Let’s Talk Topwater
Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
With fall fast approaching, the involuntary thoughts of many bass anglers are centered around an explosion. An explosion of water. Something akin to dropping a cinder block from an airplane into their favorite lake. Except, the target of this explosion is their favorite topwater lure. The cause of the explosion is their favorite gamefish.
As fall temperatures and shorter daylight periods impact the water temperature of lakes, rivers, creeks, ponds and reservoirs, the baitfish change their patterns. They tend to group up and congregate in shallow areas. That can be around the shoreline, in the backs of bays or pockets, or even on main lake flats. No matter the locale, one thing is certain; hungry bass aren’t too far away.
These bass have a lot going for them. Oftentimes the forage base is fairly mature at this point in the year, so their meals can offer more bang for their buck. The bait they are hunting is usually in big schools which translates into bass hunting in big schools. The water temps are favorable for a bass’ comfortability. Meaning that cooler water equals less stress and more energy (they are more efficient as predators). The bait that they are feeding on is often found in shallow water, which adds the unique element of the surface to the attack of the predator. Baitfish can swim side to side and even down deep, but the surface is pretty much the ceiling and bass are very adept at using this “ceiling’ to their advantage.
Fishing for these surface hunters can be very productive and very exciting. They can sometimes be easy to find as, unlike their underwater feeding frenzies, their topwater feeds are often visible to the angler’s eyes. Also, birds can sometimes tip off observant anglers to the whereabouts of bait and the bass that are hunting them.
Once the bait and bass are located, few if any methods deliver a more exhilarating way to catch them. A bass exploding on a topwater with reckless abandon is the gateway drug that has caused the addiction of many bass anglers. There just aren’t many things that rival the fun and excitement of a good topwater strike, or better yet a great day of topwater fishing.
The next part of the puzzle that so often faces anglers is how to choose the right topwater lure. The possibilities are nearly endless. There are poppers, chuggers, and wake baits, walking baits, glide baits, hollow-body “frog type” baits, soft plastic “toad type” baits, twitch baits, buzz baits, and so on. I think because topwater fishing is so much fun, anglers and lure designers have tried hard to find as many ways to catch them on top as possible.
Now that we’ve established why and where we should fish topwaters as well as what all types of topwaters are available, lets narrow down which style is best for what scenario.
Walking Baits: KVD Sexy Dawg & KVD Sexy Dawg Jr.
These baits are often best applied in clearer water where there isn’t too much vegetation. The “walk the dog” action that they are known for can draw ferocious strikes. Fish will travel a long way and from deep to shallow in order to annihilate this style of bait. It is notably effective on smallmouth. This style of bait is VERY color specific. Braid is the preferred line of many, while heavy mono is never a bad option.
Popping, Chugging, Spitting Baits: KVD Splash, KVD Splash Jr & the Spit-n-King
This genre of baits is typically best suited for calmer water. Often worked by employing short twitches to achieve a popping sound accompanied by a spitting action, don’t overlook working this style bait in a “walk the dog” fashion. It can be fantastic around isolated cover and individual targets. There are times when a “popper” is DEADLY on big bass! Use monofilament for this style of bait.
Wake Baits: Wake Shad
The Wake Shad is a hybrid topwater/crankbait as it achieves its namesake action from a vertical lip that pushes water rather than dives through it. Wake baits are most productive in clear, calm water as the waking action is subtle and potentially unnoticeable in dirty or rough water. The blow ups on this bait are as intense as it gets! Another plus to the Wake Shad is its ability to come through certain types of vegetation such as sparse Hydrilla. This is a fantastic fall bait! Braid is the deal around grass, whereas heavy mono is preferred in open water.
Hollow Body “Frog” type Baits: KVD Popping Perch & KVD Sexy Frog
Although this type of bait is often associated with a frog, the all-new Popping Perch proves that other profiles can be as, or more, productive than the old standard. The Popping Perch offers a unique profile that is just as at home in open water as in the gnarliest cover or grass you can find. Walking it is effortless and productive, but that’s not really where it shines. The best application for the Popping Perch is best described as “Power Topwater Fishing. Working this bait fast and erratic generates insane action and sounds that equate into monster blow ups! The KVD Sexy Frog is a super bait for grass, pads, brush and the likes. It features the classic and proven frog profile that big bass are often suckers for. These should be thrown on braided line.
Buzzbaits: Double take, Swinging Sugar Buzz, Tour Grade Buzzbait, Mini Pro-Buzz
The buzzbait is a design that has been around about as long as bass fishing has. There are several adaptations of this style of bladed wire bait. It is ridiculously effective around vegetation and shallow cover. It is a proven big bass magnet. Different buzzbaits feature different profiles and sounds and some days one seems better than another. Never hesitate to bang a buzzbait against the cover you are fishing. The addition of a Tour Grade Trailer Hook can aid in minimizing short strikes. This loud and aggressive technique can aggravate a big bass into biting in stained as well clear water, although shallow is generally better than deep. The choppier, dirtier, or the deeper the water, the more aggressive the commotion should be. The calmer, clearer and shallower, go with a quieter, less-disruptive version. In dirty water or nasty cover, throw on braid, otherwise, use heavy mono.
Soft Plastic “Toads”: Rage Toad, Rage Shad, Super Toad
This style of bait has been prominent for about 15 years now. It can be employed in just about all the same places and ways that you would a buzzbait. It is most commonly rigged “Texas” style with a wide gap, or screw-in hook. It excels around, through and in vegetation. It is fast becoming a staple on the back of a buzzbait on the tournament scene. Shallower, colored water seems to be best for this style of bait. Braided line aids in solid hookups and fighting fish out of grass.
The wonderful thing about fishing, is that there really isn’t a way to do it wrong. If you can manage to land a lure in the water, then you’re in the game. This was meant to be a reference on how, when and where to choose the right Strike King topwater lure. It is by no means a concrete guide. As solid as this guide is, I could give exceptions to almost every scenario mentioned. The bottom line is that topwater fishing is fun and exciting. Each strike is memorable. Get your topwater rod out and go make some memories!