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I just recently became somewhat addicted to the top water bite for smallmouth bass. In years past I only occasionally went to them, had limited success and didn't have much confidence in them. You know how it is with those presentations that you just have no confidence in? You don't go to them when maybe you should, and you don't throw them long as long as maybe you should. That's how I was with top waters.

 

This year I've banged a few beauties on a couple of different top-water baits. It's becoming my prefered method. When they smash that thing on surface, it makes me almost have a cardiac. Awesome! I had an 18 incher miss it once, come back and hit it so hard it cleared two feet of water. Geez I wish I was doing it right now!

 

I've been liking this Rapala Skitter Walk and weightless Texas-rigged power lizards. Mainly I've been getting them in fairly shallow water, usually on top of visable structure...timber or big boulders. What other features and situations should I be trying them on? I've heard of guys raising them out of 15 feet of water or more, is this true? I've had better luck when the water is still, is there any point using them on the chop? How much dead time do you like?...periods when you just let the bait sit motionless on the surface?

 

Any top water wisdom would be welcome. Thanks.

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When i use poppers i usually twich twice and let sit 10 sec and repeat. I only use top water when surface is flat and i always tie directly to lure so it doesn't sink the mouth and i cannot get a nice pop. When using line i go for something stiff i have used light mono and it just makes a mess out of it.Wait a little bit after the strike before you set the hook.hope this helps :thumbsup_anim:

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Can you expand upon the "wait until you set the hook" thing? Is that even possible?...did I mention the cardiac episode I nearly have when the fish breaks water or boils? :w00t:

 

Are you talking about a few seconds, or a fraction of a second? I'll try my best but the instinct to drive it home is pretty strong. When I'm popping a bait there's sometimes a little slack in the line, should I just wait for the tension after a strike?

 

Thanks for your help. What can you tell me about getting a rise out of deeper water (10-20 feet) bass. Is it worth trying?

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I've risen muskoka bass from as deep as 20 feet on buzzbaits, Jitterbugs and spooks. A little chop often makes things better.

 

Wait until you feel the fish to set the hook. Tough to train yourself to do but far, far less missed fish that way!

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largest smallmouth i ever caught was on a crazy-crawler in the kawarthas, but last summer i nailed three trophies on charleston with a pop-r. that was a strange situation, too, because they were way out in the middle of the lake, and that lake is nearly 100ft deep in parts. first i'd seen that.

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Can you expand upon the "wait until you set the hook" thing? Is that even possible?...did I mention the cardiac episode I nearly have when the fish breaks water or boils? :w00t:

 

Are you talking about a few seconds, or a fraction of a second? I'll try my best but the instinct to drive it home is pretty strong. When I'm popping a bait there's sometimes a little slack in the line, should I just wait for the tension after a strike?

 

Thanks for your help. What can you tell me about getting a rise out of deeper water (10-20 feet) bass. Is it worth trying?

 

Smallies tend to turn once thy have inhaled prey so you need to give them a second or you'll pull it right out of their yap.

 

P.

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Love the poppers for smallies. Just got back from the cottage for a week and I basically fished topwater the whole time. This helps reduce unwanted pike attacks although they still are a nuisance even on topwater. Like others have said...patience grasshopper, wait until you feel the fishes weight before setting the hook. I caught several bass this week that had boiled at the bait seconds earlier, then smashed it the next time

Edited by Rizzo
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I use jitterbugs and hula poppers when the surface is like glass at dusk and was rewarded big time with some chunky ones. It's a real great feeling to see bass come up and inhale the lure and I have seen a few bass take a hula popper that was sitting there for a good 30-40 seconds after being casted out.

 

For me black is the color of choice for poppers and frog pattern color for jitterbug. As mentioned, once you cast out, wait for the ripples to fade away before starting the retrieve.

Leechman

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Can you expand upon the "wait until you set the hook" thing? Is that even possible?...did I mention the cardiac episode I nearly have when the fish breaks water or boils? :w00t:

 

Are you talking about a few seconds, or a fraction of a second? I'll try my best but the instinct to drive it home is pretty strong. When I'm popping a bait there's sometimes a little slack in the line, should I just wait for the tension after a strike?

 

Thanks for your help. What can you tell me about getting a rise out of deeper water (10-20 feet) bass. Is it worth trying?

 

I start quickly reeling in any slack in my line as soon as I see a strike. I don't have a ton of experience with topwater smallmouths, but largemouths at least will hang onto a hardbait quite a while once they've committed to smashing it on the surface. I'll usually know in a second or so if they have it. When my rod starts to load up on the fish, I set the hook with a hard pull, rather than a jerk. You definately don't need (or want) to "cross their eyes" with the razor sharp trebles on most topwaters. If there's no fish there after picking up the slack, I'll let it sit a few and then go back to working the bait in, hoping for a second bite.

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Great advice on this thread about top water fishing.

