Three Tips for Topwater Tactics

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That topwater plug can be deadly - and exciting - if you fish it right.

Topwater Tactics

Few methods of fishing are as fun as topwater. Seeing a fish throw up a wake as it shoots towards your plug and watching the ensuing surface explosion is an adrenaline-pumping experience. But fishing topwater effectively is not the simplest form of fishing. It takes finesse, concentration, and know-how. The next time you decide to throw topwater, remember these three important tips:

angler with fish

That topwater plug can be deadly – and exciting – if you fish it right.

  1. The quieter and calmer the surroundings are, the more subtle a presentation you should choose. In a leeward shoreline where there’s barely a ripple on the water’s surface, walking the dog with a plug like a Badonk-A-Donk or a Spook is an excellent choice. But a noisy popper like a Hydro Pop or a Surface Blaster is more likely to scare the fish than to get them biting. Save those big chuggers and poppers for rougher times, when a lot of natural surface-disturbance and the resulting background noise makes it difficult for the fish to ID baits up top.
  2. Don’t pause on a missed strike. You have to expect attacking fish to miss a surface lure half the time they take a swipe, but usually you can get a follow-up hit and quite often multiple follow-ups. If, that is, you keep that plug moving. Stop working it, and quite often the fish will lose interest. Note: we’ll stipulate that many anglers disagree on this point, and believe a post-strike pause leads to additional hook-ups. We’d challenge anyone with this view to experiment a bit both ways, and keep track of the follow-up hits. Keep that lure moving, and you’ll see a 30- to 50-percent higher rate of return.
  3. Don’t set the hook the instant the fish strikes. We know this is tough – really tough – but if you can delay the hook-set by just a fraction of a second, you’ll get more solid hook-ups than you will with the instant set. You’ll also find that most of the time the lure won’t come cart-wheeling back at you through the air when you miss, which gives you the opportunity to look for that follow-up strike again.

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