[TIPS] How to tackle topwater bass
Where to Throw It: Trees and standing timber. Typically smaller than walkers, poppers can also play the short game with brief, targeted casts to structure. A concave face pushes water and air on every twitch for a bold display that pulls deep fish topside.
How to Fish It: Use a sharp, downward rod motion on a slack line to grab air and create maximum pop without too much forward movement. Contrary to walkers, a fluoro leader can help here by pulling the popper down for a deeper blooping sound.
Where to Throw It: The classic side-to-side, walk-the-dog saunter excels in any open-water scenario, but it’s especially productive when bass school on bait pods or target early-morning shad spawns. Also, use these lures to probe points and bluff ends, and crisscross reefs (killer smallmouth structure).
How to Fish It: A braided main line can gather in front of your walker and foul the front hook. A short monofilament or fluorocarbon leader remedies this. But understand, also, that too much fluoro pulls the bait’s nose down and mars the presentation. In either case, a loop knot allows for maximum motion. Try using both high- and low-pitch rattle options to determine daily preferences.
Where to Throw It: Near bass beds in deeper water, or shallow bluegill beds later in the spring and summer. Both long and slender, and short and stubby configurations prove highly effective for irritating bass into coming topside.
How to Fish It: Same as with poppers, twitch these baits on a slack line to get those blades sputtering while maximizing the commotion with short spurts. For enhanced sound, loosen the prop screws just enough to allow the cup washers to rattle. When fishing for finicky bass in ultra-clear water, consider switching to a spy bait—a subsurface version of the standard prop bait intended to be fished slowly on a horizontal plane.
Where to Throw It: Walk this amphibian impostor across weed mats or through sparse grass, but also skip it under docks and overhanging limbs. Narrow-nose models push through the heavy stuff, while popping frogs create a bass-attracting ruckus in sparse vegetation and open-water lanes within the cover. How to Fish It: Leave the fringy legs intact for maximum profile over bass beds. But if fish are nipping at the legs and missing the hookup in thicker vegetation, trim the legs to shrink the profile. If you cut one side a half an inch shorter than the other, the frog will pull to the long side, causing it to swim more erratically—like the real thing.
5 TOPWATER TIPS Hooks that Hold
Thrown hooks are the bane of topwater fishing. Replacing stock hooks with round-bend trebles offers more bite for greater holding power.
Red Alert When fish are short-striking, a red front hook presents a target point and often improves hookups.
Tail Gun’em If fish follow without committing, feathered rear hooks can close the deal by contracting and flaring with a topwater’s motion. Try red, chartreuse, or white, each with flashy Mylar accents.
Know Your Knot Walkers and poppers do best with relaxed motion, so tie up with a loop knot. Prop baits require linear movement, while frogs need maximum pulling power for the dense habitat in which they’re used most. Both work better with gripping knots like the Palomar or double-improved clinch.
Master the Misses Premature hook sets kill topwater opportunities. Remember, the first thing you see is the fish pushing a wall of water toward your bait, so stay calm and let the fish come tight before reacting. If the fish misses, freeze the bait, let the rings settle, and slowly twitch it to mimic a wounded baitfish. If it’s a no-go, try swapping out baits.