How to Fish a Jigging Rap?

 Jigging Raps are a staple for big walleyes, but to get the most out of them, take the fish’s temperature. Photo Credit - Ben Larson - In-Depth Media Productions

Jigging Raps are a staple for big walleyes, but to get the most out of them, take the fish’s temperature. Photo Credit - Ben Larson - In-Depth Media Productions

Karl J. asks:

I have been ice fishing with jigging raps for a couple years without success. What are a few jigging cadences to try with the jigging rap that will help my catch rate increase? Thank you for any information you provide.

Great question Karl. 

Jigging raps are great lures I’ve been fishing a long time, especially for panfish, but have really re-discovered using them over the past few years for walleyes.  A trip with Grant Sorenson a few years ago triggered some extra looks from me, and I kept finding myself using it more and more.  Especially as zebra mussel infested lakes become clearer, water bodies like Mille Lacs, Leech, and even Pepin have become better jig-rap lakes at least for me.  I think that has something to do with the way the lure aggressively swings, zips, and darts around, triggering reaction strikes from walleyes that get a great visual on the lure.

Keep in mind, there’s a lot to the rod and line combination.  The new St. Croix Search Bait and Outside Eye Rods were designed for this lure and others in the same weight/displacement category.  I’m pairing it with Sufix Fluoroclear and in deeper water I like that there’s a bit of flex and stretch, but not too much. 

Something that will help you unlock some great cadences is literally just studying it on an underwater camera.  Last year I tested some new baits and kind of have it down to a process at this point.  I get in a comfortable place, either wheelhouse or portable, and drop that Marcum Quest Camera.  Examine everything from big rips to small shakes, and everything in between, exactly as a fish would see it.  Learn what it takes to rock a bait back and forth, and specifically for the jigging rap, how to swim it in a circle.  Practice those and know what the bait does so you can pull the camera so it won’t spook walleyes later with fish on screen. 

Keep in mind that it’s not summer, and a fish’s metabolism is not at the same rate either.  Fish can be aggressive, but overall you won’t fish a jigging rap in the winter with the same amount of lift/swing that you would an open water setup.  What relative big swings you do are for drawing in fish, but the jigging rap can scare more fish than it catches if you continue to rip with fish on screen.  Smaller lifts and slack can be too aggressive too, as without knowing where the bait is darting you can actually turn them off by having it unnaturally charge them.  Once a fish is on your flasher, higher above them is a safe zone, and I usually only drop to reset the cadence or pound the bottom and stir up sediment, the latter happening only after a fish is starting to drift off screen.  From there, I try to unlock that rocking motion as best possible, relying on my underwater camera work to inform that jigging stroke. 

As always, take a fish’s temperature and interpret the aggressiveness of the mark.  My biggest fish on a jigging rap is also my biggest walleye to date, nearly a 13lb fish from Lake Erie that came among a flurry of 3 fish that went well over 25lbs.  Those fish reacted like bait perch, flying around the graph, and vapor-trailing up to smash baits from 5-7 feet below.  Big rips didn’t intimidate them, and drew the attention of that school I’m convinced.  Conversely, last winter on Mille Lacs I was having more success fishing it with a few darts and more subtle dancing in circles, then just quivering it rapidly with fish on screen.  Point being – each fish and water body is different, and what works one place may not work well in another.  Getting good with that lure, then offering fish a variety of looks is usually the key to success.  Target-rich environments help narrow down the winning look that much more quickly.

Good luck, and keep at it!

Joel    

How to Keep Your Otter Lightweight

 Here’s the bare-bones XT Cabin in an X-Over. Adding some lightweight accessories to it really extends the fishability of this house!  Photo Credit - Ben Larson - In-Depth Media Productions

Here’s the bare-bones XT Cabin in an X-Over. Adding some lightweight accessories to it really extends the fishability of this house!

Photo Credit - Ben Larson - In-Depth Media Productions

Kyle S. asks:

Hey Joel, I’m moving from a hub to a flip over. I’m looking at the new xover pro cabin. Besides hyfax and a cover, what are must haves for the sled? Sportsman caddy? Led light? Cargo bin? Thanks! I’ll be moved by human power so trying to stay light as can be.

Great question Kyle, and good choice as the Otter X-over series is lightest in class among comparably sized flip-style shelters.

The Pro is nice with the bucket seats, but the XT will offer some weight savings and I actually prefer the bench personally. Don't worry about the hyfax, at least initially. Unless traveling consistently over gravel, ramp concrete, or ground, I've found that they're a nice accessory but you can do without if looking to shave weight. Not to mention, you can always add later.

