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Rapala’s Shadow Rap: A Simply Deadly Jerkbait Reviewed

Reviewed by: John Baltes
Last Updated:

Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait Review

rapala shadow rap review
USAngler Rating: 

No one knows stickbaits better than Rapala, and 140 years of met limits and filled coolers just goes to prove that.

But the good folks at Rapala aren’t the kind to rest on their laurels. After all, constant innovation is the keystone of their success.

Careful design and lots of time on the water led to the development of the Shadow Rap in 2014, and since then, it’s proven itself as perhaps the deadliest jerkbait ever to make its way into the hands of anglers.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Rapala Shadow Rap jerkbait comes in four variations, offering a range of sizes, diving depths, and color patterns to suit different fishing conditions. Its unique action, characterized by sharp right and left turns when jerked, effectively mimics an injured baitfish, attracting predators. It casts well, especially in windy conditions, and is designed to reduce self-snagging. The lure performs effectively across different water temperatures, making it versatile for various seasons. However, mastering the specific twitch-and-pause technique required may pose a learning curve for some anglers, and its depth range may not suit those targeting fish in deeper waters. Overall, the Rapala Shadow Rap is a well-designed jerkbait with unique action and versatility that could prove deadly in the hands of both novice and experienced anglers.

Pros

  1. Variety of Models: Comes in four distinct variations with two body styles and two diving lip options, catering to different fishing conditions and preferences.
  2. Size, Weight, and Hook Placement Variety: Different configurations are available to suit various fishing environments and target species.
  3. Color and Pattern Options: Offered in a wide range of colors and patterns, which can be chosen based on water clarity and prey species present.
  4. Casting Performance: Noted for good casting performance, particularly the slender Shadow Rap in windy conditions.
  5. Unique Action: Unlike typical jerkbaits, the Shadow Rap has a distinct right and left turn action when jerked, creating a series of sharp movements that mimic an injured baitfish, attracting predatory fish.
  6. Effective in Various Water Temperatures: The standard Shadow Rap slowly sinks on pause, making it effective in cooler water, while the Shadow Rap Shad slowly rises, making it suitable for warmer water.
  7. Reduced Self-Snagging: The design prevents self-snagging, which is a common issue with some jerkbaits.
  8. Multi-Season Use: Effective not only during the traditional fall and pre-spawn seasons for jerkbaits but also post-spawn and in high summer, making it a versatile choice for anglers.
  9. Sound and Vibration Attraction: The erratic action sends vibrations and sounds to attract hungry fish.
  10. Effective in High-Probability Strike Zones: The tight area action allows for longer working in high-probability strike zones without needing to cast repeatedly.

Cons

  1. Specific Technique Required: The need to maintain a certain level of slack in the line to achieve the desired action may require some getting used to, especially for those new to jerkbait fishing.
  2. Potential for Additional Treble Hook: The Shadow Rap Shad models come with one less treble hook compared to the standard Shadow Rap, which might affect hook-up rates.

Shadow Rap

Length: 4 ⅜”
Weight: 7/16 oz.
Depth: 2-4’
Treble hooks: 3 #6

Shadow Rap Deep

Length: 4 ⅜”
Weight: 7/16 oz.
Depth: 4-8’
Treble hooks: 3 #6

Shadow Rap Shad

Length: 3 ½”
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Depth: 3-4’
Treble hooks: 2 #6

Shadow Rap Shad Deep

Length: 3 ½”
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Depth: 5-6’
Treble hooks: 2 #6

Analysis and Results

Specifications

Rapala offers the Shadow Rap in four distinct variations.

Two body styles are available: the slender, elongated minnow - just going by the moniker “Rap” - and the taller, more ovoid shad.

These two bodies can be had with the standard jerkbait lip or a longer version that dives deep.

