There are few events in the fishing universe that rival the excitement of a bass crushing a topwater lure. Indeed, the entire visual experience of presenting a frog, popper, or walking bait on the surface creates a palpable sense of nervous anticipation among topwater devotees, which can only be relieved by a positive hookset that sends an unsuspecting largemouth or smallmouth careening toward the boat. While many anglers associate topwater lures with low light conditions or summer heat, bass can be taken on surface lures during the entirety of the open water season and even under the bright midday sun. Let’s examine some of the current tools of the topwater trade that will help you hoist more bass into the boat this year.
Classic lure styles
Poppers, walking baits, prop baits, and frogs represent some of the classic topwater lure styles that many bass anglers have thrown at one time or another. While your Grandpa’s tackle collection may include a version of many of these lures, modern innovations in materials and manufacturing ensure that these classics remain timeless in their effectiveness.
Consider, for example, the hollow body frog. The best frogs expertly balance sufficient weight for long casts with optimum buoyancy to float with a lifelike profile at rest: head high and tail low. Hollow body frogs are constructed from a soft, flexible material that collapses readily under the pressure of the bite to ensure positive hooksets. And about those hooks – hollow body frogs are typically rigged with a custom double hook featuring exceptionally sharp points that penetrate the bass’ mouth easily. Put all of those pieces together, and you’ve created a bass-triggering machine that will help extract largemouth from the nastiest of cover.
LIVETARGET hollow body frogs are among the best-performing topwaters in my collection. As a company, LIVETARGET prides itself in crafting exceptionally lifelike lures with biomimetic colors, profiles, and appearance details like eyes, gills, scales, and more. Indeed, many LIVETARGET frogs are excellent replicas of their living counterparts. To me, however, the on-the-water performance of a lure always supersedes its appearance in the package, and LIVETARGET hollow body frogs are the real deal. They cast a mile, float perfectly at rest, and attract a ton of attention when slithered through cover and worked in open water. Like all topwater lures, pausing a moment after the strike – so that the line comes tight and the bass has a chance to dive away from the boat – will help make your hooksets more effective. If you’re still missing lots of strikes, consider giving the rubber skirts that represent the frog’s legs a little trim; sometimes, those long skirts can get wedged between the hook and the frog’s body, impeding a positive hookset.
A hybrid lure is one that blends together the features of two or more other baits in an effort to make the hybrid more effective than its predecessors. For example, you might consider the Z-Man ChatterBait to be a hybrid lure, created by the marriage of a skirted jig with a metal crankbait lip. The result is a wildly effective creation that pulses like a swim jig, yet darts and vibrates over and through cover like a squarebill crankbait. If I could only own three bass lures, I’m pretty sure that one would be a ChatterBait.
Hybrid lures are no stranger to the topwater arena, and the Prop Walker from Savage Gear is one new hybrid that has earned a place in my tackle collection. The body of the Prop Walker is reminiscent of pencil poppers that are so popular among saltwater anglers: it is slender in the front with a cupped head that spits a lot of water, and features a large, loud internal rattle chamber and an aerodynamic, long-cast profile. Concealed within its rotating tail section are a pair of robust, snap-out propeller blades that rapidly convert the walking bait into a water-churning prop bait that creates a ton of commotion and a long-lasting bubble trail. In the Prop Walker, you have the flexibility to quickly change between a walk-the-dog retrieve for clear waters and an aggressive, noisy prop presentation for dirty or stained waters, all without having to tie on a new lure or grab a different rod from the deck. Give the Prop Walker a try – I think you’ll really like it.
Topwater line selection
Picking the right line is a key component of topwater presentations, and indeed, the best line will change as you throw different lures. For example, when fishing in dense vegetation, hollow body frogs are best presented on braided line. A super-smooth eight-carrier braid like Seaguar Smackdown will support the long casts you need to bomb your frog into hard-to-reach areas, and its no-stretch characteristics will ensure that you can set the hook when a bass engulfs your frog at the far end of your cast. Spool up with 50 lb test Seaguar Smackdown in the Stealth Gray color pattern to minimize line visibility near the bait.
When fishing a topwater bait like a popper, walking bait, or prop bait in open water, a castable fluorocarbon is typically the best line choice. An excellent option for such presentations is 15 lb test Seaguar Tatsu: a 100% fluorocarbon that perfectly blends line strength with suppleness through Seaguar’s exclusive double-structure process. With Tatsu, you’ll experience all of the benefits of fluorocarbon, including abrasion resistance and near invisibility underwater, in a strong main line with incredible tensile and knot strength.