Fishing with topwater plugs is something that bass fisherman can use all season long, but using them in the fall is key, because across the nation bass are feeding up for the winter ahead. Up north, these bass will have ice over their heads and need to fatten up, down south the shad move into the creeks and bass fill on these easy to eat meals.
Some days you may not catch as many bass on a topwater plug, but you are giving yourself a good chance to catch a big fall bass by tossing a topwater.
I’ll begin any fall fishing trip with my favorite topwater plug, a walk-the-dog style bait, such as the Zara Spook. I begin with this plug as while still a topwater, you can speed up, or slow down your retrieve based on the activity level and feeding patterns of the bass that you are pursuing. The mesmerizing side-to-side action drives bass wild and generates some big strikes. The original walk-the-dog plug is the Heddon Zara Spook and I feel that it is still the optimal plug in this category and depending on the size of bait the bass are feeding on, the size profile they want the plug is offered in several different sizes and styles.
Chuggers or poppers are commonly used anytime that the bass are actively feeding on baitfish on top of the water. Chug, Chug, Chug….SPLASH! That is the noise of a topwater popper in action and this is one of my favorite ways to target when they are putting the feed bag on. A Storm Chug Bug, Rapala X –Rap Pop or Rebel Pop-R are some of my favorites. What is nice about fishing this style of plug is you can make short casts with it around boat docks or laydowns, work the plug and then stop it right by the end of the laydown or boat dock, this is when the dressed treble hook on the rear of the bait entices the bass to come up and strike it.
When there is a slight chop on the water and you want to position a topwater plug over the bass’s head, it is hard to beat a prop bait, such as the Whopper Plopper. This plug allows you to make long casts and despite the chop on the water, the bait still puts out an action that calls bass in.
Anytime I’m fishing topwater plugs, I’ll rely on the following gear:
Rod – Witch Doctor Tackle Shaman Rod: This rod is 6’10” in length, allowing me to make long casts, yet short enough so I can make downward snaps with the rod to impart action into my plugs. The medium fast action gives the rod enough backbone to handle the fish, but it has enough give to keep those bass hooked.
Reel – Wright & McGill Victory II Baitcast Reel (7.0:1 gear ratio): I go with a high-speed reel as I want to be able to pull in any slack I have out as quickly as possible. Also if the bass start busting the surface after your lure has passed them, you need to be able to get your lure in and back out as quick as possible.
Line – Seaguar Rippin’ Mono 15 lb test: Some anglers use braided line when fishing topwaters, I prefer mono as it floats so it aids in the action of your plugs, it also has some stretch to it, so when a bass runs the combo of the rod and line will keep that bass hooked and the hooks won’t pull out.
Hooks – Eagle Claw Lazer TroKar EWG Treble Hooks: I swap out all of the hooks that come on my topwater plugs to these as I feel they have a great hook up percentage, especially when bass are just slapping at your plug.
Each topwater plug on the market has a different size profile and sound profile, so play around with numerous baits and know exactly what each sounds like and their action in the water as sometimes the bass will want a specific splashing sound and spray pattern.