How to Fish Zander with Your Rippin’ Rap
The Rippin’ Rap® ’s high-frequency rattling sound is like an alarm bell – it will wake anything up! The rattle drives the fish wild, making it one of my favorite aspects in this rippin´and rattlin’ lure by Rapala. In this blog, I’ll be giving a walkthrough on how I use this little firecracker to catch zander.
A Predator species
Zander can be fished in many different ways, with traditional trolling with hard baits being the most classic method. A more modern, and extremely effective, method is the pelagic sharpshooting that involves sonar equipment and a lot of patience. But for me, zander fishing is mostly jigging with hard baits. Bouncing along those rocky bottoms with light gear, hunting for that vampire-like fish – that’s such a fun way to spend the day.
Zander is closely related to perch – in fact, they are often called pike-perch as their elongated body and head resembles the physique of a pike, while their spiny dorsal fin brings perch to mind. However, zander is not a pike-perch hybrid, as some backwater legends would have you to believe. It’s a common and popular game fish in Europe, and also a fish widely used in the kitchen. They may grow to weigh up to 20 kg (44 lbs.), although the typical zander is considerably smaller than that.
Locate your Zander
In my experience, the places where you can find zander vary greatly. In early spring, most of the bigger zanders are found in deeper waters, hunting in the mid-column water sections. As the waters warm up, the zander’s biological clock kicks in, telling the zander – like so many other fish – to seek out shallower waters. Of course, the spawning season can vary, but usually, it’s during the time the water temperature hits 10-13 Celsius or higher. When fishing for zander, I target them before and after their spawning periods and in areas with a rocky bottom and a lot of underwater structures.
For instance, large rocks are often points of interest to me, as you can see on these two pictures from the sonar. The first picture shows the recording of a new area with the Humminbird auto chart live options. It’ll give a great overview of the area, helping you to navigate right above the underwater structures – the places where the fish are likely to lurk. The second picture shows a typical descend from a shallow plateau to deeper waters. Places like this are certainly worth checking out.
Casting your lures from the top of the plateau, bouncing your way along those rocky edges. This time, I´ll be bouncing and dragging my Rippin’ Rap® along those rocks – with great results.
Let it Rip!
The Rippin’ Rap® is a lipless crankbait with a body that’s quite skinny and tall. It comes in three different sizes, the smallest being 5 cm long and 9 grams heavy. For me, the smallest Rippin’ Rap is great for perch and trout fishing. The midsize version is 6 cm and 14 grams, an all-around version that allows for going after basically any fish. Last but certainly not least: the biggest Rippin’ Rap. 7 centimeters and 24 grams of pure fish-catching power. You’d be amazed by how such a relatively small lure can work even for the bigger predators.
About the action. The Rippin’ Rap has a fierce vibrating action with a loud, distinctive rattle emanating from the lure’s BB system. It sinks fast with a flutter, making it a great candidate for zander fishing. It’s a long-casting lure with two Black Nickel treble hooks from VMC, making it reliable and long-lasting. When fishing in waters with a lot of crayfish, I suggest getting the red-colored Rippin’ Rap. It resembles the color of crayfish – which the perch and zander happen to be crazy about.
Zander, Pike & Perch – The Circle is complete!
Now for the big question: how to fish the Rippin’ Rap? The easiest way, of course, is to cast and reel, simple as that. Casting the lure over areas with vegetation of rocky bottoms and reeling it in goes a long way. However, the technique I’ve come to love is jigging. You can jig the Rippin’ Rap by casting it and letting it sink. Once you see the line getting slack, you drag the lure back up, bouncing it along the bottom. This way, you’ll create a ton of noise under the water, triggering the zander to strike. Depending on the structure of the bottom, you can try to “roll” the lure over those bigger stones without getting stuck. Usually, I am fishing the Rippin’ Rap with a braided line like the Sufix 131, but you can easily do some try-outs on a fluorocarbon line like the Sufix Advanced (0,25 or 0,28), if you know you might be fishing in extremely rocky areas. The fluorocarbon is a bit more resilient when dealing with sharp rocks.
To test it in action, I took the Rippin’ Rap out for a day on the water. I took along two of my closest fishing buddies, and the day was filled with laughter and the usual banter.
- Hey, Nellfors! Aren’t you supposed to be catching fish?
Mr. Backlure standing in the front of his boat, smiling at me. Happy about the two fish he already caught. Of course, with a friendly hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Well, I was about to show him. I poked around my tackle box, looking for the optimal colors for the day. One red crayfish color, one shining in gold and silver. Remember the picture from the sonar – the fast plunge from the plateau to the depths? That’s where I was casting. First cast and I was soon looking at a perch over one kilogram! A beautiful fish with brilliant red fins.
Second cast over that rocky edge – and bam! Another strike! The smile on Mr. Backlure’s face had faded, changed for an expression of awe and excitement. But this one was pulling harder than the perch. A pike, perhaps? My guess was correct: a well-fed pike with 93 centimeters of pure hunger and rage. After releasing the pike, I was feeling cocky. I let the guys know that they probably should have the net ready – the showtime’s about to begin. Indeed, only a couple of casts later I felt a hard and distinct strike. A zander.
The crayfish-colored Rippin’ Rap had caught the attention of a gorgeous 4-kilogram zander. Quick photoshoot, and back to the water. I turned to Mr. Backlure with a grin and quipped: “I think that makes it 6–2? Or am I forgetting something?”
With a burst of howling laughter, we continued our day of fishing. The moral of the story? If your friends ever get too cocky while fishing, just take out the Rippin’ Rap® and show them how it’s done.