There have been instances when, while writing an article, I’ll find the inspiration for another article. This, of course, is great, and allows me to expand on the first article and offer even more helpful tips. Recently, I shed some light on the effectiveness of topwater lures when seeking speckled trout and during the process of writing that article, was struck with the idea to spotlight some of the different topwater lures available to accomplish this task. That being said, today you’ll learn about the various types of topwater plugs that many anglers throw at specks or redfish, so keep reading to learn how each type can be used to fill your livewell.
There are three basic types of topwater plugs: poppers, “walking” baits, and propeller baits. While each one really finds its action and appeal when accompanied by rod twitches, each one brings something different to the table.
Poppers are a great way to test the waters, so to speak, in terms of topwater action on a given day. As their name implies, poppers are floating lures with a concave face and, when jerked in the water with a subtle twitch of the rod, make a popping noise and churn up water in between pauses. Generally, I like to let the rings of water disappear in between pops before I twitch the rod again, just to allow for a moment of silence after which the pop can make more noise. This pause and pop pattern imitates an injured prey item perfectly, and is also a great way to judge the aggressiveness of fish. It’s helped me a lot in the past when I’ve fished a spot for the first time. Rebel Pop-R’s and Arbogast Hula Poppers are great options for this type.
Plugs designed for walking, aka Dancing or Walk-the-Dog, are also a great topwater option. This variant requires a little more constant action on the angler’s part, but is so exciting and effective when done right. Accomplishing the walk-the-dog action involves a balance of slight rod twitches and a steady retrieval, which will cause the lure to display a side to side motion in the water as it’s retrieved. Heddon’s Zara Spooks are popular among anglers, but the Badonk-a-Donk from Bomber yields great results as well, especially in saltwater.
Topwater plugs that are outfitted with propellers can be a lot of fun to use. As these baits are retrieved, the propellers kick up water with a “swishing” noise and the faster the retrieve, the more they spin. A great tactic to use with prop baits is a stop-and-go retrieve, much like a popper, but focusing more on the retrieve, not rod twitches. This allows the bait to surge forward with a flurry of propeller action and then stop suddenly.
The most important thing to remember when fishing with any topwater lure is to refrain from setting the hook until you feel the weight of the fish on your line, and not right when you see the strike. Yes, it’s exciting to see and hear the explosiveness of a fish hitting the lure, but setting it too early could cost you that fish, so count a few seconds after the strike before setting the hook. Topwater lures are equipped with two sets of treble hooks, so odds are the fish is hooked; you just want make sure it’s a solid hookset before jerking back on the rod. Topwater lures may require some patience and focus, but you’ll be glad you used one when that first surface strike occurs!