Ask any fisherman or woman the most entertaining
method of catching bass and chances are they will respond
with "the top water bite". From my own personal experience,
I can tell you that I laughed so much with the excitement,
that my partner thought I was going to have a heart attack!
Whilst this method has a lower "strike to
catch ratio" compared to other forms of bass fishing, it
is still worth using and keeping nearby in case the surface
comes alive with bait fish jumping out of the water for
The tackle required depends upon conditions,
however, I believe that bass can be caught all day long
on a top water lure. For me, a small arsenal of top water
lures is a must, but remember to alternate them to match
the changing mood of the fish. I prefer a 6 and ˝ to 7-foot
baitcasting rod with 15lb test line. Whenever possible before
using any store purchased lure, I always change the hooks
to a premium hook such as Gamakatsu. I have seen too many
hooks straighten or break from a large fish, or the hook
been thrown, because they were not sharp enough.
I will often start with the buzzbait. This lure comes with
single, double, treble and in-line, blade combinations.
I like to use smaller buzzbaits, but that is not to say
that a large six or eight inch buzzbait with loud blades
will not produce. Correctly tuned buzzbaits should NEVER
run straight. If it does, something is wrong, fish do not
swim in straight lines and neither should your buzzbait.
Bend the propeller or propellers to arch the retrieve in
the water. The more splash and noise it makes, the more
fish will see it and attack it.
Start your retrieve quickly. After a few casts if you are
not getting any bites, slow down the retrieve until a fish
swirls near the bait* or strikes it. This is the bass telling
you at what speed they want their meal moving. Next come
top water poppers. This name is used to cover a large group
of surface lures with cupped faces that give the "popping"
sound. This lure spits water when retrieved with small downward
jerks of the rod tip toward the water surface. The dimension
of this lure is important. Make sure you know the size and
colors of the baitfish that live in that body of water you
are fishing. Referred to in fly fishing as "matching the
hatch", your lure color and size plays an important role
on bright sunny days when the sunlight reflects off the
body and flashes on the surface of the water. On overcast
days, color is not so important, as the bass do not get
to see much more than the outline of the bait and will make
a decision to either ignore the bait, or strike at it. Again,
if the fish swirl at the bait* you should be prepared to
drop the rod you and use a floating plastic worm.
Next come the "spook" baits. Zara Spook® and Zara Puppy®
or similar cigar shaped lures. (Often I will increase the
size of the hook from a 1/0 to a 2/0 with this lure). The
best method of retrieval is "walking the dog"'. This snapping,
twitching and slow line retrieval combination takes some
practice but once mastered can be deadly when top water
action is at its height. When bass are chasing shad to the
surface, this lure should be cast directly on top of the
fish, keeping the boat a good distance from the area of
activity. Casting accuracy is vital, as a badly placed cast
will waste precious moments until you can cast again. To
practice your casting in your backyard or in a park, use
a rubber weight in place of the lure. I often use an old
car tire or a bucket as a target and practice for an hour
When a fish takes a top water offering, WAIT. Let the fish
take the lure, feel the weight of the fish and then set
the hook. All to often, the initial reaction is to strike,
but this often pulls the lure out of the mouth of the fish.
When the fish are biting, I usually count s-l-o-w-l-y to
three, then set the hook.
Surface fishing spinner baits and jerkbaits will often catch
fish. Again start with a fast retrieve and slow it down
till the fish tell you what they want.
The floating worm is often overlooked as a top water lure,
but can be deadly when fish will not take a larger top water
offering. If fish continue to swirl near the buzzbait or
popper, but will not strike it, pitch a brightly colored
worm (pink or yellow works well) and chances are the bass
will swallow this offering more readily
Charles - Contact me with your questions or comments at