Hollow-body frogs, soft-plastic frogs, spooks, jitterbugs, torpedoes, buzzbaits, poppers; these are a few lures that brings in the thrill and exhilaration of topwater fishing. Many are oblivious to this fishing technique and question its legitimacy. From my many years of ongoing addiction to topwater fishing, it has definitely become a pattern of interest. Once the water temperature hits 60 degrees, the swimbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and crankbaits are stored indefinitely and out emerges the topwater lures. Traditional fishing underwater does not beat witnessing the smack down a bass (or pike) unleashes onto the lure, and actually seeing the action! Of course, I love catching fish, but I also love the adrenaline of a topwater hit.
Where should I cast a topwater lure?
I mainly cast a topwater lure near shorelines, where water depth is below 5′ to ensure the fish will see the lure, hear the noise, and/or feel the vibration (although I have uncommonly caught suspending bass and pikes in 10+ feet of water). Great areas to use topwater lures include grass mats, lilypads, under trees, above shallow rocks, and alongside docks. Of course, different habitat will require different types of topwater lures; for example, I use frogs, or weedless topwater lures, on grass mats and lilypads, while I use wakebaits or treble-hooked topwater lures in shallow, open water, such as rivers or rocky shorelines. What I usually do is cast as close to the shoreline as possible; since frogs are weedless, I’d toss them right onto dry land and drag them into the water, acting as a real frog. Casting as close to the shoreline as possible and reeling it towards you mimics the realism of a prey falling from a nearby tree into the water, or an injured prey panicking for survival. Bass (as well as pikes) are opportunist predators and will munch on anything that moves and fits in their mouth. If, by chance, your lure gets hung up by a tree while casting at the shoreline, then you could jig the topwater lure slightly, surfacing the water regularly to create a wake, which will interest the predatory fish and increase its curiosity. Topwater lure allows you to reach into tight spaces that a suspending lure would not be able to do as it would get stuck on rocks or logs. It is suitable in almost all waterways: lakes, rivers, ponds, sloughs, and creaks.
What about rods? Reels? Lines?
When it comes to the rod, I’m pretty flexible with my options. All my rods are 7′ and are usually medium fast, which can feel about anything the lure touches and retracts to the pole. When it comes to the reel’s gear ratio, I usually go with a 6:1 or 7:1 retrieval speed to really eliminate the slack on a lure. When topwater fishing, I’m always engaged with the reel, either twitching, slowly retrieving, or walking the lure. The high gear ratio ensures that, when I set the hook, I’m actually hooking the fish and not setting the hook on the slack. My lines are usually about 40+ lb braid. Braid line floats and topwater lures float, which makes sense as one compliments the other. Also, with braided lines, it does not stretch, so pulling a fish from grass mats or lilypads is simpler and does not allow the fish to tangle itself and escape. The type of brand purchased for braid varies from angler to angler, all costing relatively the same (for the quality brands).
Perceptibly, these topwater techniques are from my experience when topwater kayak fishing and varies from one kayak angler to the next. I’ve been fortunate enough in the past few years to have met avid topwater anglers who’ve shared secrets with me and vice versa. Topwater fishing is literally all I do (unless I’m extremely desperate for a fish, then I’ll fish extremely slow with plastics in rare occasions). I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of topwater fishing; it’s a great way to produce video content and also satisfying when a topwater hit occurs.
Stay tuned for Topwater Kayak Fishing, Part II later this season! In the meantime, check out a few topwater footages here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzdaAcV103k.