In bass fishing, it would be hard to find something more fun and exciting than catching one on a topwater lure. The explosion on the surface is thrilling and never gets old, which is why topwater fishing is a favorite of just about anyone who's ever tried it. Thankfully, with the popularity of this type of fishing, there are many different baits to choose from.
With so many options, we broke it down to the following lures that are proven and worth a purchase, but first, here's a rundown of the five types of hard plastic topwater baits.
Breaking Down The Different Types
Topwater baits are generally walking baits, poppers, ploppers, wake baits, or prop baits. Some blend between two or more different styles of baits with qualities of each, but this quintet covers just about all of them.
- Walking baits – The most popular type of topwater baits, walking baits sashay back and forth during the retrieve. This is called "walking the dog," the action is excellent for attracting bass and getting them to strike on the surface.
- Poppers – These smaller topwater baits have a cupped face and will "pop" water with each rod twitch. They are great for casting around targets that bass hide in, such as around bushes, docks, and openings in vegetation.
- Ploppers – This is one of the newer styles of topwater baits for bass and features a rotating tail section that "plops" as the lure is retrieved. They are great when the bass want something aggressive and loud.
- Wake baits – These baits skim along the surface and cause a wake. Generally fished with a straight retrieve, they are great for calling fish to the surface without too much action.
- Prop baits – This style of bait has a small propeller either at the back of the bait or both the front and back. As the bait moves, the props, made of either metal or plastic, spin and add some noise and commotion.
There are a host of different poppers on the market, and truthfully, they all do about the same thing. There are slight differences between brands with better paint finishes and more quality components like more expensive hooks and feathered trailers, but they will get the job done for the most part.
This style of bait has many different variations that work very well. One of the most popular is the Heddon Zara Spook. It's so popular that "spook" has become a generic term for many walking topwater baits.
The Heddon version comes in several sizes, with the jumbo Super Spook being a cant-miss option if you are looking for a new topwater that will catch plenty of bass. Other great ones in this lineup include the Lucky Craft Sammy, Reaction Innovations Vixen, Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil, and Strike King Sexy Dawg.
Also in this category are a few baits that blend the lines and walk side-to-side, creating a splash, such as the Lucky Craft Gunfish or a whole new category called pencil poppers. Pencil poppers are great for drawing fish up from the depths, and some of the most popular and effective are the ima Little Stik and Ever Green Shower Blows, which come in different size options to match the size of the baitfish in your waters.
This style of bait was popularized by the River2Sea Whopper Plopper, which took the bass fishing world by storm when the company started making bass-sized baits with the plopping tail. Previously, it was a much larger design that was excellent for pike and muskie.
The original River2Sea Whopper Plopper is very popular because it works well and comes in many sizes and colors. Another bait to consider is the Berkley Choppo, which has many options. You can't go wrong with either brand; they are both proven fish-catchers.
This style of bait is fun to fish when the fish are looking toward the surface. This is also a wide range of baits; some wake baits are long and slender baits that look like minnows, and some are more aggressive with broad wobbling actions.
For the minnow-imitators, baits like the original Bomber Long A or Cotton Cordell Red Fin Wakebaits are great. Baits like the Japanese-imported Deps MT Wake and Buzzjet are solid choices for more aggressive action. No matter which you choose, they are fun topwater baits that are highly visual and get fantastic strikes.
This style of bait is another great option and is extremely popular in some regions around the bass spawn and when bass are feeding on spawning bluegill.
The most popular is the Smithwick Devil's Horse, which has been around for eons but is still one of the best baits in Florida and other states around the spawn. They are generally fished with more of a straight pulling retrieve that gets the props to spin and bubble, then pausing them to allow fish to locate them before removing them again.
Another popular type of prop baits are those that closely imitate bluegill, and these are excellent when bass are keyed in on small sunfish, either raiding bluegill beds or cruising around shallow waters. Some of the best are made from balsa wood and include favorites like the PH Custom Lures Lil' Gill. Expect great topwater blowups, no matter what prop bait you choose.
Topwater baits are offered in various shapes and sizes, with a vast variance of prices and color options. To keep it simple, an angler should have a few different baits from the five main categories and a handful of colors to match various baitfish.
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