By Rick Lawrence
Here is my top ten list of the best topwater lures of all time. Some are old standards, some have only been popular a few years, and some you may have never heard of before, until now. The list will go from what I think is good, up to what I consider the best top water lure of all time.
When a Jitterbug is retrieved correctly it will wobble from side to side. It is a pretty simple lure to use. You can vary your retrieve speed to try mixing things up, but the best retrieve to use when fishing Jitterbugs is the stop and go technique. Cast your Jitterbug and let it sit for a few seconds. Then, begin your retrieve. Retrieve it for a few seconds, and stop. You can stop for a few seconds or upwards of ten seconds before retrieving again. Oftentimes when fishing Bass or Northern Pike, they will wait for it to stop before striking. This is what makes the stop and go technique so effective.
Another useful tip when fishing Jitterbugs and most other topwater lures is not to set your hook immediately when you feel a strike. If you set your hook too soon you will miss a majority of the fish. Wait for the fish to take the bait underwater and turn with it after the strike, then set your hook.
Best place to fish it is, Calm nights, Shallow water, 1-5 feet deep, bass cruise the shallows at night and jitter bugs are deadly. Solid black it the ticket for fishing these at night.
9. Floating Rapala
The best part of this bait it is so easy but yet effective. This bait can just about do it all. It can be twitched, popped, or spit. Twitching it is usually the most effective topwater presentation. It is a very subtle topwater when twitched. Twitch your rod softly with your rod tip pointing up. The bait will dive under the water slightly. It barely makes any noise, using it on flat water is a must when twitching since otherwise fish will have a hard time seeing it. If the fish won't respond to twitching, try a more aggressive presentation. Twitching the rod fast and repeatedly will make the bait pop and spit. Point the rod tip up and twitch it over and over. It takes a while to get the rhythm but it is incredible how big of a bubble the bait will make or how high the water will spit. Sometimes the bass will just nip at the Rapala and not take it. When they do this twitch it under water and give it a few reels.
I fish it around about all kinds of cover, ranging from weeds to rock. The first thing is, you don't fish it in the cover, but around it. Fish it anywhere you would fish topwater bait. It is basically a finesse topwater. You can expect more bass, sometimes not as big but definitely more. I fish this bait when water temps climb higher than 60 degrees in the spring and down to about 60 degrees in the fall. I throw them in low light conditions like early mornings or on a warm rainy dark day.
8. The Buzzbait
When fishing the buzzbait, start with your rod tip high and start reeling as soon as it hits the water. This will keep the buzzbait on the top of the water, and then slowly lower your rod tip as the bait gets closer. Most of the time a slow steady retrieve works best, but sometimes popping the rod tip to make the bait spit a lot of water will work good as well.
A buzzbait will work just about anywhere, over sunken weeds or cover, over shallow flats, and perfect for going parallel with the bank. I like to throw them in the evening until well after dark.
7. Shimano Triple Impact wake bait.
This is one of the lures I will be talking about that you probably have never heard of before. This is a loud clacking wake bait with a prop tail, which has a huge side to side wagging action. With this bait all you need to do is throw it near cover and do a slow steady retrieve. The bait will call fish from quite far away to come hammer it.
I like to fish these in fairly open water as they will come find the bait. Fishing it over a deep rock piles for smallies in low light conditions works great, as does casting it to shallow water along an overhanging grass bank.
6. Zara Super Spook Jr.
The key to fishing this lure is patience. If you have never used a top water lure before, or caught a fish on a top water lure, you are missing out on some incredible heart-pounding action. Many anglers, both experienced and beginners tend to set the hook right when they see a splash from a fish attacking the lure, but you have to wait just a second to get a good hook up. Before you can set the hook, you need to know how to fish this lure. A medium-heavy action baitcasting rod and reel work best with this style lure, but I have use spinning reels before. A stiff rod is best to help you get a good “pop” in the line, so I would definitely stay at or above a medium-heavy action rod. As for line, I like to use 30-50 lb. braid on a baitcasting, and 20 lb. braid on a spinning combo. Of course, with most top water lures you want use monofilament line instead of braid, as mono actually floats. However, I have used braided line with quite a bit of success…more like a lot of success. The reason I use braid is because it doesn’t have any stretch so you get a better action from the lure. The hard part is getting the cadence right to get the bait to walk. That distinctive zigzag walk-the-dog like action is created by keeping your rod tip low and popping the bait on a slack line. It takes a little practice to get this down but once you do you will be rewarded with some incredible heart pounding action.
