Bass anglers will be familiar with a handful of popular topwater lurs: prop baits, stick baits, poppers, and wobblers. What some may not know, however, is that all of these are available in smaller sizes, as well, and it pays to keep a few great color patterns on hand.
Stick baits are great due to their action. Walking the dog is a legendary technique associated with stick baits, but it can still be used with smaller models, such as the three-inch Zara Puppy, or any other similar lure. Try twitching the lures near stumps or lily pads with a steady, smooth retrieve and you’ll be amazed with the results.
Prop baits typically boast propellers on either one or both ends of their bodies to allow them to spit water on the retrieve. The splash of the propeller makes them easier for bass to locate, especially if the water’s surface is ruffled by the wind. I like to cast them, and then let them sit until the rings stop forming. Then I gently twitch it, wait several seconds, and repeat. If this doesn’t produce, then I’ll switch to a steady pumping, which usually does the trick. Some of my favorites in this category include Heddon’s Tiny and Teeny Torpedoes, with the Teeny being more effective in clearer waters, when bass are a little pickier.
In clear waters or on hard-pressured bass, smaller wobblers are great. They wobble just as great as their larger counterparts, but won’t scare off wary fish. I’ve had great luck with them near flooded timber, weed beds, farm ponds, and especially at night. Unlike most surface lures, smaller wobblers work best when they’re retrieved steadily, which brings out the best in the bait’s enticing wobble.
Finally, we have poppers. The smallest poppers typically measure between 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches. This makes them excellent choices for pressured or clear waters. The spray and noise they create when you pop them draws fish when there’s a slight chop on the water and some breeze. Work them with a rhythmic, pumping retrieve to start, and if that doesn’t produce, try lightly twitching them to make a small disturbance on the surface. This is especially useful if the wind is calm. I like the Rebel Pop R and the Hula Popper, which you should be able to find wherever tackle is sold.
Many anglers are surprised at just how much difference switching to a smaller lure can make. Doing so with topwater lures can pay off in spades, so the next time you’re stocking up, toss a few small topwaters in your cart. You’ll be happy you did.