How To – Fishing With Twitch Baits
Anyone interested in modern predator fishing has surely heard the term “twitching. It’s the type of presentation where the retrieve is animated by short and hard strokes performed with the rod. This gives off a hard-kicking and zigzagging presentation – one that pike and big perch find hard to resist. But twitching is more than just yanking the rod: it’s also about the pauses. Fish can often be reluctant to attack a bait that’s constantly on the move, and that’s why adding pauses is a crucial part of the game. Of course, not all lures are born to zigzag and squiggle through the water. What you’ll need is a bait that’s slim and elongated. A bait with a small diving lip and hardly any swimming action when simply cranked. A twitch bait.
Among twitch baits, there are two who reign supreme. In my books, Shadow Rap® and Shadow Rap® Shad by Rapala are on a level of their own. Hyped not only in the US by the bass professional Mike Iaconelli, these two lures are the go-to baits for outwitting pike and big perch in my native Germany. At first glance, they might seem quite similar, but a further inspection reveals the differences. They are two individual lures, designed for different purposes. And we’re going to dive head-first into those details!
Let’s start with the Shadow Rap®. The Shadow Rap comes in two sizes: there’s an 11 cm version, weighing 13 grams, and a 7 cm one that weighs 5 grams. The bigger size runs in depths between 0.6–1.2 meters, while the smaller version is for shallower waters. For those looking for a lure that goes deeper, there’s the Shadow Rap Deep that can reach down to 2.5 meters. The lure’s slim, flattened profile and the slowly sinking action are the details that make this lure. But why pick such a small hard bait with three trebles? Unknown to many, the Shadow Rap was originally developed for black bass fishing in cold waters, specially designed to be used during the pre-spawning period. During this phase, the warm-blooded bass are very sluggish due to the low water temperature. This means they won’t be that eager to chase after fast-running artificial baits. It’s natural – they want to conserve their energy. This is why the Shadow Rap is designed to excel in slow presentations! A couple of twitches is all it takes to get this beauty dancing through the water. And when paused, the lure sinks towards the bottom in a life-like motion, giving the fish enough time to make their move. And here’s where the three trebles come into play: when targeting sluggish and cautious predators, having three treble hooks increases the hook-up rate by miles!
The 9 cm long and 12 g heavy Shadow Rap® Shad looks very similar to the Shadow Rap but differs fundamentally in terms of features. The Shadow Rap Shad’s profile is low, with a high, pointy back. This profile results in a very strong, rotating motion – the lure kicks and rotates almost 180 degrees when twitched! One of the secrets behind the Shadow Rap family’s success is the flash given off by the lure’s side flank. It’s a key stimulus that tempts predators to go for the strike. The Shadow Rap Shad’s compact body also allows for impressive casting distance. This lure is specifically designed to be used in warmer waters, either after spawning or during the summer. Twitch it aggressively and quickly through the water during those seasons and prepare for a fight! In contrast to the slow-sinking Shadow Rap, the Shadow Rap Shad has a floating and slow-rising action when paused. In the warm summer months, when there’s a lot of surface activity, this behavior is very natural to baitfish.
For twitch baits, the best rods are short – somewhere between 1.70–2.00 meters. To properly transfer the twitching movements from your rod to the lure, the rod should be firm and crisp. Soft rods made mostly of glass fiber are optimal for crankbaits, but a bit out of place for this type of fishing. Another important factor is the grip: it needs to be short to allow for comfortable twitching. The choice of reels is up to personal taste – both spinning reels and baitcaster combos have their pros and cons. For the Shadow Rap and the Shadow Rap Shad, I would recommend using rods with a casting weight range between 20 and 30 grams. For the deep-running models, I’d suggest choosing a higher casting weight range, as the larger diving lip creates more resistance in the water.