waterways, such as Lake Erie and other waterways near my home in Pennsylvania. What's more, it worked well at Lewis Smith Lake, Alabama, in March and Beaver Lake, Arkansas, in April. I have loaned a few to my competitors, and the feedback has been very positive, and my fellow competitors have never returned the Shadow Raps that I loaned them, which is another measure of their effectiveness. Its effectiveness is not limited to regions, and I can guarantee that.
Schultz: I've caught fish with this lure across the continent. On lakes, rivers, reservoirs; it has no boundaries. And it's an absolute killer on the Great Lakes.
Q. Is it more effective for largemouth bass, or smallmouth bass, or spotted bass?
Lefebre: It allures all three species. Last fall, I caught more than 400 largemouth bass on it. This spring I have caught primarily smallmouth bass on it. When I fished Beaver Lake, I caught three species, and at Smith Lake, I caught largemouth bass and spotted bass.
Schultz: All species of black bass can be fooled with a Shadow Rap: smallmouth, largemouth, spotted bass; even red eye and shoal bass attack it. Heck, I even use it in saltwater.
Q. Do you customize it?
Lefebre: I remove the split ring from the nose, and I use a super small snap. On most outings, I experiment a lot with different colors of the Shadow Raps, and the snap allows me to change baits quickly, which also keeps me from having the deck of the boat cluttered with several Shadow Rap rods. The snap also creates a much smaller axis point with the line tie, and it is about a third of the diameter of the split ring, and it also accentuates the action of the Shadow Rap.
The hooks are amazing. They are light-wire ones, and they stick to everything they touch. In fact, they are the best hooks I have ever seen on a jerkbait. But because they are light-wire hooks, you have to take your time after a hefty bass engulfs the Shadow Rap, and you have to fight that bass rather gingerly and wisely or the hooks will bend. I wish I could get a couple hundred thousand of them to put on my other hard baits. On some rare occasions, like in Florida, I may change these hooks and use VMC 9626 O'Shaugnessy Treble Short 4X Hooks.
Schultz: There is no need to modify this lure. I fish it right out of the package. Like every Rapala lure, it's designed to perform correctly when it leaves the factory.