Rapala has a long and rich history of creating balsa baits that catch fish. Whether it was the Rapala Minnow first carved by Lauri Rapala to help him put food on the table, or the latest offerings like the DT Fat or the DT Flat that not only catch the eye of the angler but bass as well, Rapala has it dialed in.
Precision craftsmanship quickly differentiates Rapala from other builders. It's one thing to hand-carve a single bait that has individual characteristics and color, but it's another to see lures built in large quantities with those same characteristics each and every time.
I recently had the opportunity to test the Rapala DT Flat 03 in silver and found it to be perfect for fall applications when bass are chasing shad and feeding up for winter.
It matched the color of shad perfectly and this model had a scaled, bluish back, white sides, red gill-stripe and 3D inset eyes. The bait measures 2 1/2 inches long, weighs 3/8-ounce, and has some super-sharp No. 4 trebles positioned perfectly to not catch on each other.
Whether fishing sun-soaked rocks and riprap on a windy bank, or cranking through blow-downs in coves and near points, the bait performed exceptionally well. The body shape and weight of the lure allowed it to cast well into the wind, and I found it to be super durable. Even after numerous fish and several very sharp rocks, it still tracked well and caught fish.
The coffin bill on the DT Flat deflected off cover, and because it's positioned just below the eyes and nose of the bait, you can crank it quickly and without it rolling over.
It dove 3 to 5 feet based on line size and rod position, and I found it worked best on 12-pound Trilene 100% fluorocarbon.
I used a 6 1/2-foot Setyr cranking stick (CKN178MH) teamed with an Abu Garcia 4600C4 reel, which had a 6.3:1 gear ratio. Many anglers like slower-speed reels for cranking, but I've found that based on cover and the stop-and-go retrieve, I'd much rather get the bass to the boat quickly.
As I mentioned, most fish were caught on a stop-and-go retrieve.
This bait has a fairly tight wobble when retrieved quickly. I also jerked the bait, much like fishing a suspending jerkbait. That method triggered hits when it first reached depth, and when I twitched it around targets.
Steering the bait with a crank/stop/jerk/crank cadence, with the rod in the 2:00 position, seemed most effective. I noticed that several bites came after running the length of a blowdown, then adding a twitch/jerk and pause as it came off the tree.
This bait is perfect for paralleling riprap, and because it's balsa, it floats up most times when hung if you take tension off.
Again, the stop-and-go retrieve worked best on long casts, and I noticed the bait kicked out when it struck an object, which often triggered bites.
Water temperature was in the lower 50s, the air temp near 60, and it was partly cloudy with winds as strong at 15 to 20 mph. I also noticed the water was semi-clear but had a green tinge, which led me to think it had just turned over.
It seemed that the bass were positioned next to cover facing deep water, and many were suspended under the blowdowns or around riprap – they'd only hit the bait on a deflection off the limbs and rocks.
A knock on flat-sided baits, but a characteristic that enamors some anglers, is each bait's uniqueness. I don't particularly like baits of the same model that run differently. Too much tuning. I liked that the Rapala DT Flat ran true each and every time, right out of the box.
I fished two different models of the DT Flat, both in Silver – the DTF and Sure Set DTFSS. I didn't like the Sure Set treble around shallow wood, as it snagged easily, but I did feel it had a place in open water and over deep rock.
> This is a killer fall bait when shad are bunched up in and near coves. If your lake has shad, I highly recommend giving the DT Flat a shot.
> As I said, the DT Flat ran perfectly out of the box with no tuning necessary. However, it's easily tuned when needed. And the line tie near the bait's nose actually gives the bait some added rigidity, which I liked.
> The DT Flat retails for around $6.79 and comes in six colors: silver, firetiger, blue shad, hot mustard, parrot, and red crawdad.
> For more about the DT Flat, as well as other great Rapala lures, click here.