Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lure review: Rapala X-Rap and X-Rap Shad

Still waiting for ideal conditions to break out the fly rods and poppers for bass, we once again resorted to the dark side last weekend and fished conventional lures. We had a pretty good day on Saturday, fishing from the kayaks in a feeder creek of Pickwick Lake in northwest Alabama. We didn't catch any big ones, but Kelly caught 13 bass and I caught 9... outfished by a girl as usual.

One of my goals for the day was to test out some new (to me) lures made by Rapala. I admit not noticing when these lures were first released because I pay more attention to fly fishing than this sort of stuff. I only recently discovered the X-Rap by accident because I was looking for Rapala Husky Jerk lures in a retail outlet... and there the X-Rap was. It has been called the "perfect lure" by some fisherman. From what I can tell the X-Rap hit the market about a year and half ago... so I apologize for my belated review, but here we go anyway. (Post publishing UPDATE: According to a friend who worked at Bass Pro, this lure was introduced in late 2005... so this review is really, really belated. Oh well.)

Accodring to the Rapala website, the X-Rap has all of the following features...

  • Slashbait® Action
  • Suspending on Pause
  • Textured Translucent Body
  • Internal Holographic Foil
  • 3D Holographic Eyes
  • Internal Long-Cast System (XR04 excluded)
  • Stainless Steel Through Wire Construction
  • VMC® Black Nickel Hooks
  • 3D Holographic Eye
  • Flash Feather Teaser Tail
  • Hand-Tuned & Tank-Tested

I believe the lure lives up to all of those descriptors... except for the first and possibly most important of them all... the registered trademark "Slashbait® Action."

According to the website, "the angler defines the cadence for maximum effectiveness." So, maybe I just wasn't doing it right. I tried several different retrieval techniques, but for me it just din't move so magically in the water. Don't get me wrong, I liked the action that I did see, which was reminiscent of the greatest Rapala lure of all time (in my humble opinion)- the Husky Jerk ("Tennessee Shad" color pattern to be specific). I have declared my affection for the Husky Jerk previously on this blog, and from what I can tell Rapala may be phasing this lure out. They're becoming increasingly hard to find in retail outlets. They're also holding their value on Ebay... I know I've been looking, and they're worth their weight in gold if you ask me.

The X-Rap seems to be the logical successor to the Husky Jerk based on circumstantial evidence... similar body shape, action, and suspending qualities as well as being on the first page of lures on the Rapala website while the HJ has been pushed down to page 6, the next to last page. I should also mention that the X-Rap has a higher pricetag than the HJ ever did... and we're not just talking about inflation here. Aside from the overall more modern realistic look of the X-Rap, I find this to be one of the most notable differences.

The X-Rap works!

I also tried out the X-Rap Shad (a new and improved version of the ol' Shad Rap), which has a different profile but mostly similar features to the X-Rap, although they don't claim it to have the same "Slashbait® Action"... instead it is called "Xtreme Attitude Action"... which I find to be quite silly. This crankbait has no more extreme attitude than any other similar crankbait I have ever fished. Don't get me wrong, I like it a lot... I just don't think the silly description of its action is necessary. It does have good action and swims very well... no need for overstating what it does.

The X-Rap Shad works too!

The best fish of my day was landed on the X-Rap Shad. The color pattern I used was "Olive Green"- the closest I could find to my favorite "Tennessee Shad."

Upside down... the kayak angler's perspective

I would definitely recommend both the X-Rap and the X-Rap Shad to other bass anglers. As with all lures, they may not be the best choices on any given day or in any given situation, but they outfished everything else I tried last weekend (lipless crankbaits, plastic worm, and spinnerbait). The only thing that kept up with them, and actually beat them, was their Husky Jerk cousin that Kelly was fishing.

Sometimes you just can't beat a classic... Rapala, are you listening?


  1. The x-rap in larger sizes is killer up north on early season pike in a walk-the-dog type action. Good review thanks for posting.

    1. Atlas,
      Thanks for the comment and the tip. I really wish there were some good places to go after some sort of toothy critter in my area... but there just isn't. There are the rare pickerels and a few random places for Musky not too far away, but you can't just go to a lake and target pike like you can up north. I think I need to take a trip. Maybe you can recommend a good place for a pike destination.

    2. Lake Vermillion MN, one of my favorite fishing spots. Lots of pike and some monster Muskie, your choice. I have two trips on my blog "The Rogue Outdoors" highlighted. Let me know if you want me to post a link to each article. The cool thing about Pike as well is they will just kill a fly. Something about it just drives them wild.

  2. Jay
    I have fished the Shad Rap when my go to floating Rapala would stop producing on top which is usually during the sunny part of the day. Starting in spring and into late fall if one can find shade the floating Rapala, which is my favorite, will produce. I have never fished the X rap, but from what I see in your photos it works as well as the shad rap. Glad you guys were able to make it out and connect up with some nice bass. By the way Smith is an excellent place to fish the floating Rapala at daylight starting in April. You guys need to come up in May for some awesome top action with the poppers. Tell Kelly that the big spot is still waiting off that rock wall. Thanks for sharing

    1. When the time is right, we'll definitely choose the fly rods and poppers over any of this stuff. We definitely need to go back to that rock wall for another shot at the big one.

  3. I've been watching someone on Instagram share photos from AL for a couple of weeks with lots of spotted bass. I've been waiting for temps to be ideal which was this week. Me and a few others finally landed a smallie or two and a few fish. With temps here being close to yours, it seems that temps at night aren't dropping as much and made for ideal water temps. The fish are still a bit skittish and may enter the riffles for a bit and then back to the deeper holes. I've been considering tying some rattles in my bass flies for a certain lake and feeder stream where they are skittish. Folks here are still fishing for stocked trout in bass lakes . . . and you're tearing it up in AL. Nice photos. I've caught just a few bass this year.

    1. Josh,
      The temps here have been pretty cold at night still. The night before this trip in this report was 32 degrees. We were fishing in a flowing water creek, but all of the fish came from the really slow deep holes. I can't wait for wading and fly fishing. Please share if/when you put some rattles in any of your bass flies.

  4. Here are the links to my Vermillion Trips: &

    1. Thanks! Looks like a fun lake... lots of variety in your catch.