For Smallmouth I like to fish it over rocky flats or river current lines. For Largemouth submerged weedbeds and weed lines are a great choice.
5. Spro Rat
Summer is prime time to catch topwater fish. If you like to throw walking baits, poppers, wakebaits, or whopper ploppers with success, then its time to try a rat. Big rat baits catch BIG fish! If you've ever wanted to know when to use them, and how to catch more "rat" fish, here is the simple way to fish the new SPRO BBZ-1 Rat 40. Do not over think this bait. Fish it with a nice a steady retrieve and only good things will happen.
Fish these over grass flats, in pockets between toolies, over a hump, over a point or parallel to the bank. Just let it sit for a second then bring it in nice a steady and hang on.
4. HeadBanger Spitfire 4.5
This is a fairly new bait on the market that will become a classic I’m sure. It is kind of a cross between a Jitterbug and a floating jointed Rapala and it is another bait that works well with a stop and go retrieve. The Headbanger Spitfire is a unique topwater bait that can really trigger a feeding frenzy from nearby bass. The jointed body has a realistic baitfish profile, and the lure swims with a natural action that fish can't ignore. A free-swinging transparent lip adds to the Spitfire's enticing side-to-side movement, plus it helps creates a wild commotion on the surface. The non-repetitive movement is created by the loosely attached guide lip. Because of the lips different shape and specific balance, it constantly changes the lures direction. The result is a lure that moves with irregularities naturally resembling that of a real living prey. This is the perfect bait to throw near cover or over vegetation.
3. Zoom Horney toad
The Horney toad is a great search bait, just cast it out a reel it fairly fast over and threw cover. I love to throw this bait into some of the heaviest cover I can find so I fish these on heavy braid with a frog rod. Rigged on a heavy EWG hook with a little bend in the bait so the belly sticks out makes the bait stay upright and the legs kick like crazy. One thing I really like about this bait is if you do miss a fish topwater you can kill the bait and let it sink and 90% of the time they will come back and eat it. The only thing I don’t like about this lure is perch and sunfish love to bite the legs off it.
2. Rebel Pop R
The pop R is one of my favorite Smallmouth baits of all time just. I use a med/hvy spinning rod with 30 lb. braid. I let it drift with the current around any cover in a river and make a loud pop every 5 to 15 seconds. Throw it near lay down trees and standing timber for L.M. Typically it is a smaller than walkers, poppers can also play the short game with brief, targeted casts to structure. A concave face pushes water and air on every twitch for a bold display that pulls deep fish topside.
How to Fish It, Use a sharp, downward rod motion on a slack line to grab air and create maximum pop without too much forward movement. Contrary to walkers, a fluoro leader can help here by pulling the popper down for a deeper blooping sound.
1. Whopper Plopper
The original chopper bait was designed for targeting Muskie’s, however thanks to its success on other predatory fish several new sizes have been released to meet the needs of bass anglers that want to target Smallmouth and Largemouth. Now the brand new 110 size is the missing puzzle piece for those situations where the 90 is too small but the 130 is too big. Deadly for an array of predatory fish the 110 provides the ultimate complementing size to the 90 perfect for that one, two punch when out on the water. They have also come out with a short fat version the 75 as well. The Whopper Plopper family has become a new stable in the arsenals of many anglers worldwide. The Whopper Plopper provides tremendous top water disruption that draws bone crushing strikes from below. Throwing off a similar sputtering action as a buzzbait with the ability to be fished slower or on a stop and go retrieve the Whopper Plopper allows an angler to stay in the strike zone for a longer period of time. Crawl it super slow so the tail barely makes a bubble trail or burn it back to the boat and watch the ripple of chasing bass right before the strike. The Whopper Plopper casts with easy and stays upright through the retrieve at any speed and the unique sound the bait makes it a bait that you can’t mistake for anything else. Plus the newly designed weed resistance convex tail reduces debris from building up thereby keeping the bait kicking the whole way back. Whether targeting Bass, Muskie, or Pike the Whopper Plopper is a win, win.