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Lure Review


My Favorite Topwater Custom Swimbait - The Illude Rad Rat (continued)


Simply Rad: That very first day was in the middle of the summer the Rad Rat absolutely crushed it. Like other single jointed two piece rats I first treated the Illude Rad Rat as a cover bait and primarily fished it alongside, and over shallow cover, and in this application it performed beautifully. I soon found that I could also fish the Rad Rat both slowly and relatively quickly effectively, and when cranking it down aggressively and it basically transforms into a giant crankbait, and swims below the surface with a similar tail whipping action.


The very first day I fished the Illude Rad Rat I caught five fish all over 5lbs. and on the next few subsequent trips I fished the bait side by side with other anglers who worked other rats and topwaters, and the Rad outperformed those baits by 2 times, and on multiple days by 3 times when in came to both strike and catch numbers. The Rad Rat's effectiveness was slowly blowing my mind! 


Bass seem to react strongly to this rat, and I've caught fish of all sizes on this bait fishing cover and in open water


The more I fished the Rad Rat the more I started to key in on what makes this bait so deadly effective. Unlike mass produced rats this hand carved wooden rat relies on profile, swimming action, and sound from the body of the bait itself. There are no rattles here, yet the Rad Rat delivers an extremely loud clack knocking sound with each swing of the hips.


The audible knock the bait generates makes the Rad Rat not only a great cover bait but an exceptional search bait because it can be slow cranked and generates so much wake while that tantalizing clack-clack sound not only seems to draw attention but helps bass key in on the bait from afar.


A lot of larger fish I catch with the Rad Rat like to go straight into the weeds in an effort to free themselves and I have found that even though the bait is light enough to be cast with lighter rods a full-spec swimbait rod helps convert more strikes into landed fish by being able to swing hard and control larger, and more powerful, bass


The Illude Rad Rat is able to draw attention in open water, and can be fished slowly enough to stay longer in the strike zone when targeting fish holding structure. That flexibility makes this particular bait so effective. The clack sound that this bait makes is due to the cedar wood material that Illude utilizes in the bait's body combined with the hard finish that they put on each bait. The clack is such a unique pitch that other anglers that I've fished with have asked if the bait has some sort of embedded rattle.


Like so many other rodent swimbaits the Illude Rad Rat is finished with a soft hand poured worm-style tail that is designed to be easily replaced. To give you an idea of how refined the Rad Rat is the screw that holds the tail is completely recessed within the rear section so that the connection is seamless, and the tails not only stay in place well, but are also able to withstand strikes better. Illude provides a few tail colors with each rat and I routinely change from the pink tail during the daytime to a dark black tail for fishing in lower light.


The Illude Rad Rat is also one of my favorite night fishing baits, this rat just plain gets bit after dark!


Night Missions: Over the last year I started getting back into night fishing not only to pursue larger fish but to simply enjoy a different type of swimbait fishing during the warm summer evenings. I put together a new arsenal of baits and on that shortlist is always the one white Illude Rad Rat that I had already caught over sixty fish on at that point.


It only took two night missions for me to once again find that my top producing topwater swimbait was the Rad Rat. The Rad Rat's loud clack and ability to be worked at slow to moderate speeds make it absolutely deadly for fishing after dark.


After contacting Illude directly I was able to learn more about the history of the bait and procure a second Rad Rat, a nude pattern Day Shift


Price and Applications: Who would have thought a bait that I had let sit idle for a whole year was now my confidence topwater bait, both during the day and night? I knew I had to get more! Which is the biggest challenge with the Rad Rat. Like many other custom bait builders Illude is a small custom shop and demand is far greater than supply. The more I learned about Illude the more I was further drawn to the bait. I discovered that though the company is based in New York that the creator and head luresmith, Lendl Ha, had roots here in the Bay Area and grew up fishing the very same lakes here in Northern California that I did when I was learning to bass fish, started TackleTour, and still leave near today, and that he went to the same school that I did, and had shared his initial technical drawings and prototypes with the Coyote Bait and Tackle team when conceptualizing his very first baits, and creating the Illude brand itself. It reminded me of how small of a world this is, and how the tackle industry, and especially the swimbait community, is an even smaller one.  


What makes the Illude Rad Rat such a great night bait is the ability to wake the lure at multiple speeds while generating that unique high pitched knocking clack sound


Though Illude has significantly grown their following Lendl's commitment to quality remains. Each and every single Rad Rat is still handmade, hand painted, and even swim tested before the rat is shipped to their new home. For my second rat I placed an order directly with Lendl and a few months later my new Rad was finally ready for me, a nude pattern that was more of an off-white color than my original white one. Like the original, the attention to details, down to the characteristic notches in the ears, was perfect. I noticed that the hips on my second bait was slightly larger to than my original, and yet when I swam it the signature waking motion and audible clack were exactly what I expected. Just as before, each and every bait is still hand carved, balanced, and tested. The result is exceptional consistency, and absolutely no tuning is necessary to start fishing the Rad Rat effectively right out of the box. 


The Rad Rat continues to prove itself and has become my go to night fishing topwater bait


In terms of durability the Rad Rat holds up extremely well, and while there is some hook rash on my two baits I'm very impressed with how well the lures have held up to some of the most viscous topwater strikes I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I've also only had one of the hand poured tails rip free, which is a lot less than I've had come off other rat baits with exposed wind-on springs. Illude also sells replacements in a variety of colors directly on their site if you need them and they come in 3-packs for only $3.00.


The Day Shift models feature a clear bill. If you can only get one Rad Rat this is the one to get, as it can effectively be fished day or night... but the carbon lipped Night Shift models look so darn cool and yes, I want one!


Both of my Rad Rats originate from the company's Day Shift Series which essentially means that they utilize a clear Lexan style lip, versus the opaque carbon fiber lip. This makes the profile clearer in bright light, while the carbon fiber lip doesn't impact the visual profile in the dark, and is also very durable...and let's face it, it just looks really cool. If you are only going to get one Rad Rat I'd recommend the standard Day Shift model as it can be fished day or night just as well.


My go to rod for fishing thing Rad Rat has been the Megabass Destroyer Onager, followed by the Mark 48

Next Section: The elusive Illude Rad Rat...









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