Consider shaving out the caddy as well. Though it’s one of my favorite accessories, you won’t use it on an XT series anyway as there’s no center aluminum bar to connect it to. That said, make sure you have a hitch and hitch pivot (for the times you WILL have access to snowmobile/atv).

Instead of the caddy, I'd get both the 3 pocket cargo net and the overhead storage net, along with shelter hooks - all of which are nearly weightless. I equip every house I own with them, as they’re nearly essential for the way I fish. It just so happens you can do so with little weight being added. The 3 pocket cargo net holds supplies of all kinds (some of the stuff I’d have in the caddy). The overhead storage net is so incredibly nice for drying gloves, hats, etc. The shelter hooks I use as rod holders, and more importantly, in the back high corners of the shelter as a place to hang up the jackets we wear outside but are more comfortable without when fishing inside.


The LED light kit is awesome, but the battery to power it will cost you some weight, and you'll already be adding an auger, heater, rods, electronics, etc. I'd say to start here, and add other items later if you feel you need them.

Joel

What Features for Your Yetti?

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I seen you have a yetti. I’m having one built right now. Anything you did or didn’t do or wanted to do after the fact? It’s going to the finisher in the next couple weeks. Thanks!

Dave D.

 

Thanks for the note Dave, it’s a good one.  I credit you for doing your homework and asking lots of questions as these are big decisions you want to get right the first time.  I’m actually in the process of trading off last year’s Yetti and ordering a new one as well, so your timing is perfect.  Here’s how I’ll break it down:

Primary Use – I think you have to be really honest with yourself on current use and what your schedule allows.  I know I had planned on camping a bunch with ours, and because of my open-water fishing habit, I did so a bit more sparingly than planned.  Instead, I’m using it more for hunting trips (spring and fall), as well as a few summer camping trips, though my primary use is ice-fishing.  Focus then on maximizing features for the primary use part of your buy.

Doing Again - Here’s the add-ons I’ll be doing again:

  • Summer Package – A/C, awning, vent fan in bath, exterior outlet, etc. allow for the best full season use.  I wouldn’t order without.

  • Electronics Package – This should be considered standard, great add

  • Lighting Package – Ambient interior lighting is really great, and the perimeter light strip helps people who are meeting you on the lake find your Yetti.

  • Small Flip-up Table near front door – extra surface is great

  • Bunk Ladder – stows great and way safer for the kids

  • Rear View Camera System – Really handy in tight quarters, and great for trailering down the road!

  • Window Shades – Really great to moderate the amount of light on really bright days

  • Spare Tire Mount – Never had to use it, will be happy to have it if I ever do!

Maybe Not - Here’s the add-ons I did last year that I likely won’t be doing again:

  • Ramp Door Screen – This is an incredible add-on if you’re doing more camping and taking advantage of it, but I could probably do without.

  • Cutting board sink insert – I ended up just doing food prep on a regular cutting board

  • Full Bathroom – I didn’t know where to add this one because I’m on the fence still.  A full bathroom with all of the hookups is phenomenal for extended summer use.  We used our facilities about 3 times this past summer and though we were happy to have them, the State Parks where we camped had their own.  It’s not a need, but I can see especially in other campgrounds or when away from civilization this would be great.  We didn’t use them in the winter, and many folks are using a portable toilet in the same space without the provided toilet, shower, sink, etc.  This is something to strongly consider.

Non- Factory Add-Ons - There’s just a ton of great ways to modify your Yetti to any use you can think of – check out this article for some ideas that helped me equip mine!

ASK YOUR DEALER EVERYTHING! - Make SURE to pick the brain of your dealer.  All of my best questions were answered easily because they help people make these decisions (and use the product) themselves a great deal.  My dealer, Casey Boutain of Glacial Lakes Dock - has a direct connection to the Yetti factory and just lives to help people with these questions.  He’s not close in location to me, but has been a great help in selection of a house that fits my family.

Joel 

Best Wheelhouse Camera?

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John W. asks:

Hey Joel - I saw you got a Yetti last year and am wondering what underwater camera you’d recommend for inside of a permanent. We mainly fish for walleyes on Mille Lacs but sometimes fish for panfish nearby.

Thanks,

John

Thanks for the question John. I’d consider two options, one mobile unit for panfish and another system for the house, but would lean most heavily towards what you do most. That sounds like fishing on Mille Lacs. Fair word of warning, walleyes are notoriously camera-shy, so always be ready to pull the camera if you see fish come near baits but get nervous.

