THRILL OF THE CHASE – WITH THE X-RAP HAKU
“You can feel the adrenaline rushing and shivers surging through your spine when you see that big dark silhouette swimming right under the boat, watching your lure. That’s a pike fishing kind of feeling, for sure.”
For the last week, I’ve been wandering around with anxiety in my chest. A sure sign of the nearing start of the season. As always, I’m ready for it. I’ve arranged all my spin fishing gear, all in perfect shape. When the day comes, I’ll be more than prepared.
I’m staring at the small packages, already knowing what’s inside. Still, I feel nervous. I’m sipping on a hot cup of tea and drumming on the packages with my fingers. When I finally open the boxes, I see one, two, three, four new lures… And yes – the X-Rap® Haku is here! It’s time to pick up the phone and start dialing…
-Mate, we're going fishing!
The first cast
We are standing in a shallow bay, open waters to my right. The wind grabs hold of our jackets as the waves are beating the side of our boat. The last splash gives us a quick taste of the cold water. Today’s choice of lures was easy – four new X-Rap® Haku lures are all I have with me today. Why, you may ask?
Regardless of which new models and lures from Rapala I’ve come across during these past years, I always follow the same steps when getting to know them. For me, it’s important to understand how the lures move and react in different situations. This is also crucial when using them in different waters in the future. Different circumstances mean different challenges, and you want to know your lure when facing them.
I chose today’s location for a couple of reasons. Besides the fact that the climate is perfect, the water depth ranging from one to three meters is precisely suitable for Haku. Lots of stones and old grass mixed in the water. This is where we usually find bream and other small whitefish, either here for spawning, or just seeking shelter in the bay. All in all, a perfect spot for our purpose.
The X-Rap Haku
Let’s talk about the X-Rap Haku from Rapala. The X-Rap Haku is a combination of glidebait and jerkbait. It’s an exciting lure that works with several presentations. Gliding movements with a slow stop-and-go -retrieve. An accentuated twitching or jerking technique for more aggressive side-to-side action. I also noticed that by holding my rod still and just using the reel with a very short stop-and-go technique, the lure is almost suspended in the water while slowly sinking.
The name Haku comes from Finnish, meaning “seek”. And that is exactly how the X-Rap Haku works. A great seeking lure that will fool some big predators. Haku has a few special features, such as the Rapala proprietary 3R System - Titanium Release Rig with VMC Coastal Black hooks. A cool and smart idea that will increase the hits while giving you a higher percentage of fish landed. At hook-set, the hook rig releases from the belly. This way, you get direct contact with the fish, meaning it can’t use the lure as leverage to break free.
The rig is built with a 100 lbs. titanium wire and is accompanied by heavy-duty split rings and premium VMC Coastal Black hooks (4551). The same hooks are used on Rapala’s other X-Rap pike models. The Haku weighs 74gram and 14 cm long, making it the perfect size for any predator out there. At the moment you can choose between fifteen different colors at Rapala.com. My personal favorites are the Smelt on the Beach (SMB) and the Live Roach (ROL) colors. Two natural colors, which is what I prefer in most of my fishing.
So, if you are into gliders and jerkbait fishing, the X-Rap Haku is going to be your new favorite!
The wolf of shallow water
A big dark silhouette appeared beside our boat. Everything happened very fast, but I saw just enough to know it was a massive pike following my Haku. She probably got scared by us and quickly swam away.
-Man, did you see that?! Some big-ass pike right there. I think she went in that direction.
As I was pointing towards the pike’s supposed direction, my buddy got a strike!
-Well, it’s not her for sure, but look at this one!
-Yep, there the Haku is. Right down the hatch.
So, at this point we had already seen big pikes – later we saw even bigger ones. They’re definitely here... We were closing in on an even shallower area with a small canal connecting the bay to the open water. At the end of the canal lies a deeper edge. That’s where the big breams usually swim. I’ve caught a few of them while perch fishing on this very location.
Further down the canal, some bigger rocks are pointing up from the water, changing the way the current flows. A lot of white fish are swimming through the canal – meaning there must be a humongous pike here somewhere.
The last few hours start rolling in, and I start to organize my gear in the boat.
-Hah, you’re going all-in with that lure? Well, you must be onto something.
My friend had a point. I guess every angler has crazy habits when out on the water. Mine’s a quite peculiar one: when I’m concentrated and in the last couple of hours in a fishing day, I usually start to “clean” up everything in the boat – packing all my stuff together, choosing the one last setup. I pick one last lure with the best color and pack everything else away. This is how my friends know that now things get real. Time to go big or go home.
This day the clean-up was fast because I only had the Haku’s to choose from. The lure that got the honor to be the last one standing was the Smelt on the Beach (SMB).
-Look! See that swirl? I think it was a pike that struck a baitfish.
I quickly cast my lure towards the swirl. I made some small twitches to no success.
Another cast in the same place, but this time I made some “longer” jerking action with a few bigger pauses. And suddenly – we saw her! The broad back just barely touched the surface as she was following my Haku. I made a quick stop again. Another twitch and…… BAM!
-I got her!! Damn, she´s putting up a real fight!
-Hurry up, take the net!
I guess this is what makes it all worth it. When we are fighting our ways on the waters, through the rain and wind, cold air, and hours after hours of waiting with nothing… Everything comes down to this moment – when you see a big fish following your lure, and the moment the fish goes for the attack. The fight and the adrenaline…. For me, that’s fishing at its best.