Rapala lures are some of the most popular sport fishing lures in the world. There are models made to catch nearly every species of game fish swimming in fresh or salt water. Rapala lures didn’t gain such success by being tricky to use, but there are subtle methods experts use when fishing Rapalas and similar lures to up their chances for success.
Line to Lure
Check to see if your Rapala lure has a split ring installed at the factory where the fishing line attaches. Some models have them, and others don’t.
Check to see if the split ring on your Rapala lure is made of copper or stainless steel. The copper rings are copper colored and usually installed on smaller-sized lures. When lures with copper rings are used to catch smaller-sized fish or weak fighting fish, they are sufficient to do the job. Often, when a large, hard fighting fish is hooked, this is the weak point in the connection between fisherman and fish and will fail.
Remove the copper split ring.
Use a split ring pliers to add an appropriately sized stainless steel split ring to the line connection point whether the lure came without a ring or you are replacing a copper split ring. Don’t tie the line directly to the connection loop on the nose or lip of the lure as doing so will impede the action of the lure.
Cast the lure to a likely area or just beyond a possible spot so the lure will track past or through the fishy-zone on the retrieve.
Retrieve the lure with a series of jerks and pauses. Since Rapala lures mimic the look of real fish, the pause allows the fish to get a good look at the lure, and the jerk often triggers a strike when the predator fish thinks the bait is going to escape.
Experiment with the length of the pauses and the extent of the jerks to determine which pattern the fish are most prone to strike.
Choose a Rapala lure designed to dive on a retrieve to the depth you think the fish are holding. Some Rapalas only swim a foot or two under the water, and others have over-sized lips which make them dive down 15 feet or more.
Cast the lure well past the area you think the fish are holding.
Start reeling as soon as the lure splashes down in the water to make it dive quickly to the fish zone and continue cranking steadily to keep the lure at the preferred depth as long as possible.
Put your boat in forwarding gear and drive it straight ahead as you drop the Rapala lure in the water and let out 50 to 100 feet of line.
Engage the reel so no more line deploys while maintaining a steady speed and the lure will begin to swim along behind the boat.
Choose different models of Rapala lures to make them swim near the surface or dive to medium or deep depths at trolling speeds.
Drive the boat through areas you suspect fish to be holding and experiment with trolling a bit faster or slower to elicit more bites.
Tip: Rapala lures come in a variety of colors. Some mimic the natural bait present in many areas, and others are painted in bright colors which make them more visible in dark waters or more tempting to certain species of fish. Experiment with several colors on each fishing trip to learn the preference of the fish on the day you are fishing.
How to Tie a Rapala Knot
Rapala lures are respected for their lifelike swimming action that draws in virtually all types of fish. To preserve the movement of the lure, the Rapala brothers recommend using a Rapala knot. This knot, which can be used with other types of lures, secures the lure directly to the line and allows for freedom of movement.
- Tie an overhand knot 5 inches from the end of your line by forming a 5 inches loop and passing the end of the line through the loop. Do not pull the knot tightly because you will have to pass the line through it again.
- Thread the free end of the line through your lure’s eyelet and back through the center of the overhand knot.
- Wrap the free end of the line around your fishing line three times.
- Pass the free end of the line back through the center of the overhand knot, forming another loop in the line. Then, draw the end of the line through this new loop.
- Moisten the knot with saliva, then tighten the knot by pulling on both ends of the line. Use your line clippers or scissors to trim the excess line.
How to Cast With Rapala Lures
Rapala’s fish-imitating lures are made not only to swim like live fish but for easy casting over distances to reach the spots where fish are hanging, without spooking them. While the lures can be used for a variety of fish, casting technique becomes most critical when fishing for species such as bass that stay close to cover.
Weedy shoreline, dock pilings, rocky rip-rap, and points all present unique challenges to casting. While your technique need not be professional level, there are certain points to remember for the most effective use of these versatile lures.
Things You’ll Need
- Spinning or baitcasting rod
- 10-lb to 20-lb line
- Rapala lure
Choose Your Weapon
- Choose your lure. Rapala has dozens of styles to choose from, but it is best to match the fish that your quarry is likely to be feeding on. Before leaving the launch, walk along the shallows and look for small baitfish.
- For small, shy or inactive fish, choose a smaller Rapala lure. To hook aggressive fish, a larger lure may trigger a reaction strike.
- For deep structures such as rocks or submerged weed beds, select a sinking lure. For shallows and shoreline fishing, use a floating Rapala.
Tie One On
- Tie on your chosen lure. There is no need for a leader; you can tie it directly onto your main line.
- Use 10-lb. to 20-lb. line so that you can pull the lure loose from weedy snags.
- Rapala lures work best when they are free to move, so an open loop is the best knot to use. Make sure the loop is small enough that it will not become entangled in the lure’s hooks.
- When you have located a likely spot, come in slow and silent. If you are using a gas motor, turn it off and row the last 50 yards. Be sure to respect other fishers in the area.
- Once you are in position, take a moment to see if you can spot any fish activity. Give any spooked fish a chance to relax and drop their guard.
- Never cast your lure directly on top of the fish. Startled fish don’t feed. If you are fishing off a point of land (a favorite bass hangout), park your boat to one side and cast far past the point. Then retrieve your lure across the area.
- If you are fishing a shoreline, cover the weed line first. Work from one side to the other, in a fan-shaped casting pattern. If you get no strikes in the weed line, move outward to submerged weed beds, logs or rocky cover.
- If the shoreline is not producing bites, try deeper water. Tie on a sinking Rapala and cast around pilings, or troll open water near shoals.
Tip #1 - Be prepared. When you feel the tap or tug of a pike inhaling your lure, give a hard pull to set the hook.
Tip #2 - When setting the hook, be sure to pull to the side and not directly upwards-- if a pike hasn't taken your lure, you don't want it flying out of the water into your face! This is one good reason to wear eye protection when fishing.