Skip to content
Karl's Fishing & Outdoors Logo
Topwater Fishing Breakdown: How To Fish Each Style

Topwater Fishing Breakdown: How To Fish Each Style

Is there anything in fishing more fun than seeing a fish explode on a topwater bait? We didn’t think so. The best thing about topwater fishing is that not only is it an extremely fun way to catch bass, it’s also one of the best ways to catch giant bass.In that spirit – we thought it would be a great idea to run down the most popular topwater baits, and discuss the ideal locations, rod setups, and techniques for maximizing the effectiveness of each.

Popper Topwater Fishing

Where: Poppers are the ultimate topwater for target fishing. They’re easy to cast, and generate explosive strikes from bass relating to shoreline cover. Make accurate casts to any shoreline cover like docks, laydowns, stumps, grass patches - and hold on.Rod/Reel/Line: 6 ½ to 7 foot medium power, fast action casting setup, a high speed 7.1:1 reel, and 12-15 pound monofilament. Beware using fluorocarbon with a popper, it sinks and will hurt the action.How: Make an accurate cast to the cover, let the bait settle, and work it back with a series of pops and pauses. Experiment with different cadences, and mix in pauses until you start getting bit. To maximize efficiency, only work the bait about 5 feet from the target, then burn it in and cast again. Most strikes come within 2-4 feet of the cover.

Walk-The-Dog Stick Baits

Where: Topwater walking baits are the number one topwater for catching topwater bass in open water, or anytime they are feeding heavily on shad. Work your bait over points, along rip rap, on main river grass lines, and anywhere else bass are ambushing baitfish.Rod/Reel/Line: Use a longer 7 or 7 ½ foot medium heavy power rod, and a fast 7.1:1 reel spooled with 15 pound monofilament or 30 pound braided line for this topwater fishing technique.How: Make long casts past the structure you’re fishing, and get the bait walking by twitching your rod tip while reeling up the slack. It takes some time, but once you get it you’ll be getting strikes in no time. Don’t be afraid to mix in an occasional pause, particularly if you have a fish swirl on it.

Buzz Baits

Where:Buzz baits are extremely effective anytime bass are shallow and feeding. Work a buzzbait along docks, shallow grass, and even loose pads, as they are actually quite weedless.Rod/Reel/Line: The ideal buzzbait rod starts with a 7 foot medium heavy baitcaster, and a 6.4:1 reel spooled with 30 pound braided line.How: Make accurate casts to the piece of structure you’re trying to fish, and reel the bait past the cover slow enough to create a good bubble trail, but fast enough to keep it on the surface. Add a trailer hook if you’re getting short strikes.

Hollow Bodied Frogs

Where:Hollow-bodied frogs are the number one topwater bait any time bass are holding in matted vegetation or around thick grass. Look for these topwater fishing areas, as well as thick bank grass, and even underneath docks and laydowns, as their weedless nature allows them to come through clean.Rod/Reel/Line: Use a long (7 ½ or longer) heavy or extra heavy flipping stick, a high speed (7.1:1) reel, and heavy 50 to 65 pound braided line.How: Cast the frog out and slowly twitch it along the matted grass. If you come to a hole or open spot, pause and walk or twitch it in place. When you get a blowup, make sure the bait is completely submerged – and then reel down and set the hook hard.

Updated August 19th, 2020 at 5:27 AM CT