The versatility of the Rapala Jigging Rap goes to show how a lure intended for a particular fishing style can be applied in other parts of the world with deadly effect simply by applying different techniques to work the lure.
Originally introduced in 1965 for ice fishing, the Rapala Jigging Rap has since found its usage in warmer waters and is fast gaining popularity in catching a wide range of species. Ice jigging involves cutting a hole in a sheet of ice that has formed over a lake and working a lure vertically up and down every now and then to entice a strike from the fish below. This technique was later adopted by bass, perch, crappie and walleye anglers in warmer months to target deeper holding fish suspended against tight underwater structure where no conventional lures could effectively reach. The Jigging Rap also found a growing fan base of Japanese anglers that had much success targeting bream, rockfish and other inshore species. This craze has since reached Southeast Asia for a select few anglers who have had the opportunity to test out the effectiveness of these lures in our tropical waters. The field reports of fish caught on the Jigging Raps have been astounding.
The Jigging Rap’s unconventional design is the secret to the unique actions that can be produced on this lure. The slim, minnow profile of the Jigging Rap is zinc-weighted to enable the lure to sink to the desired depth where fish are suspended or holding. Single hooks are permanently fixed on the front and tail ends of the Jigging Rap while a treble hook is located below the lure’s mid-section to maximize hookup rates at all angles when the lure is vertically jigged or at free fall. A specially designed plastic fin fixed onto the tail end of the lure works together with the slightly front-weighted body and centered tow point to enable the lure to sink tantalizingly in a figure eight-like fashion when worked vertically.
How to Work The Jigging Rap
The Jigging Rap is not a straight-up-and-down jigging lure but you have to get the timing right for it to work well. The trick is to lower the rod tip quickly so that there is slack line between the Jigging Rap and the rod tip. When there is slack line, the lure picks up speed and the flow of water past the plastic tail fin makes the lure move forward as it drops. Since the lure is fished vertically, this forward movement is translated into a circular or figure eight swimming pattern, which can be irresistible to predators.
While this lure has been designed specially for vertical jigging, it is also a deadly weapon when cast and retrieved. The ‘snap jigging’ technique introduced by American fishing legend Al Lindner involves casting out the Jigging Rap into open water and allowing it to sink all the way to the bottom. Using a fast, snapping motion with your wrist, snap the rod tip upwards and then quickly lower the rod tip to create slack in the line then pausing before repeating the motion. The snapping motion will cause the Jigging Rap to suddenly dart upwards from the bottom while the slack line and pause will cause the lure to sink to the left or right. This sudden ‘dive’ of the lure at the slack can give an illusion of a baitfish dashing for cover especially when working it just over rocks, gravel or rugged terrain. This illusion is particularly effective for cautious fish following the lure but hesitating to bite. The predator’s natural reaction is to strike at the sight of a potential easy meal suddenly dashing for cover.
Extra caution is required when working the lure over these areas as the exposed hooks can easily snag onto the rocks as the lure touches bottom. Using the smaller W3-sized Jigging Rap, this technique is suitable for species that are not usually caught on conventional lures such as members of the Cichlid family and omnivorous fishes such as Pacu, Jelawat (Grass Carp) and Kalui (Giant Gourami). Likewise in the saltwater scene, the bigger W9 jigged slowly off the bottom produced Indian Threadfin and Diamond Trevally. Downunder, the Aussies have been successfully catching bream, whiting, bass, redfin and plenty more!
The third way of working the Jigging Rap effectively is to cast it out, let it sink to a desired depth and twitching the rod tip in between cranks at high speed. This is an exciting way to work the lure and is particularly effective on ferocious predators such as Sebarau, Peacock Bass, Queenfish, Mahi-Mahi and other speedsters. The resulting action is a rapid, side-to-side swaying movement that is not seen in conventional lures today. Conventional lures usually travel in a linear direction while the Jigging Rap is able to dart erratically from side to side in a wide movement.
It is this unique and ‘unfamiliar’ action that arouses even the instincts of fishes in areas under heavy fishing pressure. Although this technique is to be worked fast, it is important to allow sufficient slack on the line when the rod tip is twitched before following up with the retrieve. The slack is what enables the Jigging Rap’s enticing sway from side to side. You can also try a combination of the above technique with a sudden stop-sink movement. Imagine a panicky baitfish moving in a zig-zag path trying to evade a predator in hot pursuit only to suddenly veer off course and dive for cover under a rock. The sudden dive caused by an abrupt stop after a zig-zag darting movement has been extremely effective during field tests on our local waters.
Advantages of the Jigging Rap
The Jigging Rap is a versatile hard body lure to have in any lure angler’s arsenal. It can be fished vertically, worked throughout the entire water column or cast and retrieved at slow and fast speeds. Although lipless crankbaits are equally as versatile, the Jigging Rap has the advantage of the wide, side to side darting action when retrieved and circular swimming pattern when dropped vertically. The uncharacteristic actions of the Jigging Rap can also appeal to fishes that have become familiar to the actions of bibbed and bibless swimming lures in heavily fished waters. Fish strike out of reaction to the unfamiliar movement of the lure if not out of hunger or aggression. Another distinctive advantage is the Jigging Rap’s weight to size ratio. The lure can achieve a considerable casting distance thanks to its zinc-weighted construction in a small, compact body. This is a significant attribute for stalking wary fish that are feeding on smaller prey far beyond reach of most casting lures.
The Jigging Rap is an extremely dynamic lure to complement other existing lures in one’s tacklebox and its potential has yet to be fully explored for our tropical waters.