The year is 1936, and with a chunk of cork in his hand, fisherman Lauri Rapala is about to set the scene for what is quite possibly the greatest fishing story ever told, carving a lure that, unknown to him at the time, would change the fishing world forever. The crude lure made from cork and chocolate bar wrappers would not only help Lauri catch more fish but would also become the lure revered by anglers all over the world: The Original Floating Rapala.
Chances are most of us grew up with a Rapala or two in our boxes, and we’ve got some now. But our collections will no doubt vary, and we’re here to talk about bass, and the Rapala lures that we think give you the best chance at catching more.
Quick glance at the best Rapala lures for bass:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Best Rapala Lures for Bass
Best for: Smallmouth Bass
Size: 1 ½ to 7 inches
Lure Type: Topwater Minnow Bait
Construction: Balsa Wood
For many of us, the Rapala Original Floating Minnow is where it all started. Growing up, it was the lure I always reached for. And - to this day - it’s the lure that has caught me some of my largest fish, including a personal best smallmouth bass.
Not only did this lure set the scene for all fishing lures, but it has stood the test of time, thanks to its durable balsa construction and reliable fish-catching action.
While it’s classified as a topwater minnow bait, the Original Floating Minnow is so much more than that, and its versatility is unmatched by similar lures. Whether you’re using a simple cast and retrieve, trolling, or working it as a jerkbait, this lure never loses its incredible wounded minnow action. If deeper water is what you’re fishing, a couple of split shots added to the line in front of the lure will get it down to where you need it to be.
- Unmatched wounded minnow action.
- Highly versatile and easy to use.
- Balsa wood construction gives it both its floating ability and its durability.
- Every lure is hand-tuned for the perfect action.
- The lure's popularity has led to the circulation of counterfeit copies.
Best For: Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass feeding on shad and other baitfish.
Sizes: 1 ½ to 3 ½ inches
Lure Type: Diving Crankbait
Construction: Balsa Wood
The Shad Rap comes in many forms, from a glass version to the Jointed Shad Rap and the Super Shad. But when it comes to bass fishing, it’s hard to beat the original Shad Rap.
Months of hand-tuning and tank-testing has resulted in what could still be considered one of the most popular crankbaits in a flooded market. The care that went into creating the Shad Rap is obvious the second you cast one out. Whether you’re using a simple cast and retrieve or you’re trolling, working it fast or slow, the finely tuned action never fails. Combine that action with a natural bait fish profile and over fifty detailed color patterns, and you’ve got a lure that bass cannot refuse.
The Original Shad Rap is the crankbait that set the standard for all other crankbaits past, present, and future, and it’s at its best when used to target bass that are actively feeding on groups of baitfish.
- Hand-tuned for the perfect action out of the box.
- Floating balsa wood construction means the lure can be worked at very slow speeds without the worry of snagging bottom.
- Extra-sharp nickel treble hooks result in less fish spitting the lure.
- Available in a huge array of color patterns, including three exclusive colors designed by fishing pro MIke Iaconelli.
- Lightweight balsa construction makes it harder to cast than other crankbaits.
Best For: Smallmouth bass
Sizes: 1 ½ to 3 ⅛ inches
Lure Type: Lipless crankbait
Construction: Metal frame with plastic body
By the time the Rattlin’ Rapala was introduced in the 1990s, I was already very familiar with how well Rapala lures caught bass. This was, however, my first introduction to fishing lipless crankbaits.
The results were not disappointing. At the time, I used it exclusively as a search bait, casting it out as far as I could, letting it sink, and bringing it back to the boat. While doing that caught a lot of fish, the lure is so much more versatile and can be used with a rip and stop retrieve, and even vertical jigging.
The lure's effectiveness isn’t in how it's fished. It’s in the combination of tight wobble and a rattle chamber that produces a unique sound in-tune with the environment surrounding it. No matter how you’re working this lure, that combination never falters and is always good for attracting and aggravating big bass.
