There’s no hotter bait to catch bass in cold, colored water than a Rapala® DT®-6 in the red-orange Demon color pattern. That crankbait is Rapala Pro Gerald Swindle’s pre-spawn “MVP” lure.
“From January through the end of March, you’re going to catch ‘em on it,” says Swindle, a two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “From a light stain, to stained, to muddy – if you’ve got any color in the water, you better tie on Demon DT. There’s something about it that’s magic.”
“DT” stands for “dives to.” A DT-6, a round-lip crankbait, dives to a max depth of six feet. “Demon” is an “Ike’s Custom Ink” color pattern designed by Rapala Pro Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, a Bassmaster Classic champ and Angler of the Year. It’s Swindle’s go-to DT-6 color pattern for busting big bags of pre-spawn bass.
“I think the red glow of it and that purple hue on the back helps those bass see it coming through the water,” Swindle says. “Something about that color, the brightness of it, turns on the aggressive nature of the bass. You can tell, the way the bite feels, that bass is like ‘That red is ticking me off, I’m going to eat it!’”
Keep in mind, Swindle notes, that fish see colors differently than do fishermen – especially in stained to muddy water – so don’t balk at the brightness of that Demon paint job. “To the casual angler, that color might look too bold, but the results you put in your livewell are bold also,” he says. “Don’t fear the Demon. Trust it.”
Built of balsa wood, Rapala’s signature material, a DT-6 wobbles while swimming and deflects off cover to trigger bites from pre-spawn bass in both grass and rock lakes. Swim it over the top of submerged grass, making occasional contact and ripping free, but make constant contact with the bottom when fishing rock and gravel.
When targeting grass with a Demon DT-6, “you want to be able to touch it without eating it,” Swindles instructs. “You don’t want to come back with a mouthful every cast, you want to be able to hit it, clear it, and reel it again.” In rocky lakes with no vegetation, target 45-degree-slope banks with boulders “and try to crank the rocks up,” he says. “Contact with the rocks triggers a lot of your strikes.”
For pre-spawn bass, Swindle throws DT-6’s with a 7-foot, medium-action, glass bait-casting rod. He retrieves them with a 5.6:1 gear-ratio bait-casting reel. “You want a pretty limber rod for winter-time cranking, because it lets the fish really take the bait,” he says. “You don’t want too stiff a rod.”
When he’s cranking a Demon DT on a rocky bottom in five feet of water or so, Swindle throws it on 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line. When’s he ticking the top of three-foot-tall grass in six feet of water or so, he’ll tie onto 14-pound-test flouro. When pre-spawn bass are feeding in short grass in around three feet of water, he’ll upsize his line to as much as 17-pound-test.
“If you’re coming back with a ton of grass every cast, you need to bump up your line size,” Swindle instructs. “You gotta adjust your line size to adjust to the height of the grass.”
Time to order new line? You’ll love Sufix® Advance® Fluorocarbon for crankin’ in bass.