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NWBasslover

Top Water Confusion

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So I was out last evening on our local river trying to gain more confidence with top water. Had a good time, had a lot of strikes, a few hook ups, but didn't land a single fish...not exactly the confidence builder I was hoping for! I changed everything, size, color, cadence, but just couldn't find the magic combination.

 

So the question is what do you guys change when you are seeing strikes but not getting any hook ups?

 

As always thanks in advance for all the advice.

 

Tight lines,

Matthew

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when i get a strike and it misses i stop the bait for a min then i give a good jerk and let it sit again usually after that first jerk they come back and suck it down...guess cause they think they stunned it on the first hit?

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One thing you could do, if fishing a bank line, is after they short strike your popper or buzzbait, throw a senko in the area of the miss. That has proved to be succesful.

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One thing you could do, if fishing a bank line, is after they short strike your popper or buzzbait, throw a senko in the area of the miss. That has proved to be succesful.

 

That is true, and I have had success with that in the past, but last night I was really sticking to my top water guns to get more confidence in them.

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Your pulling your lure out of the fishes mouth. When I get a topwater strike I pause for a few seconds. I make sure the fish has got it by the line moving. Once it's confirmed the line is moving I set the hook. Trust me it happens so fast we need to be alert.

As said above on a strike and a miss. When this happens I stop moving it. I will see the fish turn to hit it again. Just let it sit. Again when it strikes it again it's for keeps. Watch the line again for movement and set the hook.

Someday I may take a beat up spook and cut the hooks off just to see the topwater action strike after strike its awesome to watch.

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Try not looking at the bait. Watch where you are going cast next, or look for wild life, or whatever.  My hookup percentage is so much higher since i stopped watching my topwaters. 

 

Jim

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I think I need to amend my question original question.

 

What do you guys change up when the fish are striking at the bait, but not taking it, not committing?

 

When they strike I can usually hook up with confidence (except for the two I lost at the shore last night) but I was having a big problem with the fish just "tapping" the bait and not committing.

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Make the standard changes just like you did - presentation, color, size - until something works.  Try different cadences and speeds.  If you try all of these and nothing works, try switching to a different type of lure.  For example, if you are throwing a walk-the-dog lure, switch to a popper, or maybe a Devil's Horse.  BigBlock496 made a good suggestion about throwing a senko back to where the fish boiled as well. 

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I have a couple of thoughts -

 

First,  Are you sure these fish were bass ?  Sometimes fish that are "striking at the bait, but not taking it" are not  bass but something else, usually smaller.  When a Bass wants a bait - even a small bass - they get it; often times no matter how bad we foul up the hook set, they still manage to hook themselves.(top water frogs might be an exception to this)  With all the "Strikes" you got on that trip, if these were indeed bass, you'd have hook at least one.

 

And second, I'd say you are fishing with a bait and in a manner that looks like something to eat, so keep doing it, just move around until you find fish that will Eat your offering.  Because when you do, your "Hook Setting" problems will be over.

 

Good Luck

 

A-Jay

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Matthew, one of my favorite topwaters is a Zara Spook.  I have had days where bass would leap right over the lure just nicking it and knocking it out of the water.  It's strange and exciting to watch but frustrating as well. 

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I spend a lot of time throwing topwater whether its cloudy, sunny, whatever and I almost always have 2 lure at all times tied on that are topwater regardless of the situation.  I feel like my average fish is better when throwing topwater here so I take advantage of that.  Almost always I have a walking style topwater which 95% of the time is a lucky craft Sammy 100 on a 6 10 mh baitcaster and always a 1/4 ounce lobina rico popper tied on a 7 foot medium spinning rod.  Most of my fishing is spent in clear water lakes so even on a sunny day when the topwater bite shouldn't be a factor you can normally lure one into hitting that lure on top.  I may be cranking, flipping, or dragging a worm but ive come to a point where ill see something I like for topwater and ill pick it up and throw it.  I may see a lay down, a shallow flat, or a shallow grass bed as im fishing along and pick up that popper for a few cast.  I may not have a hit or I may miss a fish but I can follow up with whatever I was doing and still catch fish but most of the time, especially in shallow water or directly over cover that surface disturbance is enough to lure them out to where I don't need to follow up.  At lake Ouachita the bream bed bite gives off a huge topwater pattern this time of year and I can get a topwater in shallow place that may even be grassy with scattered perch beds where other lures wont go and the lure is right in their face.

