I'm a sucker for a good topwater bite. If I know there's a chance I'll get one good blowup all day, I'll cast a topwater 'til my arm about falls off in 100 degrees. Topwater fishing is the most fun you can have on the water in my opinion. It exaggerates the one thing I like most about fishing to its peak level—the anticipation.
So naturally, being such a sucker for a good topwater bite makes me a sucker again for a good topwater lure. There are A LOT of baits out there now. Some, not so good. Some, way better than others. Strike King has a track record of producing a lot of home run hitters. Triples and doubles on a regular basis as well to extend the metaphor a bit. And rarely ever does a bait of theirs not get on base in my book.
With that analogy in place and now knowing my affection for topwater baits, you can understand my optimism when I was given the chance to review the Sexy Dawg Hard Knock by the guys at Wired2fish. I jumped on it and have been really impressed with the bait so far. I haven't been using it long, but it's headed for third base already and I may very well wave it on home.
The same but different
The Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knock is the same as its predecessor, the Sexy Dawg, in every way but one- sound. The original Sexy Dawg has two different sized beads in a chamber near its tail and one bead in a chamber near its head. Where the Hard Knock has only one large bead near the tail in what appears to be a slightly longer chamber. We'll get into more about the sound difference that creates in a minute.
Other than that, you're looking at basically the same bait. Available in 13 colors for now, the new Hard Knock doesn't have quite as many color options as the original Sexy Dawg, but still a plenty to choose from. And there's no Hard Knock Jr as of right now. In the original Sexy Dawg you have a 3-hook, 4 1/2-inch version and a two hook, 3 1/2-inch version. For the Hard Knock, just the larger of the two is currently available. Now, back to the noise.
The sound of the Sexy Dawg Hard Knock is pretty sick, in a good way. The original Sexy Dawg has a sharp, almost glassy sound to its rattle. There have been countless topwaters at this point that have a multiple bead rattle chamber like the Sexy Dawg, but somehow Strike King still created something with a unique sound. Likewise with the new Hard Knock, there have been other topwaters built on a big single bead platform that are really effective at catching fish, but again the Hard Knock doesn't sound just like those. It has a very distinct, hard knock with still a slight sharpness to it.
Topwaters like this with a solid knock to them tend to be more effective when you need that little extra to draw a fish's attention. Whether I'm fishing over a brush pile in 15 feet of water or working a topwater through a mayfly hatch with bream busting all around, I'll typically opt for a hard-knocking bait like this over one with more of a rattle.
I like the front end of the Sexy Dawg lineup. Instead of bringing the nose to a rounded point, Strike King finished the underside off with a flat, slanted section. This creates a nice spitting action when you work the bait, especially quickly.
Again, bait design these days is usually about creating something that is already proven with a little twist to try to make it better. There are other baits with a nose design like the Sexy Dawg but not all walking topwaters have a nose like this. So the more you look at baits of a particular genre the more you can break them apart into little subgroups based on their design.
When you get to a bait like the Sexy Dawg Hard Knock, you find something that's inching its way into its own lane. With the nose design added to the hard knocking rattle, I'm not aware of another bait just like it. And uniqueness is something that garners my confidence in a bait since it's such a rarity at this stage.
Round bend hooks
Anytime I'm throwing a bait that fish are prone to slap at, I prefer hooks with a wide opening at the barb. The Hard Knock comes preloaded with three round bend hooks and I was pleased to see that.
I really love the locking power of the Mustad Triple Grip hooks. They do a great job of digging into a fish when you're using a bait that fish can engulf entirely. But I'll rarely use them on a topwater unless I can step up a size or two. The reason being, a Triple Grip hook has a narrower gap from point to shaft than a round bend style hook of the same size.
When fish are slapping at a topwater, you often won't even hook them in the mouth but instead in the top or side fo the head. If the points of the hooks are curled in like they are with a Triple Grip style hook, you lose some of that potential of having the fish hook itself outside the mouth.
Again, when a bait sets up well for it, I will change over to a couple oversized Triple Grips. But for the Sexy Dawg Hard Knock, three well placed round bend hooks are ideal. A bait the same length with two hook hangers wound be where I'd make the swap.
Durability and final thoughts
As I previously stated, I haven't fished with this bait a ton. But I can already tell you that it is more durable than some of the other topwaters I've fished with. I like to throw a topwater into places others won't try. That gives me a slight advantage (in my mind at least) over the competition and confidence is everything with so many people on the water these days.
The problem with going the extra mile is that it doesn't always go smoothly. When trying to get the bait under docks or laydowns and as close to seawalls and rocks as possible, there are some inevitable collisions. With some other topwaters in the past, a slight glance off cover is typically a crack producing death sentence that leads me to throw the bait one last time, into the trash.
Furthermore, I've had a lot of issue with baits like this with one big bead in the chamber. The internal chamber will crack or bust and the bead will either break free into the body of the bait or get lodged in the end of the chamber and cease to roll end to end. Not only does this silence the knocking noise the bait is known for but it also throws the balance of the bait off, rendering it again good for nothing but the garbage.
So far, durability hasn't been an issue with the Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knock.
I'm really impressed with my early experiences with the Sexy Dawg Hard Knock. And with the confidence that I already have with the original Sexy Dawg and Sexy Dawg Jr, I don't see my impression of the bait changing too much over time.
A unique sound paired with a proven design, good hook placement and selection to capitalize on as many blowups as possible, lots of colors to choose from and a solid bait construction means this will be the first of many Sexy Dawg Hard Knocks I own.
The Sexy Dawg Hard Knock is available at