Rapala last introduced a jerkbait around 2000.
The Finland artificial lure manufacturer got back in the swim of things in a resounding way, although it was a well-kept secret, during the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell near Greenville, S.C.
Several Classic contenders, including Mike Iaconelli, Randall Tharp and Brandon Palaniuk, had been using a new lure for about six months.
Rapala gave the Shadow Rap its official launch on Feb. 17. It was billed as a game-changing jerkbait.
Company officials were right, as it took the fishing world by storm, according to Mark Fisher, director of field promotions for Rapala.
“We’re out of them (at the moment). As of today, I believe we’ve blown 300,000 (lures out the door),” Fisher said in early March. “We have none in the warehouse. All this week, we’ve been getting reorders from stores — 30,000, 50,000, 70,000.
“As fast we get them in, we ship them out. It’s fun to watch. We haven’t had this much activity around here in a long time.”
On a website touting the Rapala Shadow Rap (and Rapala Shadow Rap Deep), it says “Most Dangerous Moves Ever.”
Fisher won’t get an argument from Palaniuk, the Idaho bass pro who has two Bassmaster wins, seven Top 10 finishes, 12 Top 20 finishes and 26 Top 50 showings in 42 tournaments.
He was impressed right away with the prototypes and first models sent to him.
“I was able to have enough confidence in that jerkbait that I took all the other jerkbaits out of my box, except the Storm Twitch Stick, and replaced them with the Shadow Rap,” Palaniuk said. “I’ve thrown it on a handful of lakes in Idaho. I tested it out on a couple small lakes in Minnesota.”
Palaniuk boated three bass that hit the board in the most-recent Classic. All were caught on the Shadow Rap.
“I know Palaniuk had fish going on it in practice,” Fisher said. “I do know it was on (Mike) Iaconelli’s deck. That was his focus on the morning bite; he had a couple colors on the deck.”
Ike caught a 2- and 4-pounder on the Shadow Rap Deep that Saturday morning that were keys to his sixth-place finish in the event.
Randall Tharp also used it in the Classic, Fisher said, noting the bass pro told Fisher he “shouldn’t have put it down.” One Bassmaster.com photo from the Classic shows Tharp holding a 2 ½-pound bass in his left hand moments after unhooking a Shadow Rap that is in his right hand.
“The boys garnered a lot of confidence in them early, and played with them since last fall,” Fisher said.
Input from Palaniuk and other bass pros was invaluable to the creation of the Shadow Rap.
“It’s a bait that took God knows how many years to build,” Fisher said. “Everything we dreamed to put in a jerkbait, we nailed it for the coldwater side. With that goes a lot of pride. Everybody’s using them. Everybody’s having fun.”
Why is it effective? Fisher and Palaniuk said it is because it has more action in 3 feet than a similar artificial lure might have in 6 feet.
“It can make several moves, like walk-the-dog underwater, but it doesn’t move out of the strike zone,” Fisher said.
Fisher said the Shadow Rap was designed to mimic a dying minnow. When paused with slack line during the retrieve, the jerkbait exhibits a unique presentation, as it quivers and shimmies side to side, just like a dying baitfish.
He pointed out that most jerkbaits follow a forward trajectory with each twitch of the fishing rod. The Shadow Rap’s action stands out because it darts side-to-side and even rotates or moves vertically with the right twitch.
The bite often is triggered on the initial kick.
That action is what has convinced Palaniuk, Iaconelli and other Bassmaster Elites.
“That’s why it works,” Palaniuk said. “It all has to do with movement you can want. There is a lot of horizontal movement — almost 180 degrees. You can keep it in the strike zone a lot longer without pulling it away from (bass). It’s a really good bait, really easy to work.”
“It’s really designed for cold water. The movement’s built in the bait. (But) having it in the shallow and deep version, that allows you to fish it the entire year.”
Fisher said the design includes another special element.
“The final real accomplishment was the fact that, by making it flat-sided and alleviating the rolling action, we were able to really fine tune the bait for triggering strikes,” he said. “One of the keys is the flat sides. It works extremely well — you can put little wrist movements and the bait won’t move from the target area, so it stays in the strike zone longer.”
Palaniuk’s favorite color is moss back shiner because, he said, “that’s just a really natural color. It imitates a lot of natural baitfish and shad in different parts of the country. It’s probably my favorite color in the whole series.”
The Shadow Rap’s armament also appeals to Palaniuk. It seems as if fish just breathe on it, they can be hooked and put in the boat.
“I would say the three-hook design is pretty important, especially in cold water,” he said. “Those fish aren’t aggressive. Those specially designed hooks are VMC.”
For more information on the Rapala Shadow Rap and Shadow Rap Deep, go to www.rapala.com.