Rago Baits - Hitch Swimbait
Author: Rob Belloni
The Rago Hitch was released in the early spring of 2006. This 6 and 3/4” bait is available in 3 colors (dark hitch, kokanee, and light hitch) and comes stock with a #1 Owner Stinger treble hook. The Rago Hitch retails for approximately $18.
I was fairly intrigued when I saw the first pics of the Rago Hitch. There have been a good number of baits labeled as hitch or pitched as hitch imitators in the past few years but the majority of the baits are simply trout style baits that have been repainted. The Rago Hitch interested me because it actually mimics some of the features of the hitch baitfish. The pointed nose, the eye placement, and the shape of the fins in particular are much more minnow like than trout like. The wedge type tail also gives a more accurate profile from the side than your typical boot tail. For me, the more that a lure looks like the actual fish it’s representing, the higher my confidence goes!
The swimming action on the Rago Hitch is a brisk, vibrating kick. The bait doesn’t have a slow wag like you would see on a Huddleston Deluxe, it’s a quick, high speed, kicking action. When I put my sample baits to the test, they both ran straight and true out of the package and fished consistently up to a high speed. At slower speeds the bait does kick but this is the kind of bait where you want to keep the handle turning during the retrieve. The Rago Hitch sinks at a moderate rate, a bit less than 1 foot per second.
The Owner hook and split ring on the bait are both excellent and require no replacing. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I get bait that doesn’t require spending more money to upgrade the hardware, and the Rago Hitch gets that job done. The size and shape of this bait are also going to get the job done for you tournament anglers out there looking for a good bait to pick up 3lb+ fish. This is the type of bait that could just as easily put a 10lber in the boat as a 3lber.
As far as the colors go, there are only three at this time. The light hitch looks most like a real hitch in my opinion. The dark hitch is a brown/purple color and I can’t say that I have seen any hitch photos that looked like that, though it could do well as a general minnow imitator. The kokanee color is the one that really looks slick. There are not a lot of good kokanee imitators available right now but this bait is going to be a very good one in clear water situations when imitating small kokanee salmon. This bait may be called the ‘Hitch’ but color wise, the kokanee pattern is my favorite.
The main thing I wasn’t happy about with the Hitch was the hook placement. The hook is located almost exactly in the center of the belly of the bait, with the idea being that the fins will hide the hook. If you know lure maker Jerry Rago, you know that Jerry is not exactly targeting 3lb bass so one hook is plenty for him. But with a 6.75” bait you have to assume that many people will be using it in tournament situations, and there are many times in tournaments where you would definitely want to throw a bait like this with two hooks on the belly. I’d like to see the hook placement closer to the chin on the Rago Hitch to give some flexibility with hook placement.
As mentioned above, there are only 3 color variations available with the Hitch. I’d really like to see a few more options with this bait! A bright silver/green hitch variation and a trout variation could be nice additions. Perhaps a shad color as well because even though the bait is not a shad style bait, it might get some bites when large threadfin or gizzard shad are around.
One last thing to mention is the wire harness. I haven’t torn a bait apart to see how tough it is but I get the feeling that this is a bait where the wire loop in the belly will loosen up when you catch fish or get snagged. This was a common problem on the original Generic Swimbaits and Live Trout Softbaits and the Hitch is likely to have the same issue. You may get a bunch of fish per bait but I would expect more in the range of 8-10 fish per lure before it starts to get loose. Sometimes a loose bait will continue to work but it can also cause the baits to go out of tune. So that’s an expectation setter if you’re considering purchasing this lure.
Overall I believe this bait will be a fish catcher and although I haven’t heard a lot of feedback about it yet, I have a feeling this could be a sleeper for guys who discover it’s potential as a hitch, minnow, and kokanee imitator.