That said, a quality camera for the house is an investment to better fishing no matter where you’re at, regardless of species. Perch aren’t usually worried about the camera, and I know you probably run into them a fair amount out there as well. Not to mention, so often the camera is used just to confirm the presence of fish or ID them, let alone observe the area you’re fishing for rocks, gravel, etc.

The big issue in past years has been camera quality of image, especially at depths like you fish in Mille Lacs. This problem is exacerbated, even in the shallows, when taking a non-HD image, and blowing it up to a big-screen TV as are so popular in todays wheelhouses. Marcum has a new camera called the Quest that I tested all last year and was very impressed by, especially when plugging into the big screen on my Yetti. It’s the first HD camera to my knowledge, that actually allows an HD image to be ported to your TV screen, via an HDMI cable. All of that means the clearest and cleanest image I’ve seen from an underwater camera, up on the TV screen - to date.

If you’re less concerned about porting the image to a TV, then I’d opt for mobility and pick from either the Recon 5 or Recon 5+. Both are extremely capable and portable units that will work for panfish outside of the house, just as well as they’ll work inside. The major difference in the 5+ is that it has on screen temp, depth, and direction display, which can be critical components for chasing big panfish, especially in weeds. It also has a DVR to record what you’re seeing if that’s of interest. If you plan on bringing it inside, I’d opt for a mount like this - which will keep it steady and pointed in the right direction for you at all times.

Whether you’re viewing the image on the big screen or natively, there’s some great options out there these days.

Joel

Which Croix Custom Ice (CCI) Rod?

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Matt R. asks:

I saw St. Croix released their new CCI rods. I just had a couple of questions in regards to them.

First, as far as for panfish what rod would you recommend for fishing tungsten flys, jigs, smaller spoons, and number three rip n raps. I would also like to be able to see the bite.

The other rod would be for walleyes. This I would be fishing number 4 rip n raps, 1/8 spoons, jigging raps. Which one of the CCI’s would you suggest for this type of fishing. Thanks for your reccomendations! I look forward to hearing back from you! Thanks, Matt Rischette

Appreciate the questions Matt, and I know there’s lots of people that will want to know the same thing. You’ve highlighted a number of techniques for several species. I want to point out that there would likely be a few ways to address these needs, depending on what you want to spend and how much you do each of them.

You may be able to get away with 2-3 rods that are multi-faceted enough to satisfy many different roles, but keep in mind that these rods were designed to address specific situations, and the very best experience may involve getting a rod for each style or bait you’re fishing. I’ll break them up in that scenario to address strong suits for each rod/technique, but ultimately it’s up to you as to how much you fish each tactic and whether or not a rod-per-bait is the right approach for each person.

  • Panfish Tungsten flies and Jigs - You indicated you wanted to see the bite, and in that scenario, the Tungsten Tamer (CI28MLXF) is the far away best choice. This rod was crafted to deflect easily enough to detect both “up-hits” and standard bites, while standing up to the weight of today’s tungsten jigs and not overload. More importantly, the backbone of the rod and where in the hookset that power is felt, will make it one of the most popular panfish rods in the lineup.

  • Small Spoons - Tony spent alot of time with this rod, and without speaking for him I know he spends a good deal of his winter for perch and panfish with micro spoons. The Micro Spoon Rod (CI28LXF) addresses the popularity of tiny spoons being used for big gills and other panfish, that can often be lighter than the tungsten jigs we’re using. This rod’s power accounts for that and just like the Tungsten Tamer, properly handles the weight of the bait used for each technique.

  • #3 Rippin Raps - This bait is a feel bait. Pull it through the water column at even a slight “rip” and you' know what I mean. It would stand to reason that you’d want a feel-rod to pair it with. If you fish the smaller #3 alot, or simply prefer feel over the visual for most of your fishing, the Pan Finesse (CI24LXF) is the right tool to use. Taking a cue from their open water sticks, no one does a true XF action like St. Croix. You’ll see that same lightning fast deflection in this feel-rod, and specifically for this bait, you want to know the nuance of this bait’s action at all times. Most people overwork these baits, as they strive to feel that vibration, leading to the bait tangling itself or just scaring too many fish away. Feeling the subtlety of a Rippin’ Rap in action leads to working it more properly, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the smaller Jigging Raps with this rod either.

  • 1/8 oz. Spoon Rod - Pat Smith of the old Thorne Bros. days really changed my line of thinking on these styles of rods maybe 15 years or so ago. Take a look at your ice tackle, and you might find that 60-75% of what you own for perch and eyes anyway, is of the 1/8 oz. size, which makes finding the perfect rod to fish that size paramount to your success for those species. The Perch/Eye Spoon rod (CI28MLF) was designed to be an 1/8 oz. staple, and swiss army knife rod for most walleye applications. If you own one walleye rod from this lineup, this is likely the one.

