THE ABC’S OF FISHING BIG TOPWATER LURES
article by Kenny Covington
I don’t know of a single bass fisherman that doesn’t love the sight and sound of a topwater strike. To me, it is the best way to catch a bass with a spinnerbait being a close second. The anticipation of a good size bass busting a topwater offering just after dawn is the kind of scene Norman Rockwell would have easily made a painting of. For whatever the reason, anglers don’t use topwater lures like they once did, especially the larger ones.
For this article, let me explain what I mean when I say “larger topwater’s,” which will also be the ones we discuss. The Whopper Plopper, a Zara Spook, the P-60 Pop R, a Buzz Toad and a Devil’s Horse are the lures I would put into this category. These topwater lures fall into three categories: a steady retrieve type of lure such as a Buzz Toad or a Whopper Plopper, a cadence-based lure such as a Spook, or a twitching type of lure such as a Devil’s Horse or the Pop R.
Before I get into the how and where aspect of this month’s article, I want to talk about the equipment I use for these lures. First, I use 50 lb. braided line and a 7-foot medium/heavy rod for every lure listed except for the Devil’s Horse and Pop R. When using those two lures, I always use 15-20 lb. monofilament line and I use a 7-foot medium action rod unless I need to make shorter more exact presentations, then I go as short as a 6’6 version.
The Buzz Toad and Whopper Plopper
The Buzz Toad is a lure that I will start throwing at the end of February and early March, depending on the weather patterns. The Whopper Plopper seems to gain steam more around the end of April into the month of May. I prefer the Whopper Plopper when the water has a chop to it and is a bit more stained. It is also my choice for low light or rainy days. I like using the Buzz Toad in cleaner water around vegetation or other grass scenarios. My favorite color in both lures is black regardless of time of year or where I am fishing, unless the water is extremely clear, then I go to more shad patterns. These lures will catch more size than numbers, so it helps to have that mindset while throwing them. Another thing to remember is most of the time the slower you can retrieve the lure, while keeping a consistent sound on top, the better they tend to hit it.
If you told me I could pick one topwater lure to catch a bass over five pounds, it would be a Spook, however, it can be a hard technique to learn. The “walk the dog” retrieve is critical and takes a bit of practice until you get comfortable with it, especially when throwing it on a longer 7-foot rod. One of the interesting things I have noticed about a Spook is that certain colors do well on certain lakes. When I fish Darbonne, I have had better luck using a bream or the Arkansas Shad patterned lure. On Claiborne, the bullfrog color is my standard go to. On clearer water lakes like Caney, I do well with the Shore Minnow color, one my uncle Lannie used to refer to it as “old ugly.”
Devil’s Horse and Pop R
When Glynn Blankenship and I fished together we had a rule when practicing for tournaments on the Ouachita River system and it was quite simple: throw a Devil’s Horse until you start getting bit. I put a shad-colored Pop R in the same sentence with the Devil’s Horse because while fishing with Glynn, I discovered fishing the Devil’s Horse would catch numbers of bass, it seemed we always caught a bigger fish on the bigger Pop R. It became a deadly 1-2 punch, mimicking both bream and shad.
The number one rule for fishing both lures is patience. The slower you can make yourself move these lures, the bigger the fish will be that strikes it. I am not saying you won’t catch small ones or even numbers of bass, I am just telling you that your bigger fish will come on the retrieves where you are moving the lure painfully slow.
Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time once again. The weather is beginning to move from the new adventures of spring to the early signs of summer. With more and more people out there enjoying our waterways, please be mindful of those around you. It’s not too early to think about applying sunscreen and staying hydrated, even though the summer temperatures haven’t gotten to us just yet but most of all enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature and make sure you catch one for me! See you next month!