Topwater fishing is full swing now in many places across the country, but not all topwaters are created equally. And several have specific situational advantages, where one is far more effective than another.
Today, we’re going to look at 5 topwater options for summer bass fishing that are all uniquely equipped to handle different situations a little better than the others. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re fishing for spotted bass, smallmouth or largemouth, around boulders, through vegetation or even out in the wide open.
Walking style topwater
Walking style topwaters like an Xcite Baits Heckler work really well in several different situations during the summer. For starters, these are great baits when bass are schooling, especially offshore over deeper water. These are among the best baits for making bomb casts, enabling an angler to extend the radius of their range out further.
But they also kind of stall a bit, as they are walked side to side. This is a great cadence for talking bass into biting, as the bait stays in the strike zone longer.
Using a topwater option for summer bass fishing like this around deeper cover like the ends of laydowns and overtop sunken brush piles works really well too, as well as along side docks. In all these situations, the bass may be a little deeper. Walking a topwater like this back and forth does a better job of calling these fish up while staying in the strike zone, giving the bass enough time to locate and eat the bait, as compared to something like a buzzbait being reeled quickly by for example.
A popper, like the Team ARK Z-Pop, works really well when fish are shallow, but still relating to cover. Say there’s a brush pile in 3 feet of fairly clear water for instance, on a calm day. You don’t really need a bait that causes a lot of commotion or has a lot of drawing power. Instead, you’re better off going with a smaller bait that has more of a finesse action, a good color scheme and a feathered tail. The feathered tell is important, as this is often what the bass will key in on and suck in, even if they don’t explode on the bait and eat it entirely.
Poppers also work really well in the early summer because they mimic the size and activity of much of the prey bass feed on during this season. Small bluegill and threadfin shad are often right along the surface in the early summer. The bream are often picking insects off the surface.
And the shad are either spawning during the mornings of the early summer, or schooling up into small balls that cruise shallow flats right along the surface. In each of these instances, the right color popper selection, based on the forage and the water color, can be an excellent tool throughout the entire day.
A popping frog like the Spro Bronzeye Poppin Frog and a popper can be used interchangeably at times, but you’ll often find that one out performs the other. In truly open water situations or around isolated cover, a popper is hard to beat. But when bass are back under bushes or hunkered down in vegetation, a popping frog makes for a much better offering.
It’s extremely weedless characteristic allows the angler to present a popping style bait deep in cover like water willow and lily pads. And, though a popper can be skipped a few feet, a popping frog skips much easier and much further.
It’s also important in the summer that you select a popping frog, and not just a traditional hollow body frog with a pointed nose that’s designed more for walking. Though bass will bite a walking frog in the summer, these baits are a little more finesse and better suited for the spring, when bass are a little more skittish and lethargic.
In the summer, bass are on the prowl, aggressive and willing to cover some ground to catch up to a good meal. A popping frog creates a larger disturbance, so it has more drawing power. But there’s no need to really rip this bait, a soft walking chug will do the trick nicely. And it better mimics the activity of a feeding or injured bluegill, making it a great bait to fish around bluegill beds and insect hatches, which are both prevalent this time of year.
When mentioning bream beds, it’s hard to leave out a prop bait. Bream, such as bluegill and shell cracker, spawn throughout much of the summer in relatively shallow water. You can locate these beds with your electronics, or often with a quality pair of polarized glasses, sometimes even with the naked eye.
A bream bed looks like a wad of car tires laying on the bottom in a kind of honeycomb like grouping, typically with a half dozen to a dozen or so individuals circles in the grouping.
Prop baits, like the classic Brian’s Bee or this Lucky Craft Kelly J Prop Bait, have a small spinner on each end and are designed to be ripped along the surface using intermittent twitches of the rod. This works really well at mimicking an injured or feeding bluegill, but it’s a slow process when wanting to cover lots of water.
So a prop bait really works best in the summer when actively fishing around known bluegill beds, or around shallow isolated targets like brush piles, stumps and clumps of vegetation.
Reeling prop baits
Though the revolutionary River2Sea Whopper Plopper, the Berkley Choppo and other similar baits are also often referred to as prop baits, they are drastically different than the traditional prop baits we mentioned previously. Where those baits have two small spinners and are twitched along with pauses in between, a Whopper Plopper style bait has one big prop on the back (typically) and is made to be reeled along continuously.
These baits create a lot of commotion, come equipped with heavy gear and can be casted long distances. This makes them fantastic search baits. If you’re trolling down a bank looking for bream beds for instance, you can pickup a bait like this and bomb cast it out, and then parallel the bank while you are cruising along with your trolling motor on high, giving yourself a chance to intersect a bass or perhaps even a small school of them that are also on the prowl looking for bedding bream.
This is the best topwater bait for covering water in the summer, because you can fish it effectively and quickly, and it has a lot of drawing power.
These five baits aren’t the only topwaters that work well in the summer. Reeling toads, buzz baits, wake baits, pencil poppers and others are all excellent too. But, you should be able to take one of these five topwaters in the summer and be able to effectively target a bass in any situation that’s willing to come up and suck down a meal.