  • #4 Rippin’ Raps and Jigging Raps - Both baits will fish better on the Search Bait Rod (CI32MF) given the weight of them, the power of these rods (M) and action (F), with the action being a key component. Ultra fast actions are the rage for ice rods, and though they certainly have their time and place, too fast for crankbaits in open water is just the same as too fast with hard baits through the ice. Keep in mind, a St. Croix fast action is already a touch faster than most manufacturers, but too fast prevents maximum swing, action, and fish-landed. I’m of the opinion that a fast action keeps more fish buttoned all the way to the hole, which is a huge consideration with hard baits and hard walleye mouths.

  • Bigger Jigging Raps and #4 Rippin’ Raps - Certainly the largest baits, and even the #4 Rippin’ Rap work better on the open ice with a slightly longer rod. Think trophy scenarios, big head-shakes, and trolling the open ice. If a good portion of your fishing involves these baits on these waters, I’d have no hesitation in recommending the Outside Eye (CI36MF).

So there you have it, it’s what I’ve been fishing for the same baits in last winter’s testing phases, as well as what I’ll be stringing up this winter. Let me know if you have any followup questions, and kudos to you for doing your homework, as pairing the best rod to the job at hand will always lead to a better experience and more fish.

Joel

Fishing Log Hack

Tom M. asks:

This season I’ve been pushing myself to explore new fishing spots rather than relying on the regulars. I’ve found that between contour maps and a few DNR resources there is a ton of great information out there to prepare for a trip, rather than walking in blind (thanks for the resources, btw).

With all the new information both from the prep and actual fishing I’m struggling to stay organized. Navionics markers are great, but just scratch the surface. Do you have any tips of how to keep fishing records aside from a manual log book? Things such as trip dates, fish caught, successful lures, weather, ice conditions, etc. would be nice to look back on when planning future trips. Thanks!

This is a great question.  I find myself wishing at times I still kept a written log, as especially in a wheelhouse, when you have time on-ice you can really get detailed.  I did this for two seasons religiously in 2002 and 2003, and I can attest from experience that it makes you a better angler.  Not only do you record what you're seeing, you're exercising the idea of being observational, which makes you look at all of these details in a deeper manner. 

There's some great online apps like Fishidy, Pro Angler, etc., with each having their own Pros/Cons.  The upside for many of them, map-based, log information in pre-formatted entry forms, but the downside is often lots of stuff you don't need.

These days, our phones go with us wherever we go, and there's a great built in camera.  Photos tell the story, and more than anything, help jog our memories when we forget some crucial details.  Unlocking these key parts of your brain that store the information is something a simple photograph can do, so at least take plenty of pictures.

Even better, I've been using the Google Keep feature on my Android phone to gather some great information.  I can use it on my phone, then log-in at anytime from anywhere to see the information - https://keep.google.com/

It really organizes a few quick text blurbs, along with any photos or other information you have.  I can take screen grabs of the current weather, Navionics app location, along with some fish and bait pictures, then store that to a single Note I write for myself.  It's been a quick and handy way for me to stay organized and on top of what I do!

Marcum LX-7 Gain Settings

Anthony V. asks:

Hi Joel sorry to bug you had a question about the new lx7 lithium combo. In the settings do you know what the difference between sonar 1 and sonar 2 are ? I could not find it anywhere. Thanks

Each gain option on the LX-6, LX-7, or LX-9 represents a different gain curve, 1 shifts things less sensitive. Use it with a huge lure or target rich environment, super, super hard bottom, tons of signals dual returns, things like that. Gain 2 is a more normal curve assumed with most of the rest of Marcum products.

Good luck! Joel

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Flasher Upgrade - Which One?

Bobby K. asks:

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Hey Joel,

In the market to upgrade flasher. Looking at the LX5i vs the new M5. Is the only difference the brushless technology in the M5? Is the brushless tech worth the $150 extra? Looking to put the one I decide on on the new shuttle. 

Thanks

Bobby

Thanks for the question Bobby - The primary difference on the M5 is brushless tech, but colors are better defined and brighter yet through a patented design called the "light pipe."  Detectable to the avg. angler?  Yes, but moreso in a side by side comparison.  Staying ahead of the tech curve is a philosophical question mostly.  You’re always going to pay more to be on the cutting edge, but depending on your view, it may or may not be worth it.  What I can tell you about the M5 is that there’ll be less antiquated parts to worry about in years to come, as some of those parts are getting as hard to find as an 8-track tape player.