Troll Shad Raps shallow for early-summer walleyes

While Shad Rap®s are legendary cold-water crankbaits, you’ll enjoy a hot walleye bite with them in warm weather too. When water temps are in the high 60s to low 70s on your favorite lake, troll the incomparable balsa baits at 1.75 to 2.25 mph in 4-8ft and you’ll catch a boatload.

“This early-summer period is when the No. 5 Shad Rap trolling bite seems to be the best, that’s when it really shines,” says Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Legendary Guide Tom Neustrom. “Fish are active. They’re looking for something to eat. They’re just a little bit more aggressive.”

The benchmark that other crankbaits are measured by, Shad Raps are innovative where others are only imitative. Built from premium balsa wood, they twitch, quiver and wobble on the retrieve with a lifelike action unmatched by any rival. Copycat crankbaits not made from balsa wood might look the part, but they won’t produce as many bites.

The buoyancy of a balsa body allows a Shad Rap to deflect with an unrivaled action when it bangs into bottom structure and cover. It also allows Shad Raps to back out of shallow cover better than the copycats, floating up and minimizing snags.

A 2-inch No. 5 Shad Rap will run 4-9ft deep. A 2 ½-inch No. 6 Shad Rap will run 5-10ft. Neustrom favors the No. 5 for this program.

“Unless I’m on a big, deep, clear lake, I catch an awful lot of fish shallow throughout the whole season, and especially in the summer,” says Neustrom, who guides on lakes large and small around Grand Rapids, MN. “It’s amazing how many fish we catch in four to eight feet of water in the summertime – and during the day too – especially if the water’s got a little bit of turbidity to it, a little bit color to it. When it’s really crystal clear, it can be tougher.”

In that 4-8ft range, Neustrom trolls Shad Raps 1.75 to 2.25 mph. “You can run them up to 2.5 mph and get bit, but I kind of like that slightly slower range,” he says.

You won’t need to let out much line when trolling a No. 5 Shad Rap for shallow walleye – 60 to 70 feet should suffice; 100 feet or more is often too much. “A line-counter reel is invaluable”, Neustrom says. “After getting a few bites, it will help you replicate exactly the depth at which the fish are biting.”

“If you’re getting bit at 60, 75 or 90 feet back from the boat, you don’t want to be guessing when you send it back there after getting a bite – you want to put it right back into the strike zone. A line-counter reel makes that easy, and that will put more fish in the boat.”

Neustrom trolls Shad Raps shallow on 10-pound-test Sufix® 832 Advanced Superline® braid tipped with an 8- to 10-foot leader of 10-pound-test Sufix® Castable Invisiline™ 100% Fluorocarbon. “If you go down too light on line size or up too much, you can really change the action of the bait, and you don’t want to do that,” he advises.

See Rapala® Shad Rap®

See Sufix® 832 Advanced Superline®

See Sufix® Castable Invisiline™ 100% Fluorocarbon


  1. I’ve been using shad raps for walleyes for years in lakes and rivers and they are my #1 crankbait. I have over 100 of them in soo many different sizes. Colors and styles. In lakes with weed growth starting in early May, I’ll use the sr7 jointed. To get to 10-12 feet. As the weeds grow, I’ll go to the sr5 jointed or the balsa #5. Perch and silver/black are the go to colors. THANK YOU for producing such a fantastic lure for sooo many years.

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