Tackle Talk Thursday! This is something I’m going to try to do here up until my open water season takes off to help you all outfit your tackle boxes with some go-to lures that have worked for me through the years! Any input or ideas would be greatly appreciated from you all on future baits you would like to see. To start things off I will be talking about the Rapala DT-4 this week.
This small compact crank bait is probably one of my favorite go-to search baits on the market right now! To start this is a very small profile bait, 2 inches in length, weighing 5/16 oz and dives to 4 feet. It has a nice side to side wobble to it when its coming thru the water along with a rattle chamber to get this bait noticed by feeding fish. It also floats when not reeled so it allows it to not suspend and float up as you bang it off weeds or rocks. Now for fishing in the metro area of Minnesota on a lot of lakes such as Lake Waconia or Lake Minnetonka where the milfoil grows very thick in the summer this bait is a must have. I have found several ways to fish it which makes it a very versatile bait when searching for schools of fish setting up on shallow flats.
Now one way I find myself fishing this little bullet is by finding big thick weed flats where the weeds are down a couple of feet from the surface. Now with this I will generally use a 7’ 6” spinning rod Med-light. The 7’6” and soft tip allows a person to cast these smaller lightweight lures a good distance. I use this bait as a search bait to find where these fish are setting up. You can cast shallow and cover a lot of water very quickly. Now the trick to this approach is to not reel this in super fast because it will get caught up in these thick weed beds like other cranks baits do. I fish it slow, couple cranks and then once you feel the weeds stop! The beautiful thing with these baits is once you let off they will float back up to the surface so you don’t bury them deep into the weeds and they get hung up. If you do snag some weeds with these, I’ve found a quick rip almost like you fish a lipless crank bait will clear them. You can tell very easy when using the lighter tip rods when the hooks are fouled cause the vibration of the bait goes away. Like most crank bait fishing throwing those pauses in there is crucial. A lot of bites will come on the pause! It’s as easy as chuck and wind until you find an area holding fish and then you can pick it apart with a slower technique to get the most out of that particular area.
Second way I fish this early in the year on lakes like Mille Lacs is fishing it in shallow rocky areas. Early in the year a lot of fish will be shallow around these rock filled areas. For this I use a little heavier rod being I don’t have to feel for weeds as much in these areas. I generally will use a med action 7’ more stout rod in this situation. Now my approach is to cast these in shallow and when I say shallow I’m talking 1’ of water shallow working my way out to 5-6’. This approach I do a few very fast cranks on my reel to get this bait to dive and bang into the rocks. Now when I feel it hitting the rocks I use that same stop approach as I do fishing it on weed beds. This allows that bait to pause and float back up off those rocks. Trick to this is practice feeling the bites because when you crank these fast into the rocks a lot of the time it will feel like a bite, best thing to do is pause it and if it’s still heavy set the hook. But I have found the more you can dig these into the bottom off rocks with pauses mixed in the more bites it will produce.
Now as far as colors go on these baits Rapala offers a ton of options. What I try to do is match the hatch as they call it. Go with whatever color resembles the bait they are eating in those areas. Some of my go-to’s around the metro area are, Bluegill, shad and silver. Now this all can change depending on conditions. Point is there are a ton of options in colors whichever lake you’re fishing.
Now for the downfalls of this bait I have only found 2 different ones. With these being a plastic molded bait they will crack banging them into rocks enough along with the bills on these baits will break off. I have broke a decent amount of them through the years but they work great for me and with the price point on them $4-$7 I don’t get super upset when it happens. Second downfall I’ve found is the stock hooks are weak. Like 75% of the crank baits when I buy them I change the hooks out to my 2x VMC trebles. Change the hooks so when you do get that bite of a lifetime you do not loose it due to a hook bending straight.
Overall the small compact design will not only get you the small mid sized fish but giants will bite these as well! I’ve caught several different species on these from bass, pike, muskie, crappie and walleyes. To me these are a must have in your tackle box to help pin point where fish are setting up on shallow flats or just catching feeding fish held up in shallow rock/sand flats. Hope this helps if your trying to put some new baits in your box before this open water season!