Topwater Fishing Tips

Use these tips to catch more fish using topwater lures.

Topwater Tactics
Topwater Fishing TipsRon Ballanti

Topwater lures are effective at catching a ­variety of species, from largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike to striped bass, snook and redfish. Plus, watching a big fish explode on your lure is one of the most exciting experiences in fishing. There is more to it than first meets the eye, so we’re floating these tips to help turn you into a topwater tyrant.

Watch 'Em Work
Make a few test casts and experiment with different actions and retrieves. Every lure has its own sweet spot. For Zara Spooks and other walk-the-dog-style lures, practice a twitch, wind, twitch cadence until you get the lure zigzagging like a pro. For wakebaits, find the ideal speed where the lure's back just breaks the surface and throws the widest wake. A jerking motion with just the right amount of slack in the line can make a popper spray water with an audible bloop sound that calls fish in from below. A good loop knot maximizes the lure's action.

Don't Yank
Do not react to every swirl on your lure by rearing back on the rod. If you do, you'll miss a lot of the fish. Instead, wait till the rod loads up and then wind into the fish. React when you feel the bite, not when you see it. If you do miss a strike, keep working the lure all the way back to the boat. Oftentimes the fish doesn't want to let its "prey" escape and will give you another chance.

Stop and Start
Mix up the retrieve by changing your cadence or stopping to let the lure rest from time to time. Topwaters often get bit while sitting perfectly still, so don't be afraid to let it stay in one place for as long as 30 seconds. It's hard to master this level of patience, but it can pay off big time.