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Swimbait Review

RatRumble : The RioRat by Hill Country Swimbaits (continued)

Dexterity: Still with me? So assuming you have your rod, reel, line situation all straightened out, At just under three ounces in weight, the RioRat is a very easy bait to cast. Once the bait touches down, it sits in a very neutral position with over half the body submerged including the eyes and nose. The ears, part of the back remain visible above the water while its soft plastic tail floats perfectly. As you begin your retrieve, the entire bait snakes in a very convincing, lifelike manner.

The bait's V-Style joint provides a subtle knocking sound but this bait is primarily a slosher

The secret to waking the RioRat is, as mentioned earlier, a super slow retrieve. You can go a tad bit faster with your rod tip up, but I usually have my rod tip down with rat baits so I'm in better position to set the hook. This also gives me the flexibility to change the retrieve up more quickly. For example, with the RioRat, if you stop your retrieve, and twitch the rod tip as you would with a frog, it will sit in place and walk side to side staying in the strike zone just a little while longer than on a steady retrieve.

My favorite detail on this bait are its ears

Give another tug of the rod tip while reeling at the same time, and you can get the RioRat to crank down about a foot under the surface for yet another presentation. The RioRat performs all three of these maneuvers very well and very easily but my favorite is keeping it on the surface in that slow, sinuous dance.

Stock hooks are Owner ST-36

Drawing Power: There are a few different sound qualities to wake baits. Some knock, some slosh, some squeak, some give off a more subtle and quiet clacking sound. Most offer a combination of different sounds that together with their swimming motion most experienced rat anglers and bait makers to refer to collectively as drawing power. The RioRat has good drawing power but its primary attraction is that slow, sinuous wake. It has a very quiet clack and a good deal of sloshiness as it swims and definitely feels geared towards clear water reservoirs where most every presentation needs to be more subdued.

Aside from normal hook rash and bit marks, this bait holds up well

Vitality: The RioRat comes with quality components and comes with an easily replaceable tail held in place by a center-pin like screw recessed at the back of the bait. Hooks are by Owner (ST-36), and held up well during our tests. The bait's resin body is durable with some minor wear marks from hooks and teeth visible along the body but nothing out of the ordinary. This is a relatively slender rat bait but feels very solid in its build quality.

Bait Detail : A feature and dimension breakdown of the Hill Country Swimbaits Rio Rat as detailed by our Swimbait SkunkWerx division

Price & Availability: The RioRat is available through Hill Country Swimbait's Website for the retail price of $135. The company currently offers weekly drops of all their baits, with specific availability dependent upon demand together with availability of resources. To date, we've seen six different color options but with small batch manufacturers like Hill Country, additional colors including limited offerings are only a thought or whim away.



Hill Country Swimbaits Rio Rat Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Simple build but with fun details 8
Performance Subtle sloshing, knocking sound, but very good swim and excellent hook up ratio 9
Price On the pricey side of a relatively new resin bait 6.5
Features Quality hardware and easily replaceable tail 8
Design (Ergonomics) Good, medium sized rat that's easy to throw and doesn't require super stout gear to fish 7.5
Application Good at all three fighting styles. A versatile rat bait. 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Versatile bait that can be waked, cranked down, or walked - The bait's aesthetic while highly detailed, feels off proportionately
+ Quality hardware  
+ Fun detailing  
+ Easy to throw  


Conclusion: If the only criticism I can think of with your product is its aesthetics, chances are the product is super solid. That's how I feel about Hill Country Swimbaits's RioRat. This is a solid topwater rat with the potential to be a killer crankdown. My fish came on topwater strikes, but I really liked how easy it is to get this bait down, just under the surface where a lot of the bigger fish like to strike. The RioRat has a nice profile without being overly bulky making it easy to target cast in and around structure. Case in point? The fish pictured below was hiding under an overhanging tree. Because I was using a short rod in the WSC72H+, I felt I had a good chance of firing the RioRat in under the branches to an open pocket much like I would a frog, so I did. It was a perfect cast under the branch, over a turtle, and into the open pocket of water.


Hill Country Swimbaits's Rio Rat is a solid performer


I let the bait marinate there for a couple of seconds, then, two rod twitches later, just as I was about to begin my retrieve, the bass sucked the RioRat down. That turtle was probably thinking "Phew! Better it than me!" That fish wasn't the first, and certainly not the last, but it was the most exciting and unexpected because of both the placement and the way I was working the bait - keeping it in the strike zone as long as I could with a couple of twitches. Totally out of character for the way I fish rat baits, but something I had in mind because I know that's what the bait was designed to do. It worked and was an exciting way to highlight a solid little bait.


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