Topwater Fishing for Bass
If you’ve ever fished with topwater lures, you’ll know why they’re so popular among bass anglers. It’s because they’re a ton of fun to use.
Throwing a frog, buzzbait, popper, or any other surface bait and watching a fish blow up out of the water to smash it gives you the biggest adrenaline rush you’ll ever have while bass fishing. Even the smallest 1 pound bass can make you feel like you just landed the 10 pound monster you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Choosing a Topwater Bass Lure
Lure manufacturers are coming out with new topwater lures left and right, and many anglers become overwhelmed by the number of options available.
How should you know just by looking at the packaging which ones will and will not catch fish? Well, in this post, we discuss the best topwater lures that we can confidently say will destroy bass.
Not only will we be giving you our top list, but we’ll be filling you in on everything the professional anglers already know about these baits and how to use them to catch those trophy-sized fish you’ve been hunting for.
Zoom Horny Toad
The Zoom Horny Toad or other solid rubber frogs are a great choice for topwater lures that work best in heavier cover with floating vegetation.
This bait servers the same function as a buzzbait, but you’ll be able to fish it faster, cover more water, and it has a weedless design. You’ll be able to fish much closer to thick grasses and pads that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach with a buzzbait.
Rigging a Zoom Toad
While it’s not as important for other soft plastics, you want to make sure that your frog won’t roll over or swim crooked when retrieving it. This frog will only look realistic to the fish if it’s lying flat on the surface of the water.
Hook, Rod & Line Selection
The best way to do this is to use a 4 or 5 ott hook with a centering pin, which allows you to screw your toad and keep it level with the water. The specific rod setup isn’t too important with this bait, but if you want a suggestion for a starting point, go with a 7′ 9″ medium/heavy action swimbait/topwater rod.
What’s more important is pairing this bait with a heavier line, anything up to 65lb braid. You’ll often be flipping in weeds, and you’d be surprised about how much strength it takes to pull a fish caught in a grass clump out of the water quickly.
Horny Toad Impulse Strikes
When retrieving this bait, make sure you’re keeping your rod tip up high, and you’re reeling at a pace that keeps the frog’s legs kicking on the surface of the water. You can alternate between fishing this bait faster and slower, but you always want to be giving it a steady retrieve.
The faster you move this bait, the less time you give the bass to inspect it, and the more impulse strikes you’ll get. If you need to really slow down your presentation, you’ll want to abandon this bait and throw on a hollow body frog instead.
Zoom Buzzbait Trailer Method
Another option is to actually use the Zoom Horny Toad as a trailer on a buzzbait. The toad gives a buzzbait a much larger profile and is a great alternative to the classic crawfish style trailer. This is commonly used for skipping under docks or targeting low overhanging branches. All you need to do is take the skirt off your buzzbait and thread the Zoom Horny Toad up to the top of your hook.
Live Target Hollow Body Frog
The Live Target Hollow Body Frog is ideal for fishing around shaded areas with matted vegetation. Whether you’re fishing in warmer conditions or later in the day when the sun moves higher in the sky, the fish will always be looking for shadowed areas and move to matted vegetation.
One common mistake anglers will make when fishing matted weeds is forgetting to consider water depth. Make sure that the mats are suspended in a few feet of water or enough space for big largemouth or smallmouth bass to be able to escape the sun later in the day.
Walking The Hollow Body Frog
A common approach is to use the walk-the-dog retrieve style with this bait. To do this, make quick, short strikes down with your rod tip and keep the frog moving in a straight line back towards you. The harder you twitch your rod, the more this bait will walk, so alter your approach based on how aggressive the fish are.
Targeting Matted Vegetation
Cast the frog onto matted vegetation or weeds you find, and let your lure sit still for a brief moment. Then, give it one confident twitch and let it sit still again. Your cast will often get the bass’s interest, but they won’t commit to eating it right away.
The second twitch you give will frequently trigger the bass to break through the weeds and attack your frog. If not, pull the frog gently off the matted grass, let it stand still for a second or two, and start your walk retrieve all the way back to the boat/shore.
Setting The Hook
If a fish blows up on your topwater lure, it can be the most exciting strike you’ll ever have. You’ll feel the urge to set the hook immediately, but try your very best to have patience.
A mistake that anglers of all skill levels will make is getting excited and setting the hook too soon. Try to wait for 1 second before pulling, and you’ll have a much better hook up ratio.
