Birth of the Rapala Clackin’ Rap

Birth of the Rapala Clackin’ Rap

Feb 3, 2013

The “knock” on lipless crankbaits  and the birth of the Rapala Clackin’ Rap

By Mike Pehanich

Lipless crankbaits should be “bread and butter” baits, not just in spring but throughout the open water season.  ( See Lipless Crankbaits for all related features)

Over the past few seasons,  I’ve expanded my lipless crankbait arsenal and learned how to work these baits more effectively under a variety of situations. Here’s my advice: if  you want to up your bass catch this year, get a grip on “no-lips.”

A couple of introductions in recent years hearken back to a little-known piece of lure lore for their development. One is the Rapala Clackin’ Rap.

I had the opportunity to fish a prototype of the Clackin’ Rap with Mark Fisher of Rapala before the bait’s unveiling at ICAST ’08 and months before its commercial release.

–    –    –

Mark Fisher, Rapala national promotions manager and newly inducted member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, helped develop the Clackin’ Rap with crankbait master David Fritts. They tested early prototypes on Lake Minnetonka.

Now Fisher’s title is director of field promotions, but it seems like he does everything but mow the lawn for Rapala. He worked on this bait from concept to final version and actually crafted early protoypes in his garage with crankbait master David Fritts.

Check out the Clackin’ Rap. The metal discs centrally located on the flanks are part of the sound chamber that accounts for the unique rattle, vibration and appearance of this bait. A single steel ball bangs between these external discs. The resultant sound – and corresponding vibration – is a distinctive “clack” rather than “rattle” — hence the name!

Fisher, who was recently inducted into the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, said that the Clackin’ Rap concept emerged at the same time David Fritts advised Rapala to pursue the DT (“Dives-To” a precise depth) crankbait idea.


The Clackin’ Rap story

“Years ago before everything got so sophisticated, anglers were fishing a lot of lipless crankbaits. Someone always had a (Rat-L-)Trap, a (Cotton Cordell) Spot, or a (Rapala) Rattlin’ Rap or something. You just covered water…and you caught a lot of fish. Lipless crankbaits always found a place in the tackle box because they were – and are — great high percentage fish catchers.

“(David) Fritts and I were practicing at Beaver Lake (in northwest Arkansas). He said to me, ‘I have an old lure I’d like you to throw. One side has all the finish knocked off, and it’s chrome on the other, with a blue or black back. And it’s a one ouncer.’

“Fritts emphasized that the bait had a unique sound.  ‘I’ve caught so many big bass on this sound,’ he told me. Then he started shaking the bait in the air, and I could hear the dull knock. “This bait has a different sound than other (lipless) baits that I’ve used,’ he said.

“As we know, tones change in water.  Low frequency sounds transmit further than high frequency sounds in a liquid medium. So when we began working on the design of our new lipless crankbait, we didn’t want a high-pitched bait, We wanted something with, as we say, ‘more baritone’ — a kind of harder, denser sound.“

Mark Fisher’s smallmouth fell to this prototype Clackin’ Rap in 2008. The Clackin’ Rap opened a whole new series of baits with a “baritone” rattle for Rapala.


Fritts flew in, and the two went to work on the bait in Fisher’s garage. They needed a bigger rattle chamber to produce the needed sound, so they began working with the de-lipped bodies of the discontinued Rapala Risto Rap. Putting the belt sander to work, they produced five prototypes, and three came close to what they had in mind.

Fisher continued: “The first experiment didn’t produce the right sound. It wasn’t the right stuff. So we experimented some more, and we started talking more about getting a metal on metal sound. That’s when we came upon the Clackin’ Rap design. ‘Let’s see if we can make a chamber that has exposed ends – ends that aren’t covered,’ we said. Just think about it: the best place to put a rattle on a jig is directly on a hook because the rattle rings (resonates) off the hook.  We knew if we could build a lipless crankbait that was just a fun ‘cast and wind’ bait that could cover a lot of water and make the outside ends of the rattle chamber metal, we knew we would have something pretty unique. It all made sense.

“At this point, we knew we had the right body width and shape and the right size. We knew we wanted a ¾- to one-ounce bait, too…We sent the prototype to Finland and wanted them to work their magic as well.  That’s one thing we pride ourselves on at Rapala. Everybody that has a hand in on a project puts a little bit of themselves into it. The Finns polished and fitted it.”


Just add color… and a SureSet hook!

Low frequency sounds transmit further than high frequency sounds in water -- a principle David Fritts and Mark Fisher built the “metal on metal” Clackin’Rap concept around.

Rapala borrowed some of the colors from the X Rap line – durable and attractive finishes that fared much better than the peeling finishes on many lipless baits of yore — and added the SureSet treble hook featuring a single oversized wide-gapped hook mated with two regular hooks.

Shake it.

Hear the difference for yourself. The Clackin’ Rap’s rattle is louder and deeper than typical rattling lipless baits.

Fisher said the jury is still out on whether the Clackin’ Rap’s effectiveness is due more to the volume or to the pitch the bait puts out.

But he’s sure that the width of the body is a factor.  Its wide and rounder design is harder for a fish to throw than a flat-sided bait. “And it pushes and displaces so much more water compared to a narrow lipless,” he added.

During that brief June evening on Lake Minnetonka, we caught several pike and bass before something huge – I say “musky” – buckled the rod, peeled drag, and ran off with my prototype, leaving me chagrined but with a powerful first impression of the Clackin’ Rap that hasn’t faded since.

Clackin’ Cousins

Rapala Clackin’ Crank

Latest in the line! The squarebill Clackin’ Crank is a shad-style crankbait with hard-driving action and an oversized SureSet rear treble hook. Rapala calibrates the depth of the No. 5 at 3 feet and the No.7 at 4 feet.

Rapala Clackin’ Minnow


Rapala added the slow-falling Clackin’ Minnow in two sizes (No. 9 and No. 11) to its low-vib Clackin’ series in 2010. The slow-falling jerkbait adds another option to the standard floating/rising jerkbait and the suspending jerkbait.



  1. Congratulations on the launch of your new website. It is a long overdue and much needed resource. Small waters are where most people get started in the sport and thus is the place where they learn the basics of fishing. Your website will encourage more parents to get their kids fishing and will serve to promote the sport while at the same time stress such important matters as conservation and fishing technique. Good job.

    • Lets put it this way when I throw one of those baits onto my line and into Lake Erie, the smallmouth deoismlh them! Is there anything better than a 4 minute fight with a 6 or even 7 pound smallie? Didn’t think so! Slow roll, chuck and wind or hop the swimbaits along the bottom cast and retrieve, yo-yo or stop and pause the crankbaits and the smallies will be all over it! Of course pictures to follow on FHC Outdoors on Facebook!

  2. Great Website Mike!
    I don’t fish small waters as much as I used to but the info is equally applicable to bigger waters. We all have used smaller waters to hone our craft. Keep up the good work. Loved the Rapala Clackin story. Thanks, Dave

    • Bill Dance and the In fishermen T V shows teach the most in their prmiaromgng about what baits to use, how to use them and they even cover boat placement and trolling techniques. You might ask the library to get the series for check out and copy what you think is the best of the best info you watch and see. Other shows are Jimmy Huston, and all bass tournaments. Also books written by tournament winning anglers are full of info you will use forever. (so take notes on need to remember topics)

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