Christopher Smith

Top Water Smallmouth Bass Fishing

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If you have never experienced the thrill of top water smallmouth bass fishing, then you haven’t lived. Just don’t take up this style of fishing if you are recovering from a heart attack or have high cholesterol, lol!

Top Water Smallmouth Bass Fishing

When it comes to heart-pounding excitement, nothing compares to topwater fishing for smallmouth bass. This opinion is shared by every red-blooded angler who’s had a surface bait torpedoed by a brown missile. In an explosion of white spray and bronze flash, the lure disappears before your eyes and a wild aerial show is likely to follow.

“Topwater fishing for smallmouths has always been a blend of folklore and fact,” explains Tennessee smallmouth guide Jim Duckworth. “Over the years, a lot of misinformation has been passed around. For example, many anglers have been led to believe surface baits are rarely effective outside early morning and late evening. In truth, opportunities to catch smallmouths on top arise throughout the day, from late spring into the late fall.”

“For smallmouths, I rely solely on walking-style baits,” says Balog. “I’m not saying other styles don’t catch fish, but that side-to-side action, fished with the right cadence, works for me. I don’t limit myself to traditional walkers like a Zara Spook, but also fish chugger-style walking baits. Storm’s Chug Bug has long been a favorite, and Rapala’s new X-Rap Pop has my attention.”

Evers: “My most successful topwater for smallmouth is Heddon’s One Knocker Spook. It’s bigger than the Super Spook Jr., and has a unique knocker in the body that creates a low-frequency sound like a drum beat rather than a rattle. When most anglers are using rattling topwaters, the One Knocker’s alternate sound often outperforms them.”

According to Duckworth, “Poppers generally produce smaller bronzebacks. Big ones generally bite better on walking baits, in my experience. I rely on them summer and fall. On the hottest summer days, I also fish a buzzbait. In spring, I go with a prop bait. Two of my favorite topwaters are ones I make—Duck’s Pup prop bait and Duck’s Dawg walking bait.”  Read more here

Some more tips on equipment and techniques for catching bronzebacks on top water baits

The equipment needed for top water fishing is a 6 1/2-foot or seven-foot medium/heavy rod. Most fishermen will use bait casting rods, while some prefer a spinning rod. The bait casting set-up allows the angler to use heavier line, which is needed when fishing many types of top water lures.

Fishing the Zara Spook For Smallmouth

Zara Spooks

One of the favorite lures, used by top water aficionados, is the cigar-style bait. Probably the best known of these baits is the Zara Spook. The spook has either two or three sets of treble hooks on it. The “spook,” as it is sometimes called by anglers, is made from a hard plastic. When this bait is retrieved in the proper fashion, it will zigzag across the surface of the water. This zigzag motion is commonly referred to as “walking the dog.”

The way you fish the spook is to cast it out and to let it sit for a few seconds. With the rod tip down, twitch your rod while reeling in the slack line at the same time. Adjust the cadence of your retrieve. Sometimes retrieve such as two or three twitches, then a pause, and then a few more twitches will work best. Sometimes the fish prefer a bait that is constantly moving across the surface of the water. Let the fish “tell” you what they want.

Fluke Style Baits for Smallies

The soft plastic twitch bait is fished just below the surface of the water. Most of these baits are shaped like a baitfish and come in colors that match almost any type of baitfish. The bait is allowed to sink below the surface and then it is twitched on the retrieve back to the boat. Pauses are made during the retrieve to emulate a dying baitfish.   Read more here

Other popular top water baits include the popper baits and the exciting to fish, buzz bait.

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Buzz Baits for Smallmouth Bass

Buzzbaits are the ultimate river reaction bait for smallmouth. That’s a lesson I learned from Kevin Turner, owner of River Pro Boats, a fine line of jet boats. Until meeting Turner a few years ago, I rarely used a buzzer on the river.

Turner fishes a buzzbait all summer on the upper Mississippi River, where he fishes frequently. He instructs anglers to make long casts, “peel” the lure back at 90 degrees to the river’s flow, and use 40-pound braided line to ensure positive hook-ups in strong currents.  Original source

Great learning video tips on fishing top water baits

Some final thoughts…

Try different top water baits before you give up on them. Sometimes the fish will have no interest in one but will be all over another.

Use braid for good hooksets and because it floats. Flourocarbon will sink your bait or at least ruin the action.

When top water smallmouth bass fishing, remember that seeing a bass strike your lure is a different sensation and can make you set the hook too soon so make sure you FEEL the fish before you set the hook.

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One Response to Top Water Smallmouth Bass Fishing

  1. James Mann June 13, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Top water fishing for smallmouth bass and every other species I fish is always my favourite method of fishing, whether it’s on the fly rod or my spinning rod.

    Actually I had a heart attack in 2004 and my doctors wouldn’t let me fish at all until I could pass the stress test. I had to go for 4 or the longest years of my life without fishing at all.

    Today I appreciate the heart stopping action of top water fishing ever more. 🙂

    Reply

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