Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s the smaller baits that catch the big guns. To help anglers load the boat when fish are chasing small forage, Rapala® created its Ultra Light line-up.
In certain times of year, even the biggest fish will key more on fry and young-of-year baitfish than larger, mature forage. So matching the hatch requires scaling down in lure size.
“When you hear people talking ‘match the hatch,’ they’re often talking more about color,” says Bernie Schultz, a seven-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “But matching the size of the forage that fish are eating is equally important in getting bites.”
So the next time fish turn down your favorite go-to baits in traditional sizes, tie on an Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap, Ultra Light Pop, Ultra Light Shad or Ultra Light Minnow.
Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap®
A smaller version (size 4) of Rapala’s Rippin’ Rap® (sizes 5-7), the Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap flutters on the drop with a hard-vibrating action accented by a loud, distinctive BB rattle system.
“A Rippin’ Rap is an aggressive bait, and when the fish are aggressive, they have no problem committing to a No. 5 or a No.7,” says in-demand Minnesota fishing guide Brad Hawthorne. “But the No. 4, the Ultra Light, allows you to have an option with that reliable Rippin’ Rap action, but a bit quieter, presentation.”
Featuring flat, skinny sides and a deep-belly profile designed to dive and rip, the Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap flutters on the drop with a hard-vibrating action accented by a loud, distinctive BB rattle system. Textured scales and gills with deep-set 3D holographic eyes seal the deal.
A great multi-species bait, the Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap measures 1 ½ inches, weighs 3/16 oz. and comes with No. 10 and No. 12 fast-piercing VMC black-nickel, round-bend hooks. They come in 10 fish-attracting colors: Chrome, Chrome Blue, Firetiger, Gold Chrome, Green Tiger UV, Glow Yellow Perch, Helsinki Shad, Orange Tiger UV, Pearl Grey Shiner, Pink Tiger UV.
Ultra Light Pop
When big fish are following tiny forage, you gotta go small for big success. To match the hatch, tie on a Rapala® Ultra Light Pop.
Measuring a compact 1 ½ inches, Ultra Light Pops weigh 1/8 oz. — just enough weight to ensure a long, smooth cast to the strike zone.
Featuring a deep, cupped lip with a thin, flat chin, it will elicit epic reaction bites from big bass and slab panfish. Cast it as far as you can — especially in clear water — then wait for the ripples to clear. Then, using your wrists, pop it two or three times and let it rest again – then repeat. It will produce a popping action that draws in bass from afar.
“The key is the sound — that blooping, popping, spitting sound,” Schultz explains. “It sounds like schooling or injured shad or other baitfish surfacing.” Gamefish are programmed to react when they hear a disturbance on the surface like that. “It signals an opportunity for an easy meal,” Schultz explains. “And that can really trigger those bigger fish.”
Target submerged wood, brush and rocks, docks, tops and edges of humps and drop-offs on the edges of flats. In most cases, cast the Ultra Light Pop past your target and then pop it back to the strike zone and pause it – sometimes for just a second, other times for as much as a minute.Vary your retrieve cadence until you get a strike. Then duplicate what worked until it’s no longer effective. Then begin experimenting again.
Effective in both clear and lightly stained water with a light chop, the Ultra Light Pop is outfitted with an internal rattle, 3D holographic eyes and two No. 12 VMC black-nickel round-bend treble hooks. It’s available in eight color patterns: Clown, Lime Frog, Chrome, Gold Chrome, Firetiger, Yellow Perch, Frog and Silver Blue.
Ultra Light Shad
When fishing for early-season panfish, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Legendary Guide Tom Neustrom targets laydowns and other shallow wood with Ultra Light Shads.
“That kind of cover can hold fish early in the year,” he says. Especially submerged trees with branches or roots that aren’t exceptionally thick.
“Sometimes when those fish are up in the wood, I’ll throw that Ultra Light up inside of that cover,” he says. “But you’ve got to be real specific on where you’re throwing it, because you don’t want to get snagged up.”
At a mere 1/8 oz, the Ultra Light Shad is Rapala’s smallest shad-profile bait. Running true even at high speeds, its slow sink when paused is often just the ticket when fish aren’t aggressively feeding.
“Stop and start it — don’t completely retrieve it right in,” Neustrom instructs. “Crank it maybe four cranks and let it sit for just a second and then start cranking it again, four, five or six cranks. You want to try and change the cadence on it a little bit.”
Ultra Light Shads run four to five feet deep, measure 1 1/2 inches long and feature two No. 10 VMC treble hooks.
Ultra Light Minnow
Eliciting big action in a small bait, the Ultra Light Minnow is the new gold standard for productive, small-profile hard baits.
Featuring a weighted body that casts incredibly far for such a small bait, the Ultra Light Minnow is designed to work best in two to three feet of water. An excellent choice for streams, small ponds and shallow bays and shorelines, it features a unique lip design that creates an enticing wobbling and rolling action.
External etched scales, gills and fins work in union with 3D holographic eyes and incredible finishes to attract attention. Perfect for panfish and trout, each lure is hand-tuned and tank-tested for ultra perfection right out of the box.