Most anglers agree that one of the most exhilarating experiences in the sport of fishing is hitting a predatory fish on the surface of the water. Watching and catching a big fish hit your lure is a pretty cool experience but you will need the right kind of equipment and knowledge to do it. What is topwater fishing?
Topwater fishing uses special equipment & techniques that are designed to work with topwater lures that float on the surface of the water. Poppers, Plugs, & Prop Baits Lures are cast & retrieved on topwater mimicking, color noise & shape of insects, small fish, or other food predatory fish prey on.
Rod Setup and equipment are just as important as right topwater Lures and technique and hopefully, this article can help you with the skill you need to become better at fishing on the top surface of inland water for the most exciting way to fish from a boat or the shore.
Topwater Rod Setup
To work your topwater lures the most natural way on the surface of any type of water you’ll need the best Rod Setup. With the right rod & reel setup, you’ll get the best action and feel from your topwater lure as it walks back to you on the surface of the water. If you are doing a lot of casting it’s important that you are comfortable with the length of your rod otherwise things will get sloppy like losing control of the rod tip hitting the water or catching the boat.
- Use a Carbon Medium-Action stiff rod that is around 6ft 10 in long. Try to find something between 6’4″ to 7 ft just a bit shorter is actually better for most topwater lures. This allows for more cadence or action when working any type of Topwater lure. It also adds more control for the user that longer-type rods don’t have. Choose a rod with a shorter butt section that also contributes to controlling the action, keeping the rod closer to your body which then helps gives a crankbait or topwater lure more presentation and movement. If you want to throw heavier lures try a little bit longer rod, like 7’4″ medium-heavy action for stepping up. Good for casting farther and for bigger baits Buzzbaits, frogs, swim jigs it just adds more versatility.
- Use a light action reel 5:1 gear or better yet 7:1 ratio with a higher speed gear ratio. With the ability of a slower presentation that is ideal for crankbaits and other high resistance lures Abu Garcia 1430443 Revo Winch Low Profile Baitcasting Reel, 5.4: 1 Gear Ratio, 22″ Retrieve Rate, 24 lb Max Drag, 9 Bearings, Right Hand
- Use a loop knot at the end of your lure that keeps the Topwater lure up on the top of the surface of the water giving it a better presentation that you are able to see as you bring it in. It will free the lure up making it retrieve more naturally.
- Use 14-17 lb. test Monifialament leader on Braid line-that will keep the line stiff enough where it won’t come back up on the lure and wrap around the treble hooks. Smaller pound leader for lighter lures and 17 pounds for the heavier baits. The color of the line really doesn’t matter because the monofilament line will be sitting on the surface of the water where the fish can’t see it.
Topwater Fishing Lures
Topwater Plug lures can run any kind type of color or method of fishing like With most Topwater lures you want to use a monofilament leader because it doesn’t sink as fast as the fluorocarbon line keeping your lure insight and on top of the surface. Some anglers will remove the split ring on the nose of the lures that can make the sink and nose dive on the retrieve. Learn to tie a loop knot this will act as a split ring for the best movement on the water.
The length of the leader on the lure should be between 1 and 2 ft long and we noted earlier the color won’t matter because the leader should be sitting on top of the surface where the fish will not see it. The length should be up to you and your situation and shouldn’t affect the action of the lure. Plug type of bait that will do walking the dog type lures
One of the most most popular Topwater Fishing Lures available today is the Heddon Super Spook Bone Color The Super Spook is a glide topwater plug or a walk-the-dog style bait. The Glide Baits are a slower-moving topwater plug that doesn’t move a lot of water. Most of these Lures emulate an injured fish moving on the surface of the water.
At times Striper will key in on a less obtrusive topwater plug. Some anglers like to remove the middle treble hook, cut off one of the front treble hook barbs, and replace the rear treble hook with a single saltwater hook.
Poppers, sometimes called chuggers are hard plastic or wooden plugs with a flat or concave face. When quickly jerked, they pop, splash, and chug, which emulates prey struggling on the surface. Poppers are the ideal surface bait for target fishing. They can be accurately cast and should be worked close to laydowns, docks, rocks, and anything else fish would hold on. Poppers are excellent from post-spawn all the way through the fall. Jerk your rod tip down, in short, jerking motions. Try different cadences until you start getting bites – a pop, pop, pause, repeat cadence is a good place to start.
Props Plugs have a prop feature on the front or the back of the lure which helps trigger a reaction from the bigger fish you are looking for. With most Topwater lures you want to use a monofilament leader because it doesn’t sink as fast as the fluorocarbon line keeping your lure insight and on top of the surface. Experiment with the movement until the pattern catches fish keeping the lure insight.
Some anglers will remove the split ring on the nose of the lures that can make the sink and nose dive on the retrieve. Learn to tie a loop knot this will act as a split ring for the best movement on the water.
This next video will show you the best way to tie the Loop Knot giving you the best results for moving your plug on the surface of the water giving it a natural life movement for attracting predator fish. Like the guy in the video says everybody fishing with artificial lures should know how to tie this knot.
How to Tie a Loop Knot
When To Use Topwater Lures
The art of Topwater fishing is a way of convincing and enticing a fish that may be more inquisitive than hungry. Some lure made for Topwater fishing slide across the surface water reflecting color and shining under the sun. Other lures will kick up water splashing their way back to your rod while others like the Prop Lures sputter and splash creating a surface commotion when retrieved and providing a visual and audible focus for a fish to key in on.
Making noises that a predatory fish just can resist an investigation to find out what is passing his home. Once they key in on it they just can’t leave it without taking a nip. BANG- Fish On!
Topwater baits primarily are successful during early morning and evening periods. They have also found by pro anglers to be effective during hot weather periods, especially when fish are in ambush mode and tight to cover. Sometimes they proved useful during rainy and overcast days, especially when fish are super hungry. Still, good times to use topwater lures are:
- Fish with topwater lures throughout the day, not only during “prime times.”
- Prop Baits with rattles can help call fish in, especially during murky water conditions.
- Use Natural colored baits are good bets during clear water fishing environments.
- Topwaters lures during the midnight hour can account for big fish
- Lines that won’t stretch because these no stretch lines allow for easier hook sets, especially on long casts.
- Concentrate on or close to cover especially with largemouth bass they will usually be close by.
- Warm summer temperatures night and daytime
The best tip that I heard and has proven itself is never set the hook on the initial strike. Although it may seem like the thing to do, it will usually end up with a lure flying back at the angler full steam. Wait for a second or two for the fish to turn with your lure before setting the hook. This extra wait will result in much more fish to the boat. And when it is time, set that hook hard.
If most of your fishing is done for Largemouth Bass, they hit topwater the best in early spring, between February and March depending on the location. Bass are found in topwater when there are low periods of light, during dusk and dawn. In early spring, Largemouth can also be found in noon and mid-afternoon. Post spawn is considered the best time to throw topwater lures.
A buzzbait is similar to a spinnerbait, but with a triangular-shaped delta blade, which causes it to lift and sputter, spit, and squeak on the surface. Buzzbaits can be dynamite any time the bass are feeding around shallow cover, and are relatively weedless which allows them to be fished in some pretty thick stuff. Buzzbaits are one of the earliest topwater lures to become effective and can be fished from pre-spawn all the way through the fall.