1 Bait, 5 Reasons: Randall Tharp's Durable, Big-Billed, Balsa Crankbait - Major League Fishing

1 Bait, 5 Reasons: Randall Tharp’s Durable, Big-Billed, Balsa Crankbait

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Randall Tharp explains why the Rapala BX Brat is his favorite crankbait for fall bass. Photo by Phoenix Moore
October 25, 2020 • Mason Prince • Major League Lessons

It takes a while for fall to reach Randall Tharp’s home in Port St. Joe, Florida. But when the Rapala pro is on the road fishing a fall tournament a little further north, he reaches for a Rapala BX Brat crankbait to generate bites. He gives us five reasons why the Rapala BX Brat deserves a spot in your tackle box this fall.

1. Smaller Size = More Bites

Tharp likes to downsize his baits – including his crankbaits – for a more finesse-focused approach in the fall.

“This is really like a finesse-type squarebill for me,” Tharp explained. “It’s smaller and that seems to get me more bites in the fall. When I’m looking to generate bites this time of the year, this is one of my favorite baits to do it with. That smaller size really attracts the fish better, in my opinion.”

2. Plastic Shell Adds Durability

Balsa crankbaits are notoriously prone to being damaged when they bounce off of cover. While the Rapala BX Brat is made out of balsa, Tharp got the folks at Rapala to add a little something extra during the design process to help keep it running longer.

“This is a balsa wood bait, but it has this plastic shell that makes it extra durable,” Tharp detailed. “I love balsa wood crankbaits, but if you hit them on a rock, they’re done for. This crankbait can take a beating and still perform like you need it to. That plastic shell really lengthens the life of this bait.”

Randall Tharp shows off the rod and reel he uses when he has a Rapala BX Brat tied on. Photo by Phoenix Moore

3. Bigger Bill

Tharp fishes the BX Brat in up to 7 feet of water on a Ark Randall Tharp 7-foot Grinder Cranking Rod paired with a Shimano Chronarch 150 6.8:1 reel, and 14-pound Sufix Fluorocarbon. All of his tackle – plus the bait’s bigger bill – give it the exact dive angle he needs it to make.

“This bill gives it a little bit of a different dive angle,” Tharp said. “That causes it to deflect a little differently. It has a coffin bill instead of your traditional squarebill, so that causes the deflection to be a little different as well. I like to work it pretty slow with that 6.8:1 reel, also.”

4. Wonderfully Weedless

Not only does that bigger bill increase the dive angle, but it also causes the BX Brat to run slightly nose-down. That movement and angle of the bait add up to an added bonus characteristic for Tharp.

“The fact that the bill is bigger than most other crankbaits, that makes it hide the hooks better,” Tharp explained. “That makes it more weedless when running it through grass. That bigger bill makes it run nose-down, which doesn’t get you hung up in the grass as much as you would with other crankbaits.”

5. Plenty of Colors to Choose From

Of course, you can’t forget about the colors. From bright and vibrant to extremely lifelike, the folks at Rapala have no shortage of colors to choose from.

“I like the Pearl Grey Shiner color, but there’s others that I like to use depending on the time of the year,” Tharp said. “I also like using the Chartreuse Shad or one of the crawfish colors. Really no matter the time of year, they have the right kind of color for you to match what bait fish are in your area.”