 

I modify my Jitterbugs in two ways:

1. Change the hooks - Gamakatsu brand and one size bigger than stock.

2, Add a split ring - gives the hook some room to absorb the force of the fish pulling on the other end. I've found that adding a split ring reduces the incidence of a fish getting off.

 

Some guys have suggested fishing topwaters with your eyes closed so you don't set the hook prematurely. That's the worst advice I've ever heard - the point of topwater fishing is seeing the excitement of the strike.

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My favourite technique for top water smallmouth involves the use of a 7 weight fly rod, spun deer hair or balsa bodies and feathery tails. As for striking too soon wait till you see the line move is my way of avoiding setting the hooks too soon.

 

At first light on a small lake smallies can be extremely shallow and even the splat of a 3/8 oz. hula popper will spook them. Good time for the canoe and flyrod .

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All good advice guys. I`m going to camp tomorrow and will try out some of what I`ve heard here. Thanks.

 

I have one other question. A poster mentioned using top-water for bass as a method for reducing pike strikes. I have a "buddy" who claims that his go to method for pike IS topwater. It wouldn`t be the first time he`s said something a little shady in an effort to "one-up" me. I was telling him about some nice smallies I`d gotten off surface and he basically said, "Top-water smallies are boring, I go for top-water pike. THAT's fishing, not your little bass." Like I said, he's a "buddy" of mine.

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This was shared with me recently.

 

Increased my hook-up rate on top-water quite a bit:

 

Keep your rod at the 11:00 position. When the fish strikes, you have to lower the rod tip to get leverage to set the hook. The time it takes to lower the tip and get it back up to set the hook is enough time for the fish to commit and get the bait in their yap.

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Im not the most experienced fisherman but i did alot of research on top water methods before i hit the lake with a few new poppers and jitterbugs. Ive had the most success with the frog patterned JB. This was the advice i gave my GF when i lent her my topwater lures.

 

Cast. wait 5-8 seconds, reel slowly so that the lure dances a bit while keeping the front profile nice and low. When the fish hits wait for him to take it down and away from you before setting the hook. Best way to tell is when your line taughts itself a bit, then, BAM! set that hook! If the fish hits and the line slacks its cause its swimming towards you. Attempting to set the hook then could cause you to pull it right from its mouth so tilt/angle your rod appropriately so that your always pulling in the opposite direction that the fish is swimming.

 

Result- GF- two 3,4 lbs smallies in 15 mins

Me- nill...........(insert durogatory remark here).....

 

the water conditions changed pretty quickly so that was the end of topwater fishing. High winds= too much wake. i couldnt be happier for her tho. Her first topwater strikes. She couldnt handle the adrenaline that ensued, had to chill for a few mins before she could cast again LOL.

 

Anyways i hope that was useful. If it worked for the gf then it should work for most others hehehe.

 

failed to mention that this was all on the frog patterned JB!

 

Cheers!

Edited by Jip
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Just got back from the Grand River and NO NEED to pause for the fish to turn tonight :) No hits on a jointed Rap so I switched to a Jitterbug and soon a tank smashed it and sent my drag whizzing. Fish was 19" plus. No more takers on the J bug so I switched to a white Hoola Popper with white body and white skirt. Second Smallie smashed the popper and at 17" fought harder the bigger fish.

I think I know where I'm going to fish for next year's derby!!! I will get a camera and get some proof; I wrecked my last one Steelheading this Spring and can't risk taking the new one out.

 

Paul

 

Sorry Taz4432, we'll get out, this trip came up last minute.

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All good advice guys. I`m going to camp tomorrow and will try out some of what I`ve heard here. Thanks.

 

I have one other question. A poster mentioned using top-water for bass as a method for reducing pike strikes. I have a "buddy" who claims that his go to method for pike IS topwater. It wouldn`t be the first time he`s said something a little shady in an effort to "one-up" me. I was telling him about some nice smallies I`d gotten off surface and he basically said, "Top-water smallies are boring, I go for top-water pike. THAT's fishing, not your little bass." Like I said, he's a "buddy" of mine.

 

Pike will hit topwater baits, of course. That being said, I've never come across one while topwater fishing for smallmouth. Only topwater pike I get seem to be in or near the slop for largemouth.

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I nail pike all the time fishing topwater for smallies. It really depends on the location you are fishing...

 

Don't over look topwater on deep weed edges like Rich has mentioned.. My oldman and I had a banner day last year out on the Pool nailing smallies out of 20+ft of water on topwaters...

 

Also nailed a 36inch ski last year doing the same thing :)

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You must have misunderstood my comment about "reducing" unwanted pike encounters. The key is reduce, not eliminate. I catch a ton of pike on topwater, however, I catch far more in other ways. At our cottage, if I chucked a spinnerbait or xrap I would catch 10 or more pike in an hour. When I'm after bass, my best approach is to go topwater as that will reduce my pike catches to around 3-5 per hour...less time fiddling with pike means more time to go after bass.

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