Fat Papa 70
The Spro Fat Papa 70, designed by Bassmaster Elite and PAA pro Russ Lane, will dive from 9 to 12 feet deep depending on line diameter, rod angle and distance cast.
Lane says, “This is my confidence bait. I have had several top ten finishes using the Fat Papa 70 and I hope to have even more success using it in upcoming events. It’s a bait I look forward to throwing right after the spawn’s done. After the water gets up into the 75 degree range and higher, I can find situations to throw this bait from postspawn straight through the fall.”
The action is pretty extreme on the Fat Papa. It’s definitely a wild action crankbait with a very wide wobble and a big profile. Weighing 3/4 oz with #2 Gamakatsu EWG hooks, the Fat Papa 70 is fatter than most other crankbaits – and also has a thinner bill than most baits so it cuts through the water a lot quicker. The way the lip is designed so thin, you can reel it extremely fast. Lane emphasizes, “That high speed of retrieve is vital to getting fish to react.”
In the many big tournaments he’s fished over the years, Russ has seen that, after the first day or two of a tournament, rattles in a crankbait can actually scare fish and it gets tough to get bites on rattling baits on some of the more heavily contested bodies of water. For that reason, Lane made the Fat Papa to be a silent, non-rattling bait.
“Pulling all my design goals together, I wanted the Fat Papa to have a big profile and I wanted it to be reeled just as fast as you can with a really wild, erratic action. Not having rattles allows this bait to sneak up on wary fish a little bit better. Suddenly, right when it’s in their face is when it gets their attention, and it’s really working hard, really grinding the bottom, fleeing past them, and they instinctively snap at it with a quick reaction bite,” explains Russ.
Fat Papa 55
Russ designed the Fat Papa 70 for post-spawn (say May or June) through November. For the colder half of the year, he designed the Fat Papa 55 for when the water gets cold in winter right through to prespawn.
“I don’t want to say the Fat Papa 55 is only for early spring and cold water but that’s really what I had in mind with this bait,” says Lane.
The Fat Papa 55 has a much tighter wiggling action (than the Fat Papa 70), full-size Gamakatsu #4 hooks and dives to 8 or even 9 feet deep on a long cast with a good 10 lb test fluorocarbon. It casts impressively far – quite a distance for such a small crankbait.
“I wanted the Fat Papa 55 to be the next step up amongst crankbaits of its size. It’s a really good caster. I don’t think there are many other 55mm baits that will reach that 9′ depth and none that cast as well as the Fat Papa 55,” says the Alabama pro.
Whereas the Fat Papa 70 is silent, Lane added rattles to the Fat Papa 55. He believes, “”You need rattles in cooler water. I don’t know the reason why, but based on experience, I just get a whole lot more bites with rattles in cooler water, and there’s often a correlation with cold water fishing being dirtier water too.”
Rattles also add ballast that helps the Fat Papa 55 dive deeper and the rattles help you throw it a lot further being a small bait. The rattles stay in an internal chamber and being lead, the sound has a little softer thud versus hard tungsten, brass or stainless bearings.”
Russ Lane was going for a little more of a custom-painted look with several of the colors in his crankbait series. ”Some of the unique ones are colors that I’ve had success with over the years, so they are already proven colors to me and I feel that most crankbait fishermen will immediately gain trust in them.”
Other colors that Lane has added to his crankbait line are custom-tuned to different regions of the country. “It seems like certain colors are more popular in certain areas. Like some of the reds out in California and the natural craws around the Ozarks. So I’ve added some of those regional favorites too,” he says.
Rod and Reel
Lane’s convinced that having a really good quality cranking rod really helps the action of crankbaits. “A good cranking stick has that extra bend you get in the bottom section of the rod that is vital to hooking and landing fish. Especially when you’re cranking real fast and you’re trying to get those reaction strikes, sometimes those fish just nip or swat at your bait and barely get hooked; you need that extra bend to land those fish,” explains Lane. “On the other end, the rod tip needs to give a little bit to let your bait have more of a natural action and it also helps land more fish because it gives you that little extra time for the fish to engulf the bait before you feel the bite.”
► Fat Papa 70 – “For this I use a Castaway Rods Composite Cranking rod. It is a 7’0″ composite (graphite and fiberglass blend) that has a good backbone down between the first guide and the reel seat section down toward the handle – but with a really limber tip that helps you throw the Fat Papa 70 a long, long distance. The tip is also soft enough tip that a fish is able to inhale that bait when it bites, and the tip works swell for fighting fish and keeping them pinned to the crankbait also.
► Fat Papa 55 – “For this, you need a little lighter action rod, and this one’s called the Castaway Skeleton Cranking rod. It too is a 7’0″ but with more of a medium type action and with a parabolic bend. What that means is it bends all the way through the rod from the tip down to the handle. That means you have got an extra amount of time for a fish to inhale the bait when it bites and more importantly, when you are fighting the fish, this rod is very soft and forgiving so that the smaller #4 treble hooks on the Fat Papa 55 do not pull out.
He uses a 5:1 Shimano reel which is designed for cranking. Lane feels a slow retrieve reel simply gives him more winching power.