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Rapala DT-20 Review

Here in the south, the early summer months are synonymous with big crankbait fishing. In the months of May and June, fish really group up on offshore structure. A fan favorite to catching these schooled up fish is a big crankbait. While this can be a great way to catch some giant bass in the early summer months, they quickly wise up to this technique and it soon dies off during the transition into the late summer.

Most big crank baits used for this technique are giant plastic crankbaits with really loud rattles. These baits are great for catching fish when they are fresh out on the ledges, however they steer away from them as fishing pressure increases. This is when I like to implement the Rapala DT-20. So I thought I would share my insight and experiences with the DT-20.

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Unlike most deep-diving crankbaits, this bait is made completely out of balsa wood. This gives the bait a very unique action compared to other crankbaits in its class. This bait is also equipped with weights allowing the bait to cast long distances with ease. Another key feature about this bait is the rattle. While this bait still has a rattle much like other big crank baits, it is extremely subtle which allows this bait to be a great choice in the late summer.

This bait reaches its maximum depth of 20-feet quickly, while still coming through the water easily. This bait also comes stock with two No. 3 VMC treble hooks. The DT-20 weighs approximately 7/8 -ounce and measures 2 -3/4 -inches in length. This smaller size is another reason this bait excels in the late summer and heavily pressured areas.


Fishing a DT-20 in the late summer is a great way to catch a lot of quality fish. My favorite time to fish this bait is when fish are schooled up offshore and have seen a lot of fishing pressure. Once I’ve located a school, I like to approach it from down wind in order to assure that I won’t get blown over the school. I then like to make repetitive casts through the school of fish. Oftentimes, when you first start fishing the school you will catch a lot of fish in a short amount of time. They will then start to slow down after you’ve caught a couple. This is when I like to start changing the angles of my casts in order to give them a different presentation.

Another place I like to fish this bait is on deep rock piles or bluff walls. Much like a traditional shallow crankbait, rock or hard bottom is a great place to fish this bait. One of the best days of smallmouth fishing I’ve ever experienced came on a DT-20 on a rock pile in 15 feet of water.

There was current running over this deep rock pile and I could see tons of smallmouth staged behind it on my live sonar. I approached the rock pile from down current and would throw the crankbait over the rock pile then fish it back to the boat. Once the crankbait made it over the rock pile, the fish would shoot out from behind the rock and tackle the crankbait. This technique ended up producing numerous smallmouth in the 3 to 4-pound range and led to a great day of fishing. 

One key to having a successful day throwing this bait is being able to make long casts in order to increase you time in the strike zone. This is why it is super important to have the right setup in order to adequately fish this bait.

DT-20 Setup


When throwing the Rapala DT-20, I like to have and longer rod with an average speed reel.

This longer rod allows you to make much longer casts as well as having great leverage over the fish when fighting them to the boat. I also like a rod with a soft tip because it allows the rod to load up on the fish and keep from ripping the hook out of their mouth. My go to rod for this setup is a Dobyns Champion XP Cranking Rod 8-foot medium-heavy 805. This rod has enough length to make long casts while still being soft enough to properly set the hook and land the fish with smaller sized treble hooks.

For a reel, I like one with an average speed gear ratio and a big spool. I prefer a slightly faster gear ratio because this crankbait comes through the water much easier than other deep divers such as a Strike King 8 or 10XD. This allows you to reel the bait faster without having added strain on your arms or reel from fishing this bait for an extended amount of time. I also like a bigger spool because it allows you to hold a lot of line and make those longer cast that are so important for fishing this bait. For line I generally like to stick with 12-pound fluorocarbon. This has a thin enough diameter to allow the bait to reach the bottom quickly while still being strong enough to handle larger sized fish. My go to reel for this bait is a 200 Shimano Curado K in the 7:1 gear ratio. 

Throwing a Rapala DT-20 is a great way to catch a bunch of bass once the the offshore fish start to go lockjaw. Knowing where to throw this bait and having the right setup is a surefire way to have some super fun and productive days on the water this summer. 

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