A little history...
When I started Fat A.Z. Musky Products I made only swim baits. My friends and I were catching fish with them but there was little interest from the public to try them. I kept at it, keep giving them to “Big Name” personalities in the musky fishing world. Hoping for feed back, and getting very little.
It was at the first 3 Rivers Musky Inc Show is when I meet Todd Young from Muddy Creek Fishing Guides. He approached me wanting to buy some swim baits. Like I had done many times before, I handed him a handful of swim baits asking him to try them, and let me know what he thought.
A week or so went by and I got an email from Todd. The email was titled “Got one, 3rd cast” it explained how his client caught the fish, and his thoughts of the bait. As that season went by Todd and I became pretty good friends. In talking with him I asked him what his “ideal” casting bait would be. I then took the initiative to make the bait Todd was talking about…
I kind of kept it to myself for a while, at least until I had a half way presentable prototype (looking back it wasn’t very presentable, but you have to start somewhere). After getting the prototype established, I got Todd involved and we started to refine the bait. Slowly we widdled it down, tweaking it here and tuning it there. We spent close to a full year sculpting the jerk bait Todd asked for.
This photo shows some of the major body changes as the Raptor evolved from wood to resin, then sculpting a sleeker profile to finshed bait
When the dust settled we realized we made the bait Todd had been dreaming of. The Results: A far casting, easy to work, deep diving, wont break the bank work horse of a dive and rise jerk bait. The Raptor is different from most other jerk bait in that it has a near neutral buoyancy. What that means is when you work the Raptor down you don’t have to keep pulling at a fast rhythm to keep it deep. The very slow float allows freedom to work the bait slower, or shorter pulls, or just experiment with a different pulls or taps with out having the bait float to the surface like a bobber.
From the get go the Raptor was catching muskies. The first musky was shortly after ice out last spring and it didn’t stop there. That prototype season the Raptor caught many muskies with just handful of guys having access to them. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter every season, musky’s were getting fooled. They quickly became a big hit with Todd’s clients at Chautauqua Lake.
Last fall proved the Raptor can put big fish in the boat. Todd, for those of you who don’t know, teamed with Dale Wiley in 2001 to win the PMTT Top Gun Team of the Year Award. He has been hunting muskies his whole life and runs a very successful musky guide business. Out of the thousands of muskies he, his friends and clients have caught, the biggest CASTING musky he has ever handled came on an 8 inch Raptor last fall. That told us that we have made something very special.
You can work the Raptor many different ways. I generally pull the bait with long medium to fast sweeps of the rod then reeling the tip back till it points at the bait (to keep tension in the line). If I am in areas that are shallow, a rod tip pointed at the sky worked with short taps almost twitching the bait has caught me fish. Similar to a crank bait you can tune this bait, you can have the bait dance around by “untuning” it, or you can tune most of its darting out and run straighter and deeper. But I really feel there isn’t a wrong way to work the Raptor, it’s a jerk bait so you put the action to it.