On Top of The World

This story about direct experience with a few topwater lures for Largemouth Bass is an expansion of one we wrote a while back.

Watch for more about one of America's (and the world's) most popular sport fish coming on The Online Fisherman.

Anyone who has Bass fished or fished at all, for that matter, knows the sheer excitement of watching a fish take a bait from the water’s surface. It’s one of the most exciting parts of fishing. The question is, when do you use that technique and what is the difference? You will often hear that top water is only effective early in the morning or late in the evening or when it’s cloudy or overcast. When it comes to Bass fishing, I always have a top water lure tied on because you never know. Bass are always looking for food and cover, so you have to be prepared. But how do you know what kind of top water bait to use? We’re going to look at four basic types of top water baits and general ways to use them. Remember, these are just broad guidelines so don’t be afraid to experiment. As my good friend Captain David Rieumont is fond of saying, “There are no rules in fishing.”


The popper is an effective bait, especially when the fish seem to be a little sluggish. I don’t know if it’s because of the glug sound that makes the fish think there are other fish feeding, or if it’s simply curiosity that makes them come take a look. I love to fish this bait around the edges of grass beds, especially when Bluegill have moved up into the grass. Popping lures are made to replicate many different kinds of forage. One of my favorite lures is a popping frog, because I can fish it in and around the grass with equal effectiveness.

Prop Baits

My all time favorite top water bait is a Heddon Torpedo, and the name describes it perfectly. It looks like it’s out to sink a destroyer when in fact it’s searching for Bass. The prop on the back makes a very distinct sound and looks like a baitfish tail flicking on top of the water. This is a fantastic bait when you have a little chop on the water because of the commotion it makes.

Walking Baits

Probably the most famous bait ever made is the Heddon Zara Spook. This bait has probably caught just about every kind of fish on the planet, from Bass to Snook to Tarpon. The Zara Spook is a walking bait and many companies have replicated that side-to-side action in their top water lineups. This method requires a bit of a learning curve, but once you have it down, it’s extremely effective. After casting, simply keep your rod tip pointed down and some slack in your line. Give the rod a couple of quick jerks in a motion down and toward you. This will cause the bait to dart from side to side like a wounded baitfish. I love fishing this bait in the morning when the water is calm.

Buzz Bait

Quite possibly the most fun and easy top water bait to fish is the buzz bait. Mainly a Bass lure, but also used occasionally for Redfish, this bait is a big Bass bruiser. While you may not catch a ton of fish on a buzz bait, the ones you do catch are usually good ones. This bait is meant for shallow water fishing, as the noise it makes brings fish out of cover. It’s not as effective when the fish are deep. The technique is simple; cast and retrieve. You can speed it up and slow it down as long as you keep those blades turning on the top. Most people use these baits in the heat of the summer when the Bass’s metabolism is high, but don’t be afraid to experiment at different times of the year. If you think the fish are up around shallow cover, give it a try. Oh, and make sure you put on a trailer hook.

There are many top water baits by many companies but 99% of them will fit in these categories. Find a couple you like and get out and give it a try.

By Dan Doyle and Jake Scott

The Online Fisherman

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