Rapala Hard Baits for Shallow Zander Fishing

“There’s a special feeling when you feel that intense strike on a hard bait. The ability to have an amazing and exciting fishing day in those stony shallow areas is just something else.”

Hitting the water!

In between the spring fishing for pike and late autumn chase for a fat perch, there’s a gap in the year that opens time for my personal zander fishing. And not just any zander fishing, in a limited amount of time, I’ll drop the “jigging soft baits style” and aim for the shallow, rocky areas.

Where the rods are bended, and Rapala hard lures are left with teeth marks that would scare the most!

It’s an easy, simple and raw way to just have a blast out there. Of course, there are a couple of things you must sort out and prepare yourself for before you get going. I’ll briefly take you through some of the steps. 

First one out is checking your surroundings: you’ll need to have a good knowledge about the waters you’re heading to. Through a paper chart or your sonar advice, or even Google Maps/Earth you will get the information you need. 

Looking for shallow areas with increased bottom hardness and bigger blocks of stones is a great advantage. These are the typical places where you can locate zander. I wouldn’t recommend fishing in areas that are deeper than five meters, especially when your plan is to catch them with lighter gear and spinning. Those hard lures will work perfectly down to five meters with a spinning rod!

Which hard lures and why?

To cover the most crucial situations, I’ve chosen three hard baits from Rapala. I will gladly recommend these one’s for you! These lures have been killing it during my zander season the past fishing year.

First one out on the line is the Rapala Shadow Rap® Shad. It has a higher profile and will give you a bigger flash. It works perfectly all the way down to two meters. The lure is aggressive to fish, so you can either fish slow or pick up the pace, both will work. On a short or long stop the Shadow Rap Shad will slowly begin to rise to the surface. Many of my zander strike in shallow areas, just as the lure is rising.

My second go-to hard lure is without a doubt the Shadow Rap® Jack Deep! This little fellow is just a mouthful. I’ll use the Jack Deep when fishing the deeper sides of a shallow plateau and down to around three meters this lure is fantastic. You will easily achieve those long casts and the aggressive swimming action, that will make the zander want to kill this lure. You can fish the Jack really fast and it’ll still be very steady to retrieve. And, like the Shadow Rap Shad, it rises slowly to the surface when stopped. 

Last one out is our little fatty! The Rapala BX® Brat has a broad swimming action and can easily be steady retrieved or twitched, which will make the BX Brat vibrate as it goes from side to side. A versatile lure that will catch you a lot of different species. But, for our main zander goal today I’ll use it on those stonier areas, fishing it rather fast with short stops. As you can feel the BX almost “rolls” over the stones and lures those sneaky hiding zanders to attack!

Put your effort in the right time!

Zander is a great predator fish. When people are speaking about zander fishing it can often be directly referred to as trolling, especially when done at night. Of course, there is no wrong way: the most important thing is that you catch them in a way you find most satisfying. Zanders are known as night hunters and that’s correct! Very often you’ll find them higher up in the water columns late at night and early in the morning. BUT that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t feed at daylight.

Many of my “best” ‘fishing days are from mid-day to early evening. When the sun stands high and with a lighter breeze over the water, that’s a condition that works well for me. This works especially when I’m fishing zanders with spinning and casting gear. I’ve also experienced the shallowest plateaus to be very successful in bright daylight. If you’re still on the water and considering continuing fishing into the dark, I would recommend you try out those hard lures of yours in more of a pelagically fishing style. Seek those nearby drop-offs from the shallow areas where the zanders been located and focus your fishing around 3-4 meters when the darkness falls. But, be prepared to the lack of strikes and longer waiting. Or maybe even consider some trolling on your way back home. To sneak in one favorite lure used for trolling but even for casting is the Rapala Tail Dancer®! Check it out at! It comes in various sizes and a lot of cool colors. I have a lot of trolling friends that speaks highly of this lure. My own experience is mostly casting the Tail dancer (Deep) version in situations that I described above - deeper areas and drop-offs. The Strike can be spectacular and is mostly addictive!

A fish to remember!

We had been struggling for few hours with lack of strikes and weather conditions of the most unstable kind: heavy rain and hard winds between warm sun and flat sea. I was kind of frustrated when we were closing in on the last stop and area of the day. An area that was approximately the size of a soccer field. The average depth was around 3 meters with some higher tops and big rocks surrounding us under the water. I re-tied my leader after a battle earlier with some smaller pikes. Those sharp teeth can make a mess for sure. Digging through my boxes of lures I decided to go for a Shadow Rap Shad. The versatility of this lure is incredible. I decided to make a steady retrieve and add in a few quick stops when hitting small stones. The irritating swimming action as this lure reveals its belly flash was just too much! Two casts later, there it was!

The water absolutely exploded as a big and well-conditioned zander chose to strike my lure! The bite was horrifying and hard, followed by a heavy feeling behind that rod tip! 

-Get the net mate!
-Yep there it is! Thanks!

Smiling as I unhooked this beautiful fish got me thinking! 

I hope more people will take the opportunity to try out this specific kind of target fishing!

-Hard lures on Zanders....