Ad from the 1977 Bass Pro Shops Catalog featuring the Rapala Fat Rap.

We’ve talked a lot about crankbaits here the past few months, but those discussions have been mostly about the alphabet baits of the early- to mid-1970s.  Today in Rapala Fat Rap, we’re still in the 1970s, but we’re deviating from that genre of crankbait.

I can’t think of another bait outside the Fat Rap that has the same action, shape, or lip design and angle.  Of course, I’m referring to the deep diver when I say that.  When it first came out in 1977, anglers in the west couldn’t get enough of them.  In 1978, when I started working at the shop, we sold cases of the baits weekly and never could keep the pegs stocked.

The Fat Rap quickly became one of my favorite cranks for the clearwater lakes around my home.  I believe its success was due to having no rattles, which in turn didn’t spook the fish.

When released, the bait was offered in four colors, Crawdad, Shad, FL. Red, and Perch.  In 1979 Chartreuse was added to the lineup and the Shad color was changed from having an orange stripe down the belly to having a red throat.  Then in 1982 the Shad color was dropped and Silver Foil was added in its place.  Gold Foil was also added in 1982.  In that five-year span was one tremendous win and one equal fail by Rapala.

Ad from the 1978 Bass Pro Shops Catalog featuring the Rapala Fat Rap.
1979 Rapala Fat Rap Ad March-April 1979 Bassmaster Magazine

The win was the introduction of the Chartreuse color.  Prior to receiving our order from Western Hoagie, we had already sold out of all we ordered.  We ended up making two more orders prior to receiving the first for a total of something like 24 dozen of each size.  The bait became one of the hottest baits we’d ever sell, with the Shad Rap beating the Chartreuse Fat Rap’s sales about three years later.

The major failure, though, had to do with the discontinuation of the Shad color.  The Shad colored bait was by far better than the Silver Foil that replaced it.  This created a run on the bait when it was learned they would no longer be available.

The difference in the colors was the plain silver sides with the orange belly stripe.  For some reason, the fish of the west preferred that color over the foil.  When the bait went from the belly stripe to the red throat, that was an east fix with some orange paint.  That wasn’t an option when they went to the silver foil.

So, in order to accommodate anglers, we’d send off cases of Chartreuse baits and get them painted into the Shad color.  For $1.50 more than list, you could have a custom painted Fat Rap.

Ad from the 1980 Bass Pro Shops Catalog featuring the Rapala Fat Rap.
Ad from the 1982 Bass Pro Shops Catalog featuring the Rapala Fat Rap.

Enough on talking about the colors, let’s move into the action of the baits and how deep they ran.  The FR5, the smaller of the two, with 8-pound test, would run about 6- to 8-feet deep depending on how long the cast was.  On the other hand, the FR7 would hit 10 feet on a good cast with 8-pound line.  Move up to 10-pound and it might hit 9-feet.

The action of both baits was unique in that neither provided vibration like a DB-series Bagley or Norman Deep Little N.  There seemed to be little resistance coming through the water, but you could see the bait had the standard wobbling action of a crankbait.  In my eyes this was what attracted fish to the Fat Rap, especially in clear water.  It wasn’t in your face.

I hate to think of how many big fish were caught on this bait as well as how many tournaments were won.  The Shad color became the summer crankbait for Castaic when the shad were thick, or if the wind or skiers had kicked up mudlines you switched over to the crawdad.  Chartreuse was the go-to at Casitas in the late winter and early spring.

The sad deal is the bait was discontinued around 2005.  Recently we posted a piece about the Shad Rap where I’d said that the bait was out of circulation.  Well, a reader emailed me and informed me that the Fat Rap was back in production, but only in the FR5 size.  They only offer it in four colors with the only original color being Silver Foil.

Now that the bait has been reintroduced, I wonder if anyone is buying them.  If not, they’ll be relegated to the bargain bin and taken off the list of SKUs.  I hope that doesn’t happen and some of the new anglers give the bait shot.  There’s been nothing like it since and believe me, it catches fish.