To catch big bass this spring, parallel shallow banks with a Rapala® BX® Brat square-bill and don’t be shy about crashing it into rocks, laydowns, dock posts and scattered grass. Most bites will come after those collisions.
“Any time you’re cranking, you’re going to get more bites when the bait’s deflecting,” explains Rapala Pro Gerald Swindle, 2004 and 2016 Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a 17-time Bassmaster Classic contender. “When the bait’s deflecting and having that erratic, bounce-off action, that’s when you trigger a lot of bites. That’s the key.”
Rapala BX Brat square-bill crankbaits feature a balsa-wood core within a brawny hard-plastic shell. Rapala’s balsa baits famously float up and back out of cover well, minimizing snags. Encasing their balsa core in armor allows Brats to bounce off cover and trigger bites without hanging up often and getting beat up.
“The Brat’s got all the characteristics of balsa, but with plastic on the outside to protect the bait,” explains Rapala Pro Mike Iaconelli, the only angler to have won a Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
To get the most bites, cast a BX Brat just past shallow rocks, laydowns, brush or submerged grass and retrieve it right over or through that cover.
“There’s really not a bad place you can throw it,” says Rapala Pro Randall Tharp, 2013 Forrest Wood Cup Champion and 4-time Bassmaster tournament winner. “Whether it’s just being grinded through the bottom or deflecting off a rock, a stump or a piece of grass.”
For the best results, cast a BX Brat parallel to the shore – rather than perpendicular – to ensure it makes bottom contact throughout the majority of your retrieve. It’s key to “keep your bait in the zone where you can keep contact with the bottom for as much of the cast as you can,” Swindle explains.
A modified square-bill lip – its comes to a slight point in the middle – causes a BX Brat to carom off cover differently than other square-bill baits. “That’s what’s triggers those reaction bites,” says Rapala Pro Ott DeFoe, 2011 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year and 4-time Bassmaster tournament winner.
Unique flat sides and a V-cut belly give the BX Brat additional swimming action. Its hard-plastic shell adds weight, helping it cast “like a dream,” DeFoe says.
To get bites on a BX Brat you won’t need to add much additional action with wrist maneuvers, rod movement or stops and starts, says Rapala Pro Jacob Wheeler, 2012 Forrest Wood Cup Champion and a 2-time Bassmaster tournament winner. “You simply tie it on, you cast it out there, you wind it in,” he says. “You’re going to get bites.”
BX Brats are available in two models. One dives to three feet, the other to six feet. Both measure two inches, weigh 3/8th of an ounce and come armed with two sticky sharp VMC® No. 6 Black Nickel Treble round-bend hooks. As near-shore depths fluctuate, you can change models and line size accordingly to ensure your Brat is scraping bottom throughout the majority of your retrieve. “Line size can control how deep it runs,” Swindle explains. “I’ll rig up different rods with different line sizes to cover one foot out to eight foot.”
BX Brats are available in 12 color patterns: Blue Ghost, Blaze, Bone Craw, Carbon, Delta, Haymaker, Homer’s Buddy, Mossy, Pearl Gray Shiner, Tamale, Silver and Rock Solid. More often than not, natural color patterns are best in clear to lightly stained water, and brighter patterns are best in stained to muddy water.