Feb 19, 2012
Balog goes deep with the Rapala Rippin’ Rap
By Mike Pehanich
Last October, I joined Joe Balog, Great Lakes bass expert, on Lake St. Clair for a shot at some big smallmouth.
Blade baits proved effective and set the tone early on. (More on blade baits, coming soon!)
Later Joe tied on one of the new lipless crank bait. Instead of ripping it, however, he started working it in much the same manner we had been fishing the Silver Buddy that day – with slow pulls and pauses, much like worm fishing. Joe hooked a long and strong smallmouth within minutes. Several more soon followed.
Joe wasn’t surprised. His bait was a new Rapala Rippin’ Rap, and it sported a fish-attracting wobble on the fall. He had used it on deep-water smallmouth during the summer, and it had given him a new tool for these sometimes hard-to-reach fish.
“The Rippin’ Rap will cast the line off your reel!” said Balog of the BB-laden lure. “We counted it down on schooling fish on Lake St. Clair in summer over deep grass flats 15 or 16 feet down. We would always catch a couple when we found them, and usually at least one would be a big one!”
Long casts are the key to keeping crankbaits with diving lips deep for an extended period. That goes double for lipless crankbaits, which rise quickly upon retrieval.
“Rapala did the right thing,” says Joe Balog. “They put more weight into a smaller package. The Rippin’ Rap sinks over two feet per second. That gets it down quickly…And they gave it action on the drop.”
Though it is hard to keep any lipless lure deep with a steady retrieve, some of these new models can be worked easily in 10 to 20-foot depths with a rip or slow pull. Pause long enough to allow the bait to fall back to bottom.
Expect a lot more experimentation with these and other heavy lipless crankbaits –like the fast-sink version of the Sebile Flatt Shad — in the coming season. Anglers in the pro ranks have lauded lipless crankbaits for their versatility for a long time.
This season, try them deep in the hottest and coldest months of the year!
Rapala Rippin’ Rap
What started out as a “price point” bait between the premium Clackin’ Rap and original Rattlin’ Rap may have turned out to be much more!
One perceived disadvantage of lipless crankbaits is that fish gain leverage and throw them relatively easily. “One of the first things Rapala did was go to a smaller treble hook,” explained Mark Fisher, Rapala director of field promotions. The smaller hook will stick when the fish starts slapping around. A larger hook will actually deflec tand bounce off.” –-MP