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Swimbait Review


RatRumble: Heerrree's Johnny!


Date: 10/3/21
Tackle Type: Swimbait
Manufacturer: Johnny Rat
Reviewer: Jason Karol

Total Score: 7.33 - GOOD

Big Bait anglers around the world have continually gravitated towards the rat, a specific profile and presentation that has earned its own genre within the big bait niche. Once a well guarded secret, the rat has now gone mainstream, showing up on the front deck of Bassmaster Classic contenders, continually sold out at all of the big-name online retailers, and even overrunning TackleTour headquarters. For now at least, the rat is the “Big Cheese”, and a rat that goes by the name Johnny is one of the top contenders. The Johnny Rat, and subsequent Little Johnny, splashed down into the swimbait scene in 2013, with initial conception in California. Since then, Johnny has claimed dozens of tournament wins, hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes, and plenty of name recognition. While more rats will scurry across the pages of TackleTour in the upcoming weeks as the Fall bite heats up, the Johnny Rat is clearly here to take up residence.


Johnny Rat Wakebait Specifications

Type Waking, Walking
Length 11.5"
Weight 2.2oz
Depth Surface Only
Material Wood
No. Pieces 2
Joint Style V-Style joint with Pin & Screw Eye Joint
Bill Angle 70d
Variants Smaller, Little Johnny is 10" & 1.4oz
Hooks Decoy Quad Katsuichi
MSRP $184.99 ($169.99 for smaller variant)


Impressions & Craftsmanship: The Original Johnny Rat measures eleven and a half inches (11.5") total with a five and three quarter inch (5.75") body. It tipped our scales at two point two ounces(2.2oz). It’s smaller counterpart, the Little Johnny, measures ten inches (10”) total with a four and three quarter inch (4.75”) body. It weighs one point four ounces (1.4oz). Side by side, the Little Johnny does not jump out as a much smaller bait, and with baits of this stature, their one and a half inch (1.5”) difference isn't exactly that significant. What does seem apparent is the relative thickness of the bodies of each bait, with the Original Johnny Rat carrying more girth, contributing to both its oversized profile, as well as its additional weight.


For rat bait aficionados, this bait requires no introduction, however, for those who are not familiar, heeeerre's Johnny (Rat)!


Both versions of the Johnny Rat are made entirely of wood and include lexan wake bills, and V-Cut joints. The bodies are quite streamline, with a subtle hourglass figure, slightly raised pin-head eyes, pointed nose, and a tapered posterior.


The rear-end also features a recessed screw-lock/spring type keeper to hold the stock Creme Lures, Scoundrel Worm tail. Finishes vary by color, with both solid and fur patterns by Hiroshima Customs, an accomplished swimbait builder in his own right, and photo-finishes such as Opalescent and Carp by Realistic Wraps. I fished the Little Johnny in Black, along with the full sized Johnny in Carp. The finishes tend to be on the more simplistic side, and the bodies do not feature any appendages. However, what the Johnny Rat lacks in appearance, it more than makes up for it in performance.

The Johnny Rat Wakebait is available in two sizes, the largest (pictured here) tipped our scales at 2.2 oz.

Ready to Rumble: The Rat Genre of baits is somewhat of a gateway to the addiction that is swimbait fishing, as it combines an easily-understandable presentation with bait profiles that are not overly intimidating. While the Johnny Rat may be a larger-than-usual bait for most conventional fisherman, it doesn't weigh much more than an umbrella rig, a craze that took over the bass fishing world almost 10 years ago. Conveniently, I find the Little Johnny can be fished on most flippin/froggin setups with relative ease. For Instance, I had no issue tossing the Little Johnny on my heavy cover froggin setup, consisting of a Dobyns Champion Extreme 746, paired with an old Shimano Curado 200E7 and 65 lb Power Pro Original braided line. The Little Johnny falls well within the weight rating of most heavy cover rods on the market, making the smaller version an attractive option for getting your toes wet in rat fishing.

This bait has a very distinct facial profile

The full-sized Johnny Rat is better suited for a light swimbait setup, and I chose my custom seven foot, nine inch (7'-9") Leviathan Omega Heavy Power paired with a Shimano Tranx 400 in the standard 5.8:1 gear ratio. I personally prefer the low gear ratio reel options with topwater wakes, as I find that more torque in hand results in much less fatigue after a long day of rat fishing. For this setup, I chose 20 lb Izorline XXX Copoly, but a quality monofilament line would be a great option as well. In general, I prefer a floating line to allow the bait to perform at its best, as a sinking line like fluorocarbon may pull the head of the bait downwards and make waking and walking more difficult.

It comes with a V-style joint with a pin and screw eye connection

The Little Johnny (pictured here) comes with standard treble hooks

Humor me for a moment as I take a deeper-dive into rod selection for rats such as the Johnny and Little Johnny. First and foremost, I am looking for a rod capable of throwing the bait, both with distance and accuracy. This is where the rod's lure rating is important. If the rod is maxed out here, I tend to select a rod with a wider range. An overmatched rod will only lead to hesitant casts and a hesitant mindset. With length, I've found a full eight foot (8'-0") swimbait rod will work, but I've had difficulty employing the short downward rod twitches that are utilized while walking the bait.

When choosing a swimbait rod, I tend to stick to the sweet spot in a rod's ratings rather than risk overmatching a stick's capabilities

This presentation can be compared to walking a hollow-bodied frog, and therefore a rod that is too long can be both cumbersome and fatiguing. I like a rod that feels nimble in hand, and that can be maneuvered in a precise manner, hence my custom 7'-9" Leviathan stick. Finally, with regards to taper, I prefer something with a more moderate taper versus fast. I want something that will absorb the wallowing headshakes of the bass while keeping steady and consistent pressure. This steady, consistent pressure allows me to keep the head of the bass headed towards me, limiting any loss of pressure on the hooks. Additionally, it is important that a rod be moderate enough that it will not rip the hooks out of the fishes grasp.

I custom ordered the length on my Leviathan Omega Heavy because I find it easier to walk big baits with a shorter length rod

Next Section: Drawing Power and Walking Johnny...









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