While the Rattlin’ Rapala can catch bass in a lot of different situations, we find it’s most effective when worked quickly for aggressive smallmouth. Whether they’re actively feeding or not, aggressive smallmouth have a hard time ignoring the action and sound of the Rattlin’ Rapala.
- Unique ‘uniform and harmonic’ rattle.
- Durable finish doesn’t peel or chip.
- Lure sinks meaning it can be fished anywhere in the water column.
- Can get snagged up easily, especially when vertical jigging
Best For: Smallmouth and Largemouth that are feeding near the surface
Sizes: 1 ½ to 4 ¾ inches
Lure Type: Slashbait/Jerkbait
Construction: Stainless steel frame with plastic body
The X-Rap is another Rapala that comes in many forms, all of which are capable of catching bass, but for us, the most productive of the bunch is the original slashbait.
Designed in a way that allows the angler to impart a variety of different actions, the X-Rap can be used as a traditional jerk bait, an aggressive slash bait, and even with a simple cast-and-retrieve, making it a great lure no matter what a bass’ mood.
The features on this lure are almost too many to list. Whether it’s the translucent body and internal holographic foil or the teaser tail, every feature combines to create one of the best slash baits on the market. Add to that the lure's ability to perfectly suspend when paused, and it’s no surprise that bass anglers all over the country always have a few on hand.
The X-Rap is best used for bass that are feeding on or near the surface. Whether the fish are aggressively feeding or not, the wounded baitfish action and life-like features will call out to any bass in the area and result in savage strikes.
- Internal long cast system makes casting simple.
- Textured body closely mimics baitfish.
- Internal holographic foil creates an incredible amount of flash.
- Feather teaser tail for added attraction.
- Some customers have reported issues with the bill breaking.
Best For: Less aggressive largemouth and smallmouth bass
Sizes: 2 ½ to 5 ½ inches
Lure Type: Jerkbait
The Husky Jerk was released at a time when fishing a jerkbait for bass was a somewhat overlooked tactic. While not completely ignored, fishing a jerkbait for bass wasn’t the tactic that it is today, and the Husky Jerk had a lot to do with the technique’s increased popularity.
Unlike many other jerkbaits on the market at the time, the Husky Jerk featured near perfect neutral buoyancy and when paused would hold perfectly in place, letting bass have a good long look before committing to striking.
Because of this ability to suspend in place, the Husky Jerk remains one of the most popular jerk baits in a market with plenty of options. The original Husky Jerk has now been expanded to feature three different finishes; original painted finish, a metallic finish, and a transparent glass finish, each offering its own blend of flash to attract bass in any situation.
There’s no doubt that a Husky Jerk can catch bass any time of the year, in any condition, but we recommend fishing it when bass are less active, or when water is murky. The action of the Husky Jerk is a lot more subtle than other Rapalas and even other jerkbaits in general. Where it gets its appeal from is the rattle chamber that creates a uniform sound and calls out to fish. Pair that with its ability to suspend, and it’s the perfect combination for bass that want a slower presentation but still need a little incentive to attract them.
- Durable plastic construction.
- Neutral buoyancy.
- Easy to use.
- Does not have a lot of action when used with a steady cast and retrieve.
Best For: Topwater bass of any kind
Size: 2 ¾ inch
Lure Type: Prop Bait
Construction: Balsa wood
Rapala is famous for their jerkbaits, minnow bait, and even crankbaits, but this list of best Rapalas for bass wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the topwater Skitter Prop. Whether you’re fishing for big largemouth in Texas, smallmouth in Minnesota, or peacocks in Florida, the Skitter Prop is a go to for surface feeding bass.
Using the balsa wood construction Rapala is known for, and adding a stainless steel prop on the back, the Skitter Prop churns and sputters like a struggling baitfish when steadily retrieved across the surface. What sets this lure apart from other prop baits, however, is that it also has Rapala’s signature wobble and becomes a completely different lure when snapped like a jerkbait, combining the sputter and chug of the prop with a diving, darting action.
