An assortment of Rapala Shad Rap crankbaits.

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Every angler needs a stash of go-to lures. And in Idaho waters, it’s hard to find many baits as fishy and versatile as the Rapala Shad Rap crankbait.

As its name would suggest, this lure is meant to be casted and then retrieved—or cranked—at a moderate pace. Diving depth varies based on the size of the lure, what kind of line you are using, and the speed of your retrieve. But generally, the Shad Rap dives from 4 to 10 feet. It’s important to remember how deep crankbaits are meant to dive in order to avoid costly snags!

One common mistake I see anglers make with crankbaits is casting them out into deep water and reeling them straight in. There is usually a “strike zone” where the fish are feeding, and crankbaits often work best when they make occasional contact with the bottom. To get the most out of your cast, try making long, parallel casts that keep the bait in its target depth for virtually the entire retrieve. This is easier if you are fishing from a boat, which also makes it easier to rescue snagged lures.

To fish a Shad Rap in shallow, fast-moving water, here is a hack to try: Simply make a long cast downstream, relatively close to shore, and let the lure dance in the current. This helps avoid snags, and fish will still readily eat the lure!

Another way to fish the Shad Rap is to troll it behind a boat. If you let out 50 to 100 feet of line and troll between 1 and 2 MPH, the lure typically runs 10 to 12 feet deep. You can fish deeper by employing downriggers, but that’s usually not necessary. Trolling with Shad Raps and other crankbaits is a great way to efficiently cover water at large fisheries like C.J. Strike, Lake Cascade and Brownlee.

What kinds of fish will eat a Shad Rap? The short answer is virtually any gamefish! I most commonly use them to target crappie and perch while trolling large reservoirs; bass (especially smallmouth) while casting along rocky shorelines in the Snake River and its reservoirs; and trout while trolling in lakes or casting in fast-moving rivers. I’ve also caught catfish, walleye, pikeminnow and large bluegill on this lure.

Shad Raps cost about $8 and can be found in most tackle shops. They come in six sizes and more than 30 colors, and there is also a jointed (two-piece) option that adds more wiggle to the lure. For Idaho fishing, my favorite colors resemble perch, crayfish and bluegill—popular menu items for our predator fish. Tie one on next time you hit the water, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hooked. Tight lines!