Topwater fishing can be quite complicated at times. Sometimes the fish want a fast-moving bait, and sometimes they prefer a slower, side-to-side action with a few pauses thrown in between. Before you even get into technique, however, it’s important to first understand the different types of topwater baits out on the market. Luckily I’ll also cover where to throw which lure.
Topwater Walking Baits
Topwater walking baits imitate injured baitfish scurrying for their lives on the surface of the water. They are called “walking” baits because of the specific “Walk The Dog” retrieve that sets them apart from the other types of lures.. By giving firm twitches on slack line, these baits will kick side-to-side in a “Z” formation, moving a lot of water as well as creating flash and noise.
The beauty of fishing a walking bait is that you have complete control over how fast you want to fish the lure. Largemouth usually prefer a slower cadence as opposed to smallmouth and spotted bass who love crushing a quick-moving topwater bait. This is not true for every situation but you will have the ability to fish different cadences to adapt to each situation.
When To Fish A Walking Bait
These baits usually excel when the water is calmer, however, don’t be afraid to throw them in light wind. When fish are shallow any size walking bait will work, but when you’re trying to call fish out from the depths use a larger profile bait such as a Lunker Punker.
Walking baits are also the best for covering large areas of water, as they usually feature a weighted ball inside that helps you make incredibly long casts. The flashy darting motion across the surface is perfect for enticing bigger, more aggressive fish especially when you come across a feeding frenzy on a large baitball.
Topwater poppers are super old school but they work wonders. These baits can be any size but are typically a bit shorter than walking baits. The prominent feature of a popper is its curved mouth, which catches water with each twitch and creates a bubbly “pop” noise.
Benefits Of A Popper
Poppers prevail in certain situations over walking baits and other topwater lures. In windier conditions where a walking bait is both unable to create enough commotion and difficult to retrieve, the action of a popper shines. The fact that you can create a loud chugging noise is crucial to help the fish key in on the exact location of your lure- even in choppy conditions. You can even walk your popper if it is continuously twitched on slack line just like a walking bait, giving it a more aggressive, erratic action especially when baitfish are thick.
Poppers also prevail in the colder months, where bass and other species are extremely sluggish. With a popper you’re able to give it a hard twitch and let it sit still for a few long seconds while the ripples settle and continue to stir up the surface.
Prop Baits & Buzzbaits
These two styles of lures are known for creating the most commotion on the surface of the water. These loud, flashy lures can be fished in almost any situation whether the water is calm, windy, stained or clear.
When To Throw A Buzzbait
Buzzbaits truly shine in shallow water, but definitely cause enough commotion to draw fish up from the depths. This makes it a great search bait similar to walking baits but you can cover water even faster.
In murky water conditions the buzzbait is able to draw strikes when other topwater lures fail to do so. The loud clacking and bright flash make it more effective than the bubbling noise of a popper or silent gliding of a walking bait.
Buzzbaits are also slightly weedless, which makes them ideal for throwing between tully clumps and on top of vegetation growing just a few inches underneath the surface. The wire arms and blades will deflect off of vegetation and timber, giving a huge change of direction to your retrieve and causing an aggressive reaction strike.
These topwater baits can come in all shapes and sizes and are meant to resemble a number of different species. Wakebaits can be shaped to impersonate large baitfish, trout, or even rats and mice who are often found swimming from one piece of land to another. These baits are meant to be fished slower, causing a subtle wake on the water’s surface which drive the fish nuts.
Fishing A Wake Bait
First It’s important to determine what you would like your wakebait to resemble and how big you want the bait to be. Larger wakebaits can be 8-10” or even bigger depending on different situations. The rat wakebaits have been extremely popular in the past few years, and have definitely been proven to land big fish.
When fishing a wakebait it’s important to have patience throughout the retrieve. After casting, let your bait sit for a few moments on the surface while the ripples subside. After waiting, give the bait a slow and steady retrieve that will cause it to dive slightly, leaving only the back of the lure exposed.
These slower-moving baits are perfect for fishing calmer waters. When fish are holding tightly to structure a wake bait is perfect for staying in the strike zone longer to invoke a reaction. These lures are also great for fishing at night in the warmer months when bass move up to the shallows after the sun goes down.