As winter fades into spring, bass anglers begin to consider what lures they use to target hungry pre-spawn bass. The jerkbait is among the best when it comes to targeting cold water pre-spawn largemouth.
The Rapala Shadow Rap and its cousin, the Rapala Shadow Rap Shad, are among the most popular jerkbaits on the water. They are both proven to be deadly for bass and other freshwater gamefish.
First introduced in 2014, the Shadow Rap caused a splash, offering a unique action and presentation that set it apart from the myriad other jerkbaits on the market, and it quickly caught on with fisherpersons.
In this review, we’ll take a look at what makes the Shadow Rap different, compare it to the Shadow Rap Shad, and consider how best to put it to work catching fish.
What Is The Shadow Rap?
Since the first time Lauri Rapala noticed the effectiveness of minnow and shad shaped baits, the company has gained a reputation for innovative design. The Rapala Shadow Rap is one of the latest success stories generated by this creativity.
Like most jerkbaits, it’s supposed to look like a minnow in the throes of what they call it’s ‘death quiver’. It accomplishes this by enclosing five tungsten balls in the body of the lure with room enough to move back and forth just a little.
These not only give the Shadow Rap distance on the cast, but also lend the lure a slight rattle on the retrieve, and along with the way the front lip is angled and shaped give it a very lively action on the jerk, darting and turning rapidly up and down as well as side to side with the least amount of forward travel, presenting itself to the fish for a longer time.
It features flat sides rather than the rounded sides of most jerkbaits which help in the rapid action. It’s capable of turning almost all the way around to face a fish that’s following it, a move that’s hard to resist.
But where the Shadow Rap really shines is on the pause. While most lures will just sit there not doing much of anything but sink when suspended, this lure will show its tail to the surface as it moves, vibrates, and reorients as it slowly sinks, thus the ‘death quiver’. Many anglers report just as many or more strikes on the pause as on the retrieve.
The Rapala Shadow Rap is available in two types, one that runs shallow from the surface down to 4 feet, and a deeper diving model that runs from 5 to 9 feet, appropriately called the Shadow Rap Deep, as well as three different sizes.
The lures are available in 24 newly redesigned colors from natural to fluorescent to shiny and glittery and everything in between along with textured lifelike scales and realistic eyes. Their bite is provided by 2 to 3 wickedly sharp black nickel VMC round bend treble hooks.
If you need more to make them an attractive addition to your tackle box look no further than the price, which is right around $10 or less. Compare to the often exorbitant prices of some other lures in this category.
Shadow Rap vs Shadow Rap Shad
After the initial success and popularity of the Shadow Rap, Rapala decided to follow it up with the Shadow Rap Shad. The Shad has all of the unique characteristics and fish-attracting traits of the original Shadow Rap, with a few key differences.
First, it’s designed to mimic a shad, a major forage fish on many lakes across the country. It also passes as juvenile bluegill or even a herring. This Shadow Rap Shad’s profile is therefore quite a bit shorter than the Rap, 3.5” as compared to 4.75”, but also a bit fuller from top to bottom and thicker.
On the pause, its nose will point to the surface and slowly rise instead of sinking, mimicking a fish that’s dying in the late winter or early spring or in the fall with the first cold spell and moving towards the light.
Like the original Shadow Rap, it features a frantic, desperate action on the retrieve with sharp, fast turns with little forward travel and a ‘death quiver’ on the pause and rise. It also is available in shallow (surface to 4 feet) and deep running models, which runs at a 5 to 6 feet depth.
It’s available in the same wide variety of colors, armed with 2 #6 VMC nickel round bend treble hooks.
How To Fish The Shadow Rap
When fishing this lure you want to present it in a way that will make the best use of its one of a kind characteristics. Of course, the technique has to be adapted to the environment, but in general, you’ll want to let the lure sit for a few moments after the cast to let the ripples dissipate, then give it a few sharp jerks to get it down to depth.
Then work in some pauses to allow the bait to do its thing. With some slight twitches in between to maintain depth and attract attention, keeping it in front of the fish for as long as possible. Best results can be had with a 6’6” spinning or baitcasting rod with an 8 to 10-pound test line, either fluorocarbon or a light braid.
When To Fish The Shadow Rap
Most fishermen think of a jerkbait for late winter and pre-spawn action, but the Shadow Rap and the Shadow Rap Shad have proven to be productive throughout the year.
The slow pause and sink of the original Rap are good for post cold front conditions when you want to keep the bait in front of the fish. The Shadow Rap Shad works well when shad and similar fish begin to die off in the fall.
Both baits can deliver in the summer too along the edges and tops of grass and other structure.
Best Shadow Rap Colors For Bass And Walleye
The many natural colors Rapala offers do well in clear water while the brighter, flashier colors and finishes stand out in murky, dark water.
The Albino Shad, Mossback Shiner, Elite Blue, and Ghost Shiner finishes have been reported to slay bass, while orange crawdad, fire tiger, gold, and perch work well on walleye.
Shadow Rap Overview
To ‘wrap’ it all up, a quick look at the pros and cons of the Rapala Shadow Rap, one of our favorite bass fishing jerkbaits.
- Excellent turning and darting action on the jerk and vibration and ‘death quiver’ on the pause.
- Textured scales, realistic eyes, and many colors and finishes to choose from.
- Premium VMC hooks.
- Affordable pricing.
- Tank tested and hand-tuned.
- Many anglers have reported hairline fractures or crackling on the lure’s lip, with some reporting complete breakage. It is a somewhat fragile lure to begin with, but avoid casting onto hard objects like docks and rock and you should not have any problems.
- Anglers have also complained about hooks bending too easily, though others say the right rod and line setup will prevent it.