 

I may be different than most people but if im throwing topwater and the water is clear, I normally start out working the lure with a fast retrieve as opposed to starting slow.  My clear water fish are spooky to lure sitting still or slow moving because they study and see something like hooks or something off in the coloring and they wont hit, so I start off fast and in clear water I start with something transparent. this for me generates more strikes and clear water fish normally have good enough aim to hit that faster presentation.  Its not uncommon for me to have to slow down though.  If I fish the Arkansas river which is normally muddier than the lakes here or in other cases that im just getting bad strikes,  I may start fishing fast but have a lot of fish missing the lure.  In this case I will slow down the presentation until I start getting most of the fish in the boat and that is the presentation I stick at. 

 

Starting off fast works for me in the clear water here but that may not be the answer for you ... and its not always my answer either. like I said if I am fishing to fast I slow down until it starts paying off but I don't have to stick to that rule either.  like I said I may pick that popper up to hit a lay down ... I may have been fishing fast down a bank in relatively open water but I may slow that presentation down a few cast for that lay down to keep the lure in the strike zone a little longer since it is a high percentage target before I pick the pace back up.

 

If I still have fish missing the lure this may be when I switch from walking bait to the smaller popper or switch colors.  If switching colors I may go darker or to chrome to help the fish find the lure, if I think the fish are finicky I may go to a transparent color, maybe make my popper less erratic and I never pop the popper I always walk it and catch more fish that way.

 

Almost always I keep that Sammy for morning fishing then as the bite slows I downsize to my popper.  The popper is the go to daytime topwater lure for me but if I hit a flat I want to cover with topwater and I cant get the boat farther in I may pick the Sammy up to cover deeper into the flat if I need too.

 

I also keep a topwater out on a sunny day with scattered clouds.  when that sun is up those fish may be holding tight to the cover but if a cloud moves over and creates a low light situation for even just five minutes those bass will probably suspend outside of the cover or on the edge.  this is a really good time to put down your jig or worm youre throwing and throw topwater instead.

 

... that's just to help getting the right strike.

 

so you've got the fish to commit that's only half the battle.  I heard somewhere that less than half of the topwater fish ever make it to the boat.  Fish hits and its temping to rip that lure but that's not a good solution.  My approach isn't to stop the lure or to count to a certain number like most, I keep working the lure and I go until I feel the fish.  this works very well for me. if the fish has it, within a few twitches of the rod tip I feel the weight (the hooks may already be halfway stuck since I was twitching the rod tip) and I reel tight and pull into the fish somewhat like a crankbait hookset ... after all they are thin treble hooks that don't need to be laid into.  if it is way out there on a long cast I may actually set the hook like a regular hookset  since I throw topwater on a rod with a pretty flexible tip and mono that stretches just to get the hooks in there better farther out.  that's if they get it in there mouth.  if they don't ive never stopped working that lure and 9 times out of 10 they turn right back around and they wont miss it the next time.  if they've slapped it or knocked it under I normally do slow the retrieve for a second or twitch twitch pause it because in the case they were slapping to wound or kill it they are probably expecting that lure to not look so lively.

 

For slappers you got to have really good hooks that will hopefully stick the fish anyways ... this will help with smallmouth, spots, and whitebass too since they have smaller mouths than a largemouth. lobina and lucky craft come with really sharp hooks so I don't upgrade them out of the box but I will when they become dull or mangled beyond repair.  after every fish I make sure to bend the hook back to where it was.  most have topwater have round bend hooks.  they aren't designed to be flared out past where they come from the factory because they will drag in the mouth of the fish and not hook up well.  Round bend wont stick either if the hooks are rolled in either since there is now very little space to grab hold around the point of the hook... leave that for the wide gap hooks. Just pay attention to the hooks and make sure they are right after ripping them out of a fish because any outward bend of the hook on round bends is going to probably end up with less landed fish.

 

I know that was a lot but I hope I helped somewhere and ide be glad to help anymore if I can.

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