Top Water Lures

Top water fishing has to be some of the most fun and exciting ways to catch fish. What does this entail? Top water fishing means just that, skimming your lure across the top of the water. For me this has proven to be a very successful way to catch fish. A top water lure/bait will usually try to resemble a frog, injured fish, or even a mouse, yes that’s right a mouse! These lures are very effective for largemouth bass, but they have also been noted to catch the odd pike and even a walleye.

Here’s how to fish them. Ideally top water lures are used in calm bays, in and around lily pads, or around structure. What you don’t want to do is cast your top water bait into some choppy water as this will prove to be ineffective. The action (the motion) of the bait is such that it will make a lot of noise and stir up the water enticing fish to bite. If you cast this type of bait in rough waters all the characteristics of the action are taken away and the fish will not even notice your bait swimming through. Think about it, these baits are supposed to resemble a frog or mouse, and a real life frog or mouse isn’t going to jump into some rough water or it could be bashed about and be killed. The beauty of fishing top water lures is that they help prevent snags on weeds. As they skim across the top you will avoid getting stuck in the thick stuff. If you are fishing a calm body of water and are constantly getting snagged on weeds then try switching to a top water bait, you will have much more enjoyment out of fishing this way as you will not have to clean your bait on every cast.

The fun of top water baits is that you can actually see the fish take the bait, and believe me that is a beautiful thing and gets your blood pumping. Picture it, you’re in a calm bay fishing around some lily pads and the sun has just begun to set. It’s that magical hour where everything just seems to calm down and turn a golden orange. You cast out your top water bait and start the retrieve. The bait is just bobbin from side to side, making little splashes, and then all of a sudden WHACK! A monster comes along and nails your bait. The beauty is that you see this monster pop out of the water, make a splash, and snag your bait. Oh man, that is making me want to head out to fish right now.

But, how do you fish them? Well, my favourite top water bait is the Jitterbug by Arbogast. This has to be one of the simplest top water baits to use. You simply have to cast it out and use a steady retrieve. As you can see in the picture below the bait has a large plate in the front of it.

Jitterbug - Top View

Jitterbug - Top View

Jitterbugs - Side View

Jitterbugs - Side View

This plate is shaped in such a way that the bait moves side to side and even makes a little bubbling noise as it goes along. I would suggest you have a few of these in your tackle box as these will prove to be an essential bait for you. One of my friends, who just recently got into fishing big time, asked me to come along with him as he went to Bass Pro Shop to get a bunch of lures. The first thing I went for, amongst the multitude of lures there, was the Jitterbug. Sure enough later that same summer he landed a few really nice bass up at one of our local lakes.

Arbogast makes a variety of top water lures, from the Jitterbug, to the jointed Jitterbug, and a Hula Popper. The Hula Popper has a funny name but when you start fishing it you will know why it is called a Hula Popper. As you cast it out you don’t retrieve it as you would a normal bait. You have to twitch your rod and make the bait pop. This popping noise makes the fish think that there is an injured fish or frog for them to eat. Twitching your rod means to give it a slight jerk, stop for a couple of seconds, then give your reel a slight retrieve until you develop tension in your line again and repeat. One key note when fishing top water baits is to actually let the fish take the bait before you set your hook. If you try to set your hook as soon as you hear or feel a splash in the water you may miss the fish. Sometimes the fish swim up to the bait and snap at it but they miss it. If you try to set your hook too early you will scare the fish away and they won’t come back for a second bite. If you sense a snap at your bait and the fish is not on the lure, simply stop the retrieve, twitch it a few times and wait. A lot of the times the fish will come back and hit that bait hard because they don’t want it to get away. If you missed the fish completely, re-cast in the same spot and present the bait again, chances are that the big one is still sitting there ready to pounce.

Top water lures come in all shapes and sizes. Other then the Jitterbug and Hula Popper there are a variety of lure makers with top water baits. Some resemble frogs, some mice, and others look like some alien being, but they all work on the same principles. By putting your bait on top of the water and making some noise the fish think they have struck gold by coming across an easy bit of food. Try a variety of top water lures and chose what works best for you.

Where do you fish them? As I said the best places to fish them is in calm waters. Ideally you want to fish them in the morning hours or late evening, however, you can also fish them at night as they make noise and stir up the water making it easy for fish to locate the bait. I will usually find a bay with a large amount of lily pads or some tree structure and cast into there. As you know fish love to hide in lily pads and by presenting a top water bait to the fish that live here you will show them something irresistible. These baits will usually be most productive in mid to late summer as the fish are in a feeding frenzy, but keep on trying them out and I am sure you will land a big one.

Arbogast® Jitterbugs® - Jointed - 2-1/2

Arbogast® Jitterbugs® – Jointed – 2-1/2″ – Black

Just reel an Arbogast Jitterbug in and let it wag back and forth with a deep, gurgling rhythm that bass can’t ignore. The bigger lunkers often follow the Jitterbug for half a retrieve until they can’t resist it anymore and attack. In 3 versions: Original “Jitterbug” “Weedless” hook and skirted for thick cover “Jointed” tail for extra shimmy. Arbogast® Jitterbugs®