This lure is a classic for topwater fishing, and fishing it over heavy weed cover or around downed trees or docks will elicit heart-pounding strikes. It doesn’t matter what kind of bass you’re after, if they are feeding on the surface they’ll go crazy for a Skitter Prop.
- Balsa wood construction for incredible buoyancy.
- Stainless steel prop spins effortlessly and will not corrode.
- Dive and roll action mimics a dying baitfish.
- Extra sharp nickel hooks for solid staying power.
- Only available in one size.
Selecting the Right Rapala
The first thing you’re going to want to take into consideration when choosing the right Rapala for bass is the fishing conditions. Each lure on this list is going to do certain things well, under certain conditions. Yes, they can all catch fish on any given day, under any conditions. But to increase your catch rate, you should select a lure based on what you’re fishing for, when you’re fishing, weather conditions, water conditions, etc. Each of these factors and more are going to determine which Rapala is the right one.
This may not seem like a big deal and is possibly the last thing anglers think of when selecting the best Rapala, but it's important to understand the different materials and the impact they have on how a lure works. Rapala is well known for their balsa wood construction and their lure's uncanny floating ability. While an excellent feature, it’s not always right for certain applications. The Shad Rap is a good example of this. Designed to fish deeper water, the balsa wood means that it may not dive as deep as other crankbaits. This is where you might want to change things up and go to something made of plastic - like the Rattlin’ Rapala - that will easily sink to any depth you want to fish. Material is often overlooked when selecting the right lure, but can have a big impact on your day.
Rapala lures are hand-tuned to ensure the best possible action right out of the box, but that doesn’t mean that every action is the same. Where the original floating Rapala has a nice wide wobble, the Rattlin’ Rapala’s action is tighter and the wobble much less pronounced, and the Husky Jerk can fall somewhere in between. Yes, these are different lures for different applications, but the action that each one provides could be a deciding factor depending on how aggressive or lethargic the bass might be.
Not all Rapalas make noise. Lures like the original floating minnow and the original Shad Rap rely on their action and flash to draw fish in. But sometimes that isn’t enough, and if the fishing is tough or the water is murky, you may need a little extra incentive to entice the fish. That is where rattles come into play. Having that sound might just be what turns a bad day into a good one. It can also work the other way around. If you start your day off with a rattling lure and aren’t having a lot of success, switch to something more silent. It’s possible that those rattles are overstimulating the fishing and turning them away.
Color is always a factor that can be up for debate. Everyone is going to have their go-to colors, but many also question whether color is even important when fishing lures that have so many other ways of attracting fish. We could go on and on about when and how to select the right color, but the reality is that it is an important factor, whether determined by the baitfish that bass are feeding on, or the condition under which you are fishing for them. Color is the one factor that sometimes requires a lot of trial and error, especially if you’re fishing an unfamiliar body of water. A lure that catches bass on one lake may not catch them on another. Have a few different colors handy, and experiment until you find one that works best.
Some Quick Tips for Fishing Rapalas for Bass
- Add some weight. Adding weight to a floating lure can sometimes be a game changer. A couple of split shots can turn an original floating minnow into a lure that dives deeper. Depending on where the weight is placed, they can also have an effect on the lure's action, toning the action down when fish want something more subtle.
- Change up your retrieve. Rapala’s have action that bass can’t resist, but that doesn’t always mean that a simple cast and retrieve is going to cut it. Whether you’re jerking the lure, ripping it, or jigging it, Rapala’s will always maintain the right action.
- Always come prepared. While this is a list of the best Rapalas for bass fishing, each is going to have they’re perfect fishing situation. Be prepared to change on the fly and adapt your lure choice to what the fish want.
It isn’t a secret how great Rapala lures are. There's a reason the company has survived decades of fishing changes and continues to prosper and grow. Unfortunately, Rapala’s lineup of lures sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to bass fishing. But they shouldn’t be, and we hope we were able to help with which Rapala lures to choose when it comes to bass fishing.
Leave us a comment and let us know!