Any bass angler will likely tell you that topwater fishing provides some of the most exciting bass bites to behold. There is nothing like the visual action of an epic topwater blowup, after all its one of the only forms of bass fishing where you actually get to see a bass take your lure.
Which is why most anglers can’t wait for early dawn or dusk hours, and the warm temperatures of spring and early summer, to break out topwater lures and start walking, popping, and buzzing to drive bass crazy. But the truth is, while topwater lures are traditionally best during late spring and early summer, they can be used in many seasons and varying water temperatures and still catch fish.
Top 3 Topwaters
Spring and early summer are big topwater seasons because water temperatures are just right. Water temps have a big effect on bass behavior and how they feed. In temps less than 55 degrees bass are very inactive, same is said for temps above 80 degrees. When the water is in between those temps bass are energetic and aggressive, the two main ingredients required for good topwater fishing.
The reason dusk and dawn are so well known for being the best times for topwater fishing is they are low light conditions. Bass spend most of their lives staying out of the sun, because unlike humans, their eyes do not adjust to brightness. That’s why they are often found under docks, trees, lily pads, or even in deeper water. Once the sun is down though, they travel to the open shallows in search of food.
The depth range of a body of water, and water clarity, play a big role in topwater fishing. They are also a factor in what is considered “shallow”, but typically one to four feet is the range, and the best depths for topwater bass fishing. Additionally, in clearer waters, bass holding at deeper depths can still see a topwater lure or struggling baitfish on the surface.
A struggling bait fish is most often what bass think they are seeing when a topwater lure is in action, sputtering and slashing on the surface. There are topwater lures that imitate all kinds of prey like frogs, mice, even small birds, but in most cases a struggling baitfish on the surface is what they are targeting.
So when is the best time for topwater bass fishing? In low light conditions like dusk, dawn or over cast days, when the water is warm (60 degrees plus), when the water is somewhat clear, and when baitfish are active. Bass also have to be pretty active to hit topwater. If it’s a slow bite like after a cold front, the topwater bite will likely be very slow.
Best Topwater Lures
Top water lures come in all shapes and sizes, and in most cases float. The bulk of them are made of hard plastic and are equipped with treble hooks. Treble hooks help increase your chances of having a fish get and stay hooked when they strike, since bass can often miss a topwater lure, or barely hit it. This is especially true for the fast moving models.
They’re not all made from hard plastic however, some are made of solid robber, soft hollow plastic, metal, or a combination. A buzzbait for instance is made up of a metal wire, metal/plastic propellor, and a rubber skirt. It’s also one of the few topwater lures that do not float.
When selecting a topwater bait, you should start with fast moving lures and reduce the speed by methodically switching to slower moving ones if your not getting strikes. This is how you find out how aggressive the bass are that day. Sometimes they will chase almost anything, and other times will only go after a very easy target.
Here are some of the best topwater lures that you should be using:
Popper Lures “Chuggers”
Poppers are floating lures with a cupped mouth, meaning the front of the lure has an indented bowl shape. In the mouth is where the line attaches, and where all the action the lure creates comes from. This is one of, if not the slowest moving topwater lures.
When fishing a topwater popper, you simply cast the lure out and let it float. You then jerk your rod pulling the lure and causing the mouth to plow through the surface of the water. As it’s being pulled it makes a “pop” as water bubbles up over it. Some are designed with bigger mouths for a slower but bigger “chugging” action, while others have smaller mouths and made for working a little faster with smaller pops.
For more on topwater poppers click here
Walk The Dog Lures “Walkers”
These floating topwaters are long and skinny, usually equipped with a pair of treble hooks. Most models are torpedo shaped. Because of their shape they are often categorized as stickbaits, but since their walking action is so unique they have their own category.
They are called “walk the dog” lures because you have to “walk” them across the surface. The walk-the-dog action is created by jerking the rod tip repetitively with your wrist, causing the lure to zigzag from side to side. The motion creates disturbance on the surface and mimics an injured baitfish. It’s one of the best topwater lures because you have a lot of control in the action you want to give off.
For more on walkers click here
Frog Lures “Frogging”
Hollow body frogs might be the most weedless lure there is. They have a soft plastic body that is designed to collapse and expose the hook as bass bite down on them. The lure floats and the hooks face upright, leaving very little chances for getting hung up.
This is a great advantage in bass fishing because you can cast in areas you could never with other lures. Lily pads and other floating vegetation are the ideal places to fish topwater frogs. Bass hide out under these types of vegetation as they provide a great source of oxygenated water, shade, cover, and food. So dragging frogs across the tops of them entice the bass below.
For more on topwater frog lures click here
Buzzbaits are the fastest moving topwater lure there is, so if your looking to cover a lot of water quickly they are your best bet. They come equipped with a propellor designed to make the bait travel across the waters surface while disrupting it and causing a ton of commotion. As the blades of the prop spin and hit the water surface, they create a splashing and rippling that really appeal to bass.
Buzzbaits are great for fishing around cover like along weeds and timber. They’re somewhat weedless since the hook faces upright as it travels through the water so you can cast in a lot of areas other topwaters can’t get to.
For more on buzzbaits click here
Propellor Lures “Prop Baits”
These torpedo shaped floaters do all the work for you as you reel them in. They come equipped with one or more propellors that spin as the lure is retrieved. As the propellor spins it disturbs the surface and creates a noise that bass can hear and feel.
They are far from weedless so working them around the edges of cover is best. Typically you would only use these on a calm day when the surface is still. The props are smaller than the ones on a buzzbait so if theres a heavy ripple from wind on the surface then the action these lures give off is not going to be very noticeable.
For more on prop baits click here
If your just beginning your topwater lure collection, start with a popper like the Rebel Pop-R. They’re a great starting point because they’re easy to use. Cast it out on a calm late afternoon and watch the water explode as a waiting bass clobbers the lure from below with force and speed. The heart racing adrenaline rush that follows in the wake of the ambush is unparalleled.