Our favorite walking bait is the River2Sea Rover. This lure has feathered treble hooks on it and walks really well. It’s got a lot of action, and most importantly, it’s super loud. We recommend combining this bait with different setups depending on the size.
Deep Water “Walking”
For the Large Size Rover, use a medium/heavy swimbait topwater rod with a 40-50lb braid. For the Small Size Rover, a 30lb braid will be heavy enough, and you won’t need anything heavier than a medium action rod.
When you decide to move out into deeper waters later in the day, the best topwater lure to use is a big walking bait or something similar with a large profile. In deeper waters, around 8 to 12 feet deep, the fish need more incentive to come all the way up from the bottom and bite your lure. Larger bait will also create more popping sounds to catch the attention of the bass.
Deep Water Fishing Techniques
If you have a fish finder, all you need to do is look for water that’s 8 to 12 feet deep and find cover or baitfish. If not, the best things to keep an eye out for if you’re fishing from a boat are points that extend out into the lake. A stronger current will be created in these areas, and fish will cluster on them, looking for squeezed baitfish.
You want to cast up onto the point in the shallowest spot and move the bait with your rod tip only. If you move the bait with the reel, you won’t have any precision in its movement, and you’ll lose control over your walker.
The River2Sea Rover works great later in the summer months when the fish move deeper and when there’s enough cloud cover in the sky. The cloud cover will make the fish more aggressive and prone to striking topwater presentations.
Live Target Sunfish
Do you ever hear those faint popping noises on the edge of a lake around matted grass and other vegetation? This is actually the sound of bluegill or sunfish feeding on the mats and other insects back in the shade.
If you hear this sound, the best thing to use is the newly released Live Target Sunfish that’s been getting a ton of attention recently. This bait comes equipped with custom tracer hooks and is the most realistic and natural-looking panfish bait on the market.
Live Target Sunfish Technique
Your best bet is to throw this bait back into shady regions where the panfish you’re hearing or seeing are congregating. This bait is a unique sunfish and bluegill lure because it is totally weedless and even has a hollow body frog’s walk-the-dog action. You want to work it the same way as a frog but slow your tempo down slightly.
It also works well in open water with the “casting into points” method we discussed earlier. The Live Target Sunfish has a super erratic side-to-side action that makes it look almost identical to a struggling baitfish. If it’s mid to late summer and you’re targeting big bass feeding on panfish in the shade, you can’t beat this topwater lure.
Megastrike Cavitron Buzzbait
When you’re by a lake, the first things you should look for are minnows and small sunfish along the shoreline. If you find baitfish, you can start by throwing a Megastrike Cavitron Buzzbait.
Many anglers will use a baitcasting rod, but we recommend using a spinning rod and reel because you’ll be able to cast further, cover more water, and they have added sensitivity. If you’re looking for advice on a beginner setup, we recommend using a heavy action 7′ spinning rod with 15 to 20lb braid for fishing buzzbaits.
Where & How To Fish Buzzbaits
Stay close to the shoreline and scan the edge of your lake or reservoir for submerged vegetation in 3 to 4 feet of water. You want to identify your target spot first and then cast your lure far enough away as not to spook the fish.
When it comes to fishing buzzbaits, your objective should be to retrieve it as slow as possible without letting your bait sink down under the surface.
Buzzbait Sound Effect
As their name suggests, buzzbaits are big noisy lures that rely on their vibration to get the fish’s attention. When looking for the right buzzbaits, find something that makes a lot of noise or “squeaking” sounds as it moves through the water.
Also, look to see if your buzzbait has a “clacker” on it. A clacker is a small piece of metal that bangs against the spinner to create additional noise. If you’re fishing in clear water, it’s best to remove this piece from your bait so you don’t spook the bass.
Overall, you’ll see that topwater lures can be extremely versatile if you know what you’re doing. If you have a collection of these 5 topwater lures, you’ll be able to destroy fish in any part of the lake or reservoir you’re fishing.
While topwater lures are unique between them and each involves lots of practice, once you master them, you’ll feel like you never want to go back to submerged baits again.
Topwater lures are best used in combination with other lures. You never want to set out on the water with only top waters because sometimes the fish just won’t hit them. There are plenty of days where you’ll only catch fish on Rubber Worms like Senkos and deep-diving crankbaits.
If the fish are feasting on frogs or schools of shad higher in the water column, you stand a good chance of catching the biggest bass of your life on a topwater lure. Now, how cool would that be?