Tides   

Topwater Lures for Bass

The Bass fishing in Florida is world class, and topwater lures will almost always draw strikes if you fish them in the right places at the right time of day.

Today we’re going to talk about catching fish–especially Largemouth Bass–with topwater lures. You can also catch all kinds of saltwater fish on topwater lures, but for now, we want to concentrate on topwater lures for Largemouth Bass. Living close to the Gulf of Mexico, we tend to spend more time on the salt than the lakes, but Florida is the sport fishing capital of the world, not the saltwater fishing capital of the world. The Bass fishing here is world class, and topwater lures will almost always draw strikes if you fish them in the right places at the right time of day.

Bass Are Always Looking Up

A late friend of ours, Doug Hannon, spent his entire life watching Largemouth Bass. His name may not be recognizable to a lot of younger readers, but the wealth of knowledge the man left behind concerning the fish he loved so much will live forever. The man knew Bass–how to watch them and how to find them. The last time we had lunch, he told me again about a fish he knew personally. A fish he felt weighed almost thirty pounds. A Florida fish.

I could write for years about the stuff I learned from Doug Hannon. And I’m not the only one. Captain Dave Rieumont, the face, voice, and intelligence behind the Ask a Captain series, has a copy of Big Bass by Hannon with so many red pen marks on it and so much of the text highlighted that you can only imagine how many hours he spent implementing the knowledge from that book in the real world of Florida’s lakes and rivers. And it worked. Another member of our team, Vance Tice, spent years in the tournament environment chasing Largemouth Bass. He has second, third, and fourth copies of Hannon’s books for having worn out or given away his older ones.


Big Bass Magic (Paperback) - Buy on Amazon

Types of Topwater Lures

There are a couple of different types of topwater lures, all designed to disturb the surface in one way or another. Largemouth Bass are among a species called “superior” by biologists. It doesn’t mean they’re more important or smarter or richer than other fish, merely that their bottom jaws are shorter than their top jaws. The upward-angled mouth has a tendency to look up for bait, meaning, regardless of where in the water column the fish might be at the moment, they will hear and see something making noise above them.

Lures for Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing

These two images show our personal favorite topwater lures for catching Largemouth Bass with a flyrod. We have caught Bass with all kinds of flies, but none work as well as mice.


Fly Fishing Mouse Lures - Buy on Amazon

Flies tied to simulate frogs are great too, and can be as simple as this fly from Orvis. It’s a simple piece of cork, glass eyes, and feathers that pop on the surface. The mouse takes a lot more effort to create from scratch, and only gently twitches on the surface. Both are Bass killers.

orvis fly lure

Poppers for Largemouth Bass on Spinning or Baitcasting Rods

Poppers do just that–they pop. These are heavier lures that are used with spinning tackle or baitcasting rods. Both can throw the weighted lure and have enough stiffness to let you essentially snap the tip of the rod during the retrieve. The snap pulls the cup-like fronts of the lure towards you, and pushes a great deal of water ahead of it. The noise is enough to get the attention of almost any Bass. If they’re eating, they’ll hit the lure. This one from Arbogast is called a Hula Popper and is one of the all-time classic topwater lures for Largemouth Bass.


Hula Popper Fishing Lure - Buy on Amazon

Propeller Lures

Propeller lures have one or two props on them so when retrieved, they leave a small wake behind and around the lure. Some of us remove the front props, feeling it makes the lure more responsive, but try them the way they’re built before you make any adjustments. They allow you retrieve the lure in a steady pull. If a Bass sees it, they will usually strike from underneath. Remember to bend all the barbs down on lures like this so you can release the fish with a good chance it will survive the encounter. Barbs catch the flesh and you essentially have to tear them from the fish’s mouth to get them out.


This is another of the proven and classic lures for Largemouth Bass: the Heddon Zara Spook. This one is more the shading of a Largemouth Bass or freshwater fish, but silver and saltwater versions of the lure can produce huge Snook. They are prop lures of the highest quality from a proven manufacturer.

Mice and frogs are available for spinning and baitcasting rods, too. They are as productive as the weightless versions used by fly anglers.

mouse fishing lure2
Soft Rubber Mouse Fishing Lures - Buy on Amazon

Lunker Frog Series Fishing Lure - Buy on Amazon

The Magic of Topwater Lures for Largemouth Bass

Catching Largemouth Bass can be as easy as throwing a lure into the water, reeling it in slowly, and recognizing when the weight on the other end is alive and angry. But to catch them consistently, release them alive and healthy, and be able to do it a majority of the times you try, you need to spend a lot of time on the water. The more time, the more you will love the sport and the better you will become at it. Fishing topwater for Largemouth Bass can be the first skill set you develop, or one you have relied upon for decades to produce fish under almost any condition. But until you have experienced a decent-sized hit on a surface lure from a Largemouth Bass, you ain’t seen, heard, or felt nothing yet.



The Online Fisherman

GHM logo