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Swimbait Review


Rat Rumble : JSJ Baits's Pack Rat (Recoil Edition)


Date: 7/8/21
Tackle Type: Lure
Manufacturer: JSJ Baits
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.58 - GOOD

Josh St. John is certainly no new comer to the world of big baits. We've taken detailed looks at his Snack Sized Trout and Bluegill baits back in 2009 and 2011 respectively and just last year, we reviewed a bait he designed to be produced in collaboration with River2Sea, the Trigger Trout. At the time, I touted the Trigger Trout as a rare collaboration between two bait making entities, but what I didn't realize until recently is that collaborations are a common theme with St. John. Back in 2008, when his bait company was young, and relatively unknown, he collaborated with another bait maker, Benno Huene of Little Creeper fame to build a subsurface, soft plastic rat swimmer. Here's our belated look at JSJ's Pack Rat.


JSJ Pack Rat Specifications

Type Sub Surface Swimmer
Length 8 3/4" (4" body)
Weight 1.8oz
Depth Any
Material Silicone
No. Pieces 1
Variants Available in 5 colors
Hooks 8/0 Beast Style hook recommended (not included)
MSRP $27.50


JSJ Baits's Pack Rat is a subsurface rat bait option


Impressions & Craftsmanship: The current Pack Rat (dubbed the Recoil Edition) is made out of a special silicone mix St. John developed during a two year hiatus from making baits. The result is a bait with extreme elasticity and durability. The bait is sold in individual packs and measures three and three quarters of an inch from the nose to the point where the tail attaches. Stretching the tail out as straight as it will go, we get a total length of eight and three quarters of an inch.

The rear tail swims like a grub or curly tail worm

It has a flat bottom and articulated front and hind legs. The hind legs end in two paddle-like feet. JSJ pre-installs a centerpin clip at the nose of the bait to facilitate rigging. There's also a hook hole in the center of the bait to accommodate an 8/0 sized Beast style hook. This is a very realistic looking rat imitator.

The back feet also swim like an erratic paddletail if retrieved quickly enough

Ready to Rumble: I fished the Pack Rat on a couple of different setups before settling on my Legit Design WSC72H+ matched with my Daiwa Steez SV TW Limited spooled with 50lb Seaguar Threadlock and a topshot of 20lb Gold Label FC (also by Seaguar). For all intents and purposes, the Pack Rat is like a big, paddletail swimbait, so a stick with a strong enough backbone to set that single, wide gap hook is needed. Power and taper are not quite as critical as with say, a jig style hooked wedge tail, but any stick that can effect solid sets with a bait like that will also work here of course. Otherwise, because the Pack Rat's body will collapse during a hookset, your chances for a good connection are pretty high.

Each rat comes with a pre-installed center-pin clip to facilitate rigging

Rigging: Setting up the Pack Rat is as easy as they come. JSJ recommends using an 8/0 sized Owner Beast style hook (weighted). These hooks typically come with a center-pin attachment. Simply screw this rigging device off because the Pack Rat comes with a similar device pre-installed at the nose. The difference here is the one in the Pack Rat has an open end concealed within the nose that you can use to simply click onto the eye-let of your hook. Simply pull the nose of the Pack Rat back a little to discover the opening.

A built in hook slot further simplifies rigging

From there, it's a matter of lining up the hook to the hook channel already running through the center of the bait and you're good to go. If you prefer, you can run the hook through first, and then clip the center-pin into the hook's eyelet. Either method will work, it's just a matter of finding the one that works for you. I now pre-tie the hook to my line before rigging the Pack Rat because I find it easier to tie the knot without the bait there to get in the way. I also prefer to use Owner's Flashy Swimmer so I have just a little added flash thanks to that willow leaf blade.

Fishing the Pack Rat is pretty simple - just cast and retrieve as you would a paddletail or similar swimbait

The Swim: Once you're rigged up, fishing the Pack Rat is pretty simple - just cast and retrieve as you would a paddletail or similar swimbait. The Pack Rat's tail twirls in the water like a large grub and if you retrieve quickly enough, the hind legs will flail around like uneven paddletails. The fact you can rig it weedless really helps when weeds are present. Even though no bait is truly immune, it seems that pointed head on the bait helps minimize some of the hangups and the fact the hook point is concealed certainly doesn't hurt.

My only concern with durability was whether or not a fish was going to pull the tail off, but that situation didn't materialize

Vitality: Durability of JSJ's new soft silicone body is pretty good. The Pack Rat seems to hold up well through at least a handful of strikes. I was constantly worried of the tail getting bitten off because you can see it is just glued onto the bait's body, but that situation never materialized during my time fishing the lure.

Bait Detail : A feature and dimension breakdown of the JSJ Pack Rat as detailed by our Swimbait SkunkWerx division

Price & Availability: JSJ's Pack Rat retails for $27.50 per bait and is available direct from JSJ through their website and occasionally through friendly maker sites like Toxic Baits. St. John makes them in small batches, so if not immediately available through either of those outlets when you're ready to purchase, try following their Social Media for availability.



JSJ Pack Rat Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very realistic, non-traditional rat bait 8
Performance Swims well and hook up ratio is very good 8
Price Seems pricey at first, but given the durability of this bait, the price point is justified 7
Features Built in hook slot, pre-rigged centerpin, durable, soft body 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) Available in 5 colors 7.5
Application A good option when bass are relatively shallow but not quite ready to hit a wake bait 7.5

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:


+ Pre-rigged center-pin and hook slot makes the bait super easy to set up - It'd be nice if the back feet swam a little more consistently
+ Silicone body is soft yet durable  
+ A better option than a hard bodied crankdown around weeds  

JSJ Baits bucks the trend of topwater rats by offering this sub surface swimmer. The Pack Rat is unique and super fun to fish!

Conclusion: JSJ's Pack Rat is a very interesting take on the rat bait genre. Bucking the trend of topwater wakes, this bait represents a challenge to the fish as it swims through their turf, not over it. It is estimated rats can actually hold their breath up to three minutes under water, so this bait definitely reproduces a likely scenario for a hungry or angry bass to encounter. The fact it's very easy to rig and durable for a soft bait only adds to its fun and convenience. It is certainly much easier to fish than a hard bodied crankdown and more versatile give you can better fish it in and around weeds and you can fish it much faster than a crankdown. If you enjoy tempting bass with rat profile baits (and really, even if you don't), JSJ's Pack Rat is likely to put a big smile on your face.


Ready to Rumble with the JSJ Pack Rat?

Follow their Social Media for drop announcements

or try the Toxic Baits Store










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