I love fishing topwater. Nothing beats watching a little lure sitting nicely on top of the water suddenly be viciously gulped up by a nice largemouth or smallmouth. In the morning time, in the evening, when nothing seems to be biting, I usually tie a topwater on in hopes for that memorable crashing of hungry bass on the end of my line. And when it comes to picking a topwater, I’ve got my top 5 go-to lures that I know will always work.
You Say Popper, I Say Pop R
The Rebel Pop R is one of my favorite topwater lures that always seems to work in even the toughest of fishing conditions. It’s also a great lure for changing up your retrieve speed as well as the action of the lure. You can do a fast walking the dog type of retrieve where the lure spits up water causing lots of commotion. That type of retrieve usually works best on the rivers for smallmouth where the current doesn’t allow the lure to sit still above the holes.
On the lake, I usually prefer a pop-pause-pause-pop slow retrieve. This works really well when you are targeting specific holes or beds during spawning. It makes the lure appear like a dying and wounded bait fish waiting to be put out of its misery and there’s rarely a bass that isn’t ready to help it out.
For an even more realistic topwater popper, I highly recommend the Yo Zuri 3DB Popper. This beautiful lure will get even the most finicky of big bass to bite.
Froggy Goes A Courting
If you have a lot floating vegetation, lily pads, logs or shoreline where you might find frogs hanging out, why not join the party with your own topwater frog lure. There are many topwater frogs out there but one I like is the Live Target Hollow Body Frog lure. Like most of the frog lures, this one is weedless which is perfect for retrieving over lily pads and thick floating vegetation. Besides the crankbait, none of the other topwater lures work very well around thick floating vegetation as they aren’t weedless. I usually like finding the holes in the vegetation and toss the frog past it and retrieve it back over the hole. You usually find the bigger bass waiting for a frog or fish to swim through those openings where they can easily attack them. I also like dragging the frog off the shore like a regular bullfrog would do.
Buzz Buzz Buzz Bait
Another great topwater that is somewhat weedless is the buzz bait. Most buzz baits, like the Booyah Buzz, have hooks that sit up like a spinner bait allowing it to not snag any weeds or vegetation most times. It’s not as weedless as the frog but it works. The buzz bait is another favorite of mine of the river when I’m fishing for smallmouth. With the buzz bait, you have to retrieve it at a pretty good speed to keep it on top of the water and buzzing or churning the water. I usually try to retrieve the buzz bait at the slowest speed possible in order to keep it on top. Although some of the most violent bites I’ve ever gotten from a largemouth is when I was retrieving it quickly. The buzz bait is also a great bait to agitate the bass on the beds as the blades tend to make some of the loudest noise of all the topwater lures. It’s loud, it’s annoying and bass will be fighting each other to go and shut it up.
These last two are classic topwater lures that have worked for fishermen for decades. While I don’t use them as often as the three above, I still have them in my tackle box and will occasionally tie them on and fish them. The first is the Arbogast Hula Popper topwater lure. It has the popper mouth like the Pop R but has a nice silicone skirt in the back like a buzz bait. It kinds of mimics a frog floating on the top of the water. This classic lure hit the market about 60 years ago and is still a great go-to lure for topwater action.
The final lure is even older than the Hula Popper. The Heddon Zara Spook has been walking the dog for over 75 years and scaring up the big bass. The walk-the-dog retrieve that works best for the Zara Spook is a slow jerk retrieve where the lure pops left and right like it is walking. It’s a good lure to mimic wounded baitfish when you see the game fish scaring the bait fish to the surface. Just look for the bait fish surfacing and toss the Spook into the fray and hope the bass or other gamefish is hungry for your offering.