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Catching Bass On Topwater Baits

Topwater Baits for Bass

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About.com Saltwater Fishing Guide's son Tom on Lake Okeechobee

About.com Saltwater Fishing Guide's son Tom on caught this bass on Lake Okeechobee

2006 Ron Brooks licensed to About.com
Topwater baits catch bass.

Although he's one of the best spawning bass fishermen in professional tournament competition, Yamaha Pro Kelly Jordon really likes the post-spawn season better. That's when topwater fishing takes center stage, and this time of year the surface action can continue all day.

"This really is the best time of year to use topwater lures because bass are still in shallow water, they're becoming more active, and it's a good chance to catch a really big fish," explains Jordon, whose favorite surface lure, naturally, is one he's designed specifically for this time of year. The lure features front and rear propellers so it produces a more subtle, natural sound than the more commonly used poppers and walking baits. Such lures are typically known as "prop baits," or "slush baits" because they don't create as much commotion.

Jordon says prop baits are the best choice for post-spawn because they can be fished all day. "Everybody loves topwater fishing because they can see the strikes on the surface," continues Jordon, "but bass are often a little more spooky during the post spawn, so sometimes less noise in your presentation will be more effective. Walking lures usually need to be retrieved fast to generate strikes, but a fast retrieve may not be as effective right now. A propeller-type surface lure can be retrieved very slowly and still make noise and move water, which is why I think it's the best lure choice for the post-spawn."

Because bass relate to cover when they're in shallow water, the Yamaha Pro targets his casts to any object he sees, including vegetation, rocks, stumps, and boat docks. In clear water, fish will come up from deeper depths to hit a surface lure, so Jordon also fishes his prop bait over submerged cover and even contour breaks. Even though actual water depth may be as deep as 50 feet, post-spawn bass will frequently suspend just eight to 10 feet down.

"My favorite retrieve with a prop bait, regardless of the water depth, is a more deliberate pulling cadence rather than a series of sharp, hard jerks," adds Jordon, who's caught bass over eight pounds on his surface lure. "I use one, two, or even three pulls, then stop. At least 90 percent of the strikes come when the lure is stopped, so letting the lure sit motionless is every bit as important as moving it.

"The one thing you don't want to do is twitch or jerk these lures, because if you do, the propellers are not nearly as effective. They don't produce a natural sound when you really jerk the bait, nor does the lure look very natural. I think one of the key attributes of these types of topwater lures is their natural appearance. I know fishermen who use prop baits practically every day of the year because they're that effective."

The Yamaha Pro usually fishes his prop baits with 14 to 25-pound monofilament line and a medium or medium/heavy action rod that has a soft tip. Monofilament line does not sink and pull the lure down and impede its action, while the rod's soft tip improves casting accuracy and keeps him from over-working the lure. When Jordon pulls the prop bait, he makes a short but slow and steady pull by moving his rod to one side. As he does, the rod tip flexes to move the lure smoothly across the surface. His preferred rod length is 6 or 6 1/2-feet.

"Prop baits are probably the easiest of all topwater lures to fish," concludes the Yamaha Pro, "because you aren't moving them very fast. They appear and sound very natural in the water, and during the post-spawn you really can fish them all day. I've had some of my most successful days fishing them in mid-afternoon when the sun is brightest.

"Prop baits do seem to catch larger bass than other topwaters do, too, which is definitely another reason to keep using them all day." /Kelly Jordon

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