Open Water Jigging Rap Walleye


Before I jump in to the meat and potatoes of this piece I’d like to point out that this is the first time I’ve ever penned a fishing article about a technique that I’ve only really just begun experimenting with. I’ll even go so far as to acknowledge that I’m arriving very late to this particular party knowing there’s more than a few savvy anglers have been using, and writing about, this particular pattern and presentation for a long, long time. There’s two key reasons I feel it appropriate to pen this article on this particular topic.

1 – Since Cal Svihel and I started to get serious about using the Jigging Rap for fall eyes in October, 2013 I haven’t had this much fun fishing at this time of year…. since I can’t remember when.

2 – If I found a way to overlook this presentation there’s a chance there’s quite a few people reading this article that find themselves in the same boat.

So how did it come to pass that both Cal and I went from veritable jigging rap rookies to making a serious attempt at adding this technique to our arsenal? Cal Svihel, In-Depth Outdoors Pro Staff and good friend, gets the credit for getting the ball rolling. If memory serves, Cal was just returning from a late season tournament where he had spent some time experimenting with the presentation while his tournament partner fished big minnows on a lindy rig. I remember Cal calling me and telling me “the Jigging Rap was hanging fish for fish” when presented alongside the tried and true redtail chub. At that point Cal had my attention. I like fishing big minnows in the fall but I hate the hassle of trying to find them as it often takes multiple stops at bait shops just to track down a dozen or two good redtails. And once you do find them then you’re looking at paying as much as $12 – $15/dozen. When finding bait becomes more of a challenge than actually catching the target species… I’m ready to pursue other options.

Based on our initial experimentation with this Jigging Rap presentation I feel I can break this article down into 4 basic parts – timing, location, jigging stroke and equipment. We’ve also included a companion video you’ll want to watch if you find some of your questions go unanswered in the article itself.

– Timing

I’m sure you can catch walleye on a Jigging Rap under a wide variety of situations and at just about any time of the year if one tries hard enough. Since our first outings using this presentation last October – 2013, we’ve been messing around with the Jigging Rap throughout the open water season and we’ve definitely noticed a peak time for its use. Late summer into fall seems to be the prime period where this lure absolutely shines. Once the water temps start to drop in September and the leaves on the trees start to change colors, our experience has been that’s when you want to be trying this presentation. As far as a peak water temperature is concerned I’ve noticed this bite seems to kick-off when water temps fall below 60-degrees and the bite only gets better as the water cools from there. As we all know, the Jigging Rap is a very good producer at first-ice so there is no lower threshold for this presentation to be effective. If you can get your boat on the water this presentation will be effective right up to ice up.

– Location

Two words sum things up from my experience – steep and deep. Steep breaks off of shorelines, points or mid-lake humps are ideal starting points. And when I say steep, I mean STEEP. You’re looking for pieces of structure where the contour lines basically stack up on top of each other making one thick, wide, black line before zooming in on the map. As far as depths are concerned, we’ve had our best success at depths of 22′ – 32′ with water clarity seeming to play a role in where an angler can expect to find active fish. In darker, stained bodies of water concentrate efforts in 12′ – 25′ whereas the fish will often be found on the plus side of 25′ in lakes with exceptional clarity. Early and late in the day the fish will make a move to shallower water than where you’ll find them mid-day which won’t come as a surprise to anyone that regularly spends time chasing Minnesota’s state fish.

– Jigging Stroke

There’s a wide range of factors that all converge to play a role in the way these baits are presented. Line type used and rod action will all have an impact on what it takes to “properly” fish this type of lure. When I say “properly” that isn’t to say there’s a wrong way to work a Jigging Rap… as long as it is catching fish. I have noticed the jigging stroke used by anglers will depend a great deal on the rod and line being used. Anglers fishing mono will use a much more forceful and aggressive upward swing with the rod tip to get their Jigging Rap to work the way they want due to the line stretch inherent in monofilament lines while anglers fishing braided line, with its limited capacity for stretch, will often use a much less exaggerated and slower jig stroke to accomplish the same intended motion. Rod action will also play a similar role. A rod with a slower action will require a more aggressive and pronounced jig stroke to achieve the desired effect while a rod with a very stiff, fast action will likely require an angler to ease off on the jig stroke a bit, particularly if a low-stretch line is used in combination.

