TackleTour Autopsy: A Brat to the Balsa Core, the new Rapala BX Squarebill
Introduction: With the cold weather upon us we spend more time in the
lab at this time of year and take a closer look at some of the most interesting
new products in our ongoing autopsy series. The next product to go under the
blade is an interesting new squarebill from Rapala called the BX Brat, and what
makes this bait so interesting is the hybrid design which incorporates a balsa
wood core and a plastic outer shell.
Let's take a closer look at the
hybrid copolymer and balsa based Rapala BX Brat crankbait
Why Balsa? Our first impressions of the Rapala BX Brat is that this is a
really slick looking lure and it is hard to believe that it is a balsa wood bait
at all. Balsa is a popular material to use for crankbaits because it is so easy
to work with and offers excellent buoyancy. For example a comparably weighted
balsa bait is going to be more buoyant than the same bait made of plastic.
The BX Brat features some
excellent finishes, and at first glance you would never know that these baits
make use of balsa at all
This is also why the material is so popular for shallow cranks which need
to be effective close to cover and not snag up. Balsa also tends to deflect well
and anglers love knocking these baits on wood, and unlike plastic they will
bounce right off and float quickly to avoid those annoying hang ups.
In the water the bait floats
perfectly and tracks widely as it wiggles enticingly during retrieves
If you spend enough time fishing balsa baits you start to
realize how consistent they are, and in general their swimming action is also
unaffected by cold water temperatures, unlike plastic where the action can
become more muted.
All sounds great right? So why arenít all squarebills made out of balsa? Letís
start with the economics of the baits themselves. It is easier to mass produce
plastic baits which makes them cheaper to pound out in large numbers. It isnít
all about the numbers though.
The BX Brat weighs only .4oz.
Plastic baits are typically
more durable than wood ones and can take greater abuse, everything from smacking
against rocks or just getting stepped on the boat deck.
Plastic baits also can be transparent and the finishes on these molded
baits can be more textured or painted in greater detail, or even under the
plastic shell for greater durability and a layered appearance.
The BX Brat comes armed with VMC
black nickel round bend trebles
Rapala, along with brands like Bagley and other custom lure manufacturers
like PH, are some of the companies that continue to embrace balsa. Rapalaís
approach with the Balsa Xtreme Brat is to create a hybrid bait, one that
leverages both balsa and plastic in the lureís construction. To take a closer
look at this implementation we put the BX Brat under the knife.
Parts of the bait are painted
while other parts like the foil are under the copolymer skin