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RAPALA JOINTED MINNOW (FLOATING)

If these lures could talk, they would have some horror stories to tell. The bottom two have accounted for more river bass than I can count. Although they appear gold, all of these Rapalas are the traditional silver/black color. In my humble estimation, you don't need any other color.

    Just about anyone who has ever tied on a fishing lure has probably been through this ritual. After cinching the knot, you run the lure through the water to see how "good" it looks. If there is a lure that looks sexier coming through the water than the "broken-back", I am yet to see it. The wiggle produced by this lure is beyond enticing, and the light balsa body enters the water with barely a ripple. The "broken-back" swims nothing like a fish, yet this is often the lure I start the day with and almost always the lure I turn to when the fishing gets tough. Anything that looks this good coming through the water gives a fisherman confidence!

 

BEST SEASONS AND SITUATIONS

This monster largemouth resisted a couple topwater twitches, but fell victim to the famous Rapala wobble once I started reeling. As you can tell from the surrounding cover, I got rather lucky to get this fish in the boat.

    The Rapala floater is at its best from late spring through mid-fall. For largemouths, any water temperature above 70 degrees is ideal. For other black bass species, water temperatures above 65 degrees are preferable. Water visibility should be at least a foot.

    The "broken-back" is essentially a topwater bait, but will dive to depths of almost two feet on a swift retrieve. As with most surface baits, the Rapala floater is best early and late in the day. Remember, however, that river bass tend to remain a bit more active throughout the day than their impoundment brethren, and a well-placed "broken-back" twitched gingerly near cover will often draw a strike during the middle of the day in mid-summer.

TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

This nice Apalachee River largemouth hit on the second twitch. This lure rules.

    The Rapala "broken-back" is what I call a "confidence" lure. If the bass are fairly active and shallow, and if the water is warm and relatively clear, I expect to catch fish on this lure. If bass are not responding to the floater, I am also confident that they will not be much interested in other topwater offerings either. Remember, NOT catching fish tells us almost as much as catching them does. Move a little lower in the water column with a spinnerbait, jig, or worm if topwaters fail to produce.

    Having said that, it is tough to fish a "broken-back" incorrectly. This lure can be twitched or jerked and is flat deadly on a slow, steady retrieve. Experiment to see what the fish want. Normally, I cast the floater as tight to cover as possible, let it rest for a second or two, twitch it a couple times, and bring it back with a slow, steady retrieve. Bass normally hit after a twitch or during the first few feet of the retrieve. When reeling past midstream objects, pause the retrieve and allow the lure to float to the surface. Bass have trouble resisting this!

    The absolute best situation to find is a log extending a yard or two from the bank with moderate current. Position yourself upstream from the log an cast to the bank a few feet upstream of the log. Twitch the lure lightly, then allow it to drift back against the bank. When the lure drifts down to the log, point your rod tip toward midstream and twitch the lure so it slowly works its way down the log from the bank toward midstream, never moving more than six inches from the log. No self-respecting bass should be able to resist this presentation!

    The Rapala floater is best fished cross current or downstream, presentations that allow the current to help keep the lure in the strike zone and maximize that wonderful wobble. Casting directly upstream forces the angler to reel faster than the current in order to achieve the best lure action, and this lure is most effective at slower speeds. The "broken-back" may not be the best choice in heavy current for the same reason, although the largest shoal bass GRF has personally witnessed being caught came out of a swift shoal in the upper Ocmulgee River.

    Another reason GRF loves the "broken-back" is because they are tough to hang up. If you are about to reel it into an underwater brushpile, simply let it float to the surface and crawl it over. If you keep this lure out of the trees, the "broken-back" is almost idiot proof!

    A rather light lure, the Rapala jointed minnow is best used with spinning tackle and monofilament no heavier than 12 lb. test, although products such as Fireline and Spiderwire allow anglers to use heavier lines without sacrificing action. Adding a split ring to the lure also creates a wider wobble and works well on the slower largemouth streams of the Piedmont region.

    Lure color really doesn’t seem to matter, although most anglers seem to stick to the silver and gold colors. Match the size floater you use to the size fish you expect to catch and the size of the baitfish you notice. Remember that spots and shoal bass have smaller mouths than largemouths, so size your lure accordingly. These lures usually run perfectly straight from the box so modifications are usually not necessary. A particularly anal GRF member uses a permanent marker to paint tiger stripes on his Rapalas, but this person has too much free time anyway.

 
 

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