What an angler is trying to accomplish is to make their Jigging Rap jump or explode up out of the bottom as if it was a startled baitfish attempting to flee from a predator that had just uncovered its hiding spot. When a Jigging Rap is allowed to settle to the bottom on a steep break, if only for a brief instant between jig strokes, it settles down into the silt or sand found in this type of area. When the lure is jigged again the lure jumps up out of the silt or sand, leaving a little puff of debris lingering above bottom to mark it’s former resting spot. Of course the Jigging Rap doesn’t flee away in a straight line. Instead it pops up off the bottom, darts straight away then starts to circle back towards its original starting point, which, to a hungry walleye, must look a lot like a fleeing baitfish that’s lost its bearing and doesn’t know which way to swim to get away. This explosive darting action followed by the circling motion of the Jigging Rap is a hard to resist combination for a hungry predator. Most hits will come at the precise instant when the Jigging Rap settles back down on the bottom between jigging strokes. More often than not an angler won’t feel the hit but will be greeted by a bent rod and a fish ready to tussle as their line comes tight for the next jig stroke!

– Equipment

As I stated earlier in this article, the line used and rod action plays a big role in this presentation. Because I fish the #7 (5/8th oz.) and the #9 (7/8th oz.) most of the time when using the Jigging Rap for walleye I wanted a rod that could handle the weight of these heavier baits. For this reason I opted for a 6’8″ St. Croix Legend Extreme Medium action as I felt this rod would do a better job handling these larger baits than would rods with a Medium Light action, which I felt would be too slow in the tip section to effectively “pop” the Jigging Raps up off the bottom the way I wanted.

I opted for 6/20 Sufix 832 for my main line as I wanted a low-stretch line, small diameter line that would provide great sensitivity and allow me to impart the erratic action I was looking for, without forcing me to overwork the rod. To finish things out, I knotted in a 6′ section of 12Lb Flourocarbon line to give me some added shock absorption as well as make the line near the bait all but invisible in the water. Cal approached things a bit differently in that he used a 2′ section of flourocarbon which he attached to his main line, also Sufix 832, using a small 30# ball bearing swivel. Both setups seems to work equally well.

If you watch the companion video to this article you’ll notice that both Cal and I used a jig stroke that is likely best described as a “quick lift” as apposed to a sharp or hard jigging stroke. With the medium action rods and no stretch line we really didn’t have to get too carried away with the movement to produce the desired action at the working end. Do know that if you opt to use mono, or a medium light action rod, you’ll likely have to make adjustments to your jigging stroke to compensate for those equipment choices.

I for one plan to continue to experiment with this presentation this fall in the hope that I can continue to improve my understanding of it for one simple reason – it flat out catches big fish, and lots of them. For those that keep their boats out of winter storage for as long as possible, there’s some great fishing to come. With the cooler temps we’re seeing this October, now’s the time to put this technique to use. Good fishing, all!


Profile Photo

James Holst

James began his fishing career as a fulltime fishing guide, spending more than 250 days a year on the water, coaching clients how to catch walleyes on the Upper Mississippi River and Minnesota‚Äôs Lake Mille Lacs. In 2000, he launched Full Bio ›


  1. James/Cal –

    Very cool video!
    I’ve been using raps for a few years now.
    1 question.

    I’ve never used the flouro leader like you do.
    How do you attach the leader to the suffix line? What kind of knot?

    Thanks in advance !

  2. Very cool! Like the article, and the video….. and I never even considered trying something like this. Next time out though… good chance I’ll devote a day to giving it a shot. Will be interesting the see how it works in a river as well.

  3. James,

    You and Cal put together a fantastic “How do they do that”? article and video for the Jiggn Raps…

    I have only used them for ice fishing… never open water !!!

  4. Haleysgold here’s what I have used for the super line to fluro-carbon leader connection, either a double surgeons knot or a back to back uni-knot. But I prefer to tie in a small #20 barrel swivel between the two as after a day of fishing the snap raps they seem to twist the suffix 832. With the barrel swivel no twists no problems.

  5. I posted my same question on the Open Water forum.

    Someone pointed out something I had missed in the video.
    Cal explains that he uses a barrel swivel between the 2 also, not tying them together. Which is what you saying also Glennr. Thanks!

    Very good idea since it prevents all the twisting the rap causes.

  6. There was a tournament won in bay de noc, nwt this year, using this style of bait. And I was in a tournament this summer, and the leaders were using jiggin raps. I have been giving this jiggin rap thing an honest try, and this video will help!

  7. Great read/video James,
    as you know, I am a avid user of “blade type” lures for similar fishing situations…both in moving and still waters. Two years ago some of us starting
    playing with the jigging raps and have had some great results also.

  8. I have been using these for over 20 years with great success. Two tips. Replace the center treble hook with one the next size larger and be sure to net them right away. As in the video, they throw the hooks pretty easily.

Leave a Comment