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Topwater plugging..

936 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Keith White
I have found this site - and i think there is some great information on here, some of which i have copied below...

Scratching the Surface - Topwater Lure Basics

Jonathan Dukes is a recent convert to top-water lure fishing. Based on his own beginner's experience, he provides some advice for anglers approaching this technique for the first time.

I admit it, I'm addicted to catching bass on surface lures. Whether you're using the widely-available poppers, or perhaps less familiar stick-baits, it's very difficult to beat the heart-stopping thrill of catching big bass on the surface. Nothing will bring you more in-touch with your quarry. Many anglers are sceptical of surface lures and don't persevere with them. Those who do persevere and start to make the technique work for them quickly realise that there's no going back!

Why fish surface lures?

Witnessing the sudden, heart-stopping explosion when a fish attacks a lure on the water's surface is an angling experience that's difficult to match. Apart from this selfish motivation for fishing surface lures, there are also sound, tactical reasons for using this approach.

Anglers that have used surface lures will regularly talk of "missing" fish, where they have observed a bass attack the lure but have failed to hook it. I have always assumed that the same near misses occur with sub-surface lures. Since we usually cannot see a sub-surface lure for most of the retrieve, the angler remains oblivious and cannot take remedial action. In contrast, when fishing surface lures, when you see a fish miss a lure you can modify your retrieve, usually by pausing and perhaps gently twicthing the lure, to entice a second attack. Perhaps as many as half of my surface-caught fish have been hooked after the second or even third attack.

Another motivation for fishing surface lures is the ability to fish in locations that would otherwise be inaccessible, particularly very shallow water or locations with weed or other obstructions close to the surface. Bass will often venture into less than six inches of water and the only practical way of catching them is by fishing on the surface. Furthermore, even in deeper water, fishing on the surface makes it possible to fish when there is an abundance of loose weed that would make sub-surface fishing impractical.

Finally, fishing surface lures simply gives the angler another bait presentation option when trying to entice a bass into a take.

Lures and techniques

Top-water lures are often classified as being either poppers, which are usually fished to create splashing or spitting effects on the surface of the water, and stick-baits or pencils, which are usually fished with a "walk-the-dog" action to create a side-to-side sliding motion. In reality, this classification is often blurred and not very helpful when selecting lures. For example, the Smith ZipSea Pop lure can be fished to either make big bulging splashes, or twitched with a walk-the-dog action to create a delicate wake. Similarly, a classic stick-bait like the Heddon Super Spook is usually fished walk-the-dog to create wide, rolling curves but can be jerked to create splashes, not unlike a popper.

So, what are the characteristics of top-water lures that you should take into account when choosing a lure:-

Action - Every topwater lure will have it's own unique action in the water. Some stick-baits make wide, sweeping curves when twitched slowly, others make tight, jerky movements. Some poppers spit jets of water when jerked, other create more subtle "boils" in the water. Experimentation with different actions on the day is key. Don't be afraid to use the seemingly more subtle slow stick baits in choppy conditions. You might have difficulty seeing them in the chop but a bass won't have this problem!

Versatility - Many surface lures are versatile and can be fished in a number of different ways to create different actions. Surface poppers, for example, can be fished with fast jerks to create splashes or more slowly with gentle twitches to create a more subtle stick-like swimming action. Some lures can also be made to swim just below the surface. Using a versatile lure will allow you to vary the action of the lure and more quickly determine what is attracting fish on the day.
Sound - On a calm day you can hear the rattle of the Heddon Super Spook during the entire retrieve. In contrast, the Smith ZipSea Pop has a very quiet, subtle rattle. Choosing a noisy lure might make the difference when under-water visibility is poor.

Colour - This characteristic applies to any lure. Experimentation on the day is key here. In my limited experience, I have found that transparent or white surface lures work well when the water is calm and clear while darker colours, tending towards olive, blue or purple, work better when the water is choppy and/or coloured.

Weight and aerodynamics - Again, these characteristics apply to any lure and will determine how easily the lure casts. You should choose a lure with a weight that is appropriate for the casting weight of your rod, the distance that you need to cast and the prevailing wind conditions. Beyond that, the aerodynamics of some lures cause them to cast like darts while others can tend to flop around. For example, while the Heddon Super Spook is a good lure for enticing fish, it can tend to drift and die during the cast making it difficult to achieve distance with any accuracy. In contrast, the Yo-Zuri Mag Popper, with its magnetic sliding weight system that transfers weight to the back of the lure during the cast and to the middle during the retrieve, casts accurately and very far.

If you use a simple, straight-forward retrieve with a stick-bait, the lure will usually just glide over the surface of the water. To make the lure appear more life-like, the angler needs to impart action into the lure. The same is true of lures with a popper-like action, but to a lesser degree.

The technique used to impart action into surface lures is known as "walking the dog". The effect is achieved by holding the rod at (or near) a right-angle to the direction of the line and gently twitching the rod tip. This causes the line to continuously tighten and slacken which, in turn, causes the head of the lure to pull from side to side. Finding the right combination of rhythm and speed of retrieve takes some practice and will vary from one lure to another. More versatile lures work with a range of rhythms, resulting in different actions. It's worth experimenting with different actions, perhaps varing the action and speed every few seconds, pausing the retrieve frequently and introducing sudden jerks to make big splashes.

Keeping your eye on the lure during the retrieve is essential when fishing topwater lures. This will allow you to spot bass that attack the lure but do not make positive contact. In some cases the fish will be obvious, as the water explodes and the fish comes out of the water near your lure. In other cases the attack will be more subtle, perhaps a gentle, rolling bulge in the surface of the water. When you see this, stop retrieving immediately and after a pause of a second or two, twitch the lure, slowly building back towards your original retrieve but with frequent pauses. Often a bass will attack three or four times in quick succession before finally making contact with a hook. Sometimes they will follow the lure for some distance before attacking again. It's this ability to see and react to fish that makes surface lure fishing so attractive.


If you're already fishing with sub-surface lures, your existing rod and reel will probably enable you to also fish surface lures. However, faster, tippier rods that won't bend through the blank while using the "walk-the-dog" twitching technique will make it easier to impart action into lures.

The constant motion required to work the lure can also be tiring, so a lighter rod and reel is beneficial. Rods with a shorter handle below the reel make twitching the lure less awkward and more comfortable.

Although you will probably be able to use your existing lure fishing rod and reel, you will find it difficult to impart an action into a lure if you're using monofilament. The aim when using the "walk-the-dog" technique is to repeatedly tighten and slacken the line between rod tip and lure. Monofilament lines that stretch a lot will make this effect very difficult to achieve. Investing in a good quality braided line that doesn't stretch and puts you in closer contact with the lure will make your surface lure fishing easier and more enjoyable.
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That's just about spot on a very good find Marc

i used to struggle no end with my old ugly stick's and mono with the top water lures so much so that i all but gave up with them and went to the soft plastics instead as i found them easier to work with a soft rod [the Whacker&Boner took some getting used too i can tell you, could i cast it could i hell, i still put lures right in close to the rod tip now and again even now as you have seen me do on occasions]

does that make sence dai
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