The specs for these lures from Rapala reveal that the two body styles differ in size, weight, hook placement, and depth:

Shadow Rap

Length: 4 ⅜”
Weight: 7/16 oz.
Depth: 2-4’
Treble hooks: 3 #6

Shadow Rap Deep

Length: 4 ⅜”
Weight: 7/16 oz.
Depth: 4-8’
Treble hooks: 3 #6

Shadow Rap Shad

Length: 3 ½”
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Depth: 3-4’
Treble hooks: 2 #6

Shadow Rap Shad Deep

Length: 3 ½”
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Depth: 5-6’
Treble hooks: 2 #6

Each is offered in a wide range of excellent colors and patterns, with the standard Shadow Rap and Shadow Rap Shad Deep sporting no less than 14 options.

Obviously, the standard Shadow Rap is longer and heavier, and it’s also equipped with a third #6 treble. But just as obviously, the lighter Shad bodies dive a touch deeper.

lighter shad body

Both cast well, though the more slender Shadow Rap is the clear winner when the wind is gusting.

Which is right for you largely depends on the water temperature: cooler temps favor the Shadow Rap Shad, while warmer water - and more active fish - tend to prefer the standard Shadow Rap.

Color Choice

As always, you want to match the hatch in clearer water but go brighter as visibility declines.

My top picks for clear water include colors like “Carbon,” “Yellow Perch,” and “Albino Shiner.”

yellow perch rapala shad

Yellow Perch is a hit where the water is clear and immature perch are a common prey item.

bluegill rapala shad

In the South, where bluegill are plentiful, Carbon can be an excellent option.

rapala shad rap blue herring

Blue Black Herring works well for me in both clear and murky water.

clown rapala shad

Clown is hard to beat when visibility is low.

Action

Anyone can make a jerkbait of that size and weight, and if that’s all Rapala had up its sleeve, no one would be talking about the Shadow Rap.

But serious fishermen are, and you can chalk that up to some serious Rapala magic.

Unlike typical jerkbaits that shimmy on the pull and then glide to a stop, the Shadow Rap turns sharply as it’s jerked, making a series of right and left turns that send its nose across roughly 180 degrees.

That wild gyration sends vibrations and sound to hungry fish, and there’s just no question that it alerts them to the presence of an injured baitfish. It also keeps the Shadow Rap confined to a tighter area, allowing you to work high-probability strike zones for longer.

No more cast and cast again. Instead, you can work this jerkbait till you get a strike.

And Rapala has pretty much eliminated self-snagging: those erratic turns don’t result in hooked lines.

Five tungsten balls in a small channel both orient this lure and impart that action - in conjunction with both the body and lip shape, of course.

And rather than just petering out at the end, the Shadow Rap adds an extra trick.

The standard Shadow Rap sinks slowly on the pause; the Shadow Rap Shad slowly rises.

That’s a trick that lures fish into a strike, mimicking the dying motions of injured prey.

Most anglers prefer that falling motion in cooler water when fish are more lethargic. By contrast, that rise on the pause is perfect for warmer water, when active predators will simply nail bait fish with a damaged swimbladder.

I know, I know: jerkbaits are traditionally fall and pre-spawn lures. But I’m telling you these Shadow Raps are deadly post-spawn and in high summer, too.

That combination of enticing action, excellent body shape, and perfect color makes them as close to an all-season lure as you’ll find.

How to Fish This Jerkbait

Jerkbaits work a bit differently than crankbaits, even though they look a lot alike.

Crankbaits are retrieved, often with a varied cadence, and you’re looking to run them into obstacles to create erratic motions.

By contrast, jerkbaits like the Rapala Shadow Rap aren’t going to be steadily retrieved.

Begin by casting your Shadow Rap, let it hit the water, get your line tight, and wait. Just let it be for a few seconds.

Sometimes, a hungry fish will take it right then.

If not, twitch your rap tip a few times to set the Shadow Rap writhing - but be careful: you don’t want to keep a tight line during this motion. Instead, you’re looking for just a touch of slack to allow the Shadow Rap to make those tight turns and fluttering rises and falls.

Create this by moving your rod tip back to its original position, pointing back at the bait.

Then pause again, giving this lure at least a few seconds. In colder water, stretch this pause out to something like a five-count.

Check that your line is tight again, then restart the rod twitches that set it dancing, allow slack to develop, and pause.

With practice, you’ll get this cadence down in no time.

About The Author
John Baltes
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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