HookedinFishing » Topwater

Complete Guide to Topwater Bass Fishing

Topwater lures, as the name suggest float and stay on top of the water surface. They create the most visual and impressive bass strikes. It’s hard to beat the excitement of seeing bass explode out of the water as they hit your lure.

In this guide we will walk you through the different types, when and how to fish them, as well as everything else you need to know to be successful using topwater baits.

Types of Topwater Lures

Poppers & Chuggers

Poppers or chuggers have a flat or concave face that when quickly jerked create a popping sound and small splash. This action emulates prey struggling on the surface. They often have a feathered treble hook on the back.

These lures are typically smaller than other topwater baits and are more of a finesse topwater option.

These topwater lures are great for targeting precise areas like openings in grass, weeds, or lily pads. They also do great under overhanging tree limbs and bushes.

Walking baits

Walking or stick baits are slightly weighted in the back so that the front floats up higher in the water. This helps whip the head side to side, creating the walking action. These don’t create as much noise or splashing as other topwater baits so they work better in calmer water.

Prop baits

Prop baits has propellers on at least one end but often times both the front and back. As you retrieve the lure these propellers spin, creating a gurgling sound.

They can be fished on a simple straight retrieve or on a stop and go retrieve.


Buzzbaits are similar to spinnerbaits, but they with a triangular shaped blade that are double or sometimes triple winged. The blade causes the bait to lift and spash on the surface.

They are the noisiest topwater lure with the blades creating a clacking or squeaking noise. The loud noise and splashing makes it a great search bait that you can work quick and cover a lot of water.


Topwater frogs come in solid or hollow body. They are used in the heat of the summer when bass hide in the shade of lily pads and grass. The frogs glide over the vegetation and are extremely weedless with their hooks turned up.

Frogs should be fished on a stop and go retrieve with your pauses being in any openings in the mats. Many anglers struggle with frog fishing because they set the hook too early. This jerks the frog out of their mouth before they fully engulf the bait.

The key is to wait a second or two until you feel it or see your line moving, which indicates that the bass actually has the bait.

Best Time to Throw Topwater Baits

The best times for topwater bass fishing are during low light conditions like early mornings, overcast days, or at night. Bass don’t have eyelids so when it’s super bright out they avoid looking up towards the sun. Low light conditions allow them to safety look up without damaging their eyes.

Along with light levels, the time of year also plays a big role in the success of topwater lures. Bass have seasonal patterns where they spend more time shallow and are more aggressive. The best time of the year for topwater is late spring when water temperature starts to reach 68 degrees, summer, and early fall.

How to Fish Topwater Lures

The best way to fish topwater is to cast your bait near or above cover. As your lure approaches the cover add in a few rod twitches or short pauses to your retrieve. These twitches or stop and go action is what often causes bass to strike.

What Fishing Line to Use for Topwater

The best line to use for topwater is between braid and monofilament, or in some cases a combination of the two by utilizing a leader.

Since fluorocarbon sinks it should be avoided completely when fishing topwater. The weight of the line will pull the nose of your bait down which can mess up the action.

When to Use Braid for Topwater

  • Frog fishing in vegetation – braided line cuts through vegetation much better than mono.
  • Walking baits – the lack of stretch from braid really helps create a great walking action.

When to Use Mono for Topwater

Monofilament is great for topwater because it floats, is mostly clear, and has some stretch. Being clear really helps for baits you fish slower or on a stop and go retrieve. The stretch gives you a bit of a shock absorber and helps keep the fish hooked.

With topwater strikes being so visual, many anglers set the hook to quickly which prevents them from getting a good hookup. The added stretch of mono slows the hookset slightly and really helps in those instances.

Using mono as a leader with a braided mainline give you the best of both worlds. The braid gives you extra casting distance and sensitivity to work the bait better. The mono leader gives you the low visibility and slight shock absorption.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fish topwater all day?

Topwater can work throughout the day but midday when the sun is high you need to focus on shaded areas.

Can you fish topwater on a windy day or in choppy water?

Topwater can work great during windy days or in choppy water. When the water surface is agitated go with topwater lures with more aggressive splashing action like buzzbaits, ploppers, or prop baits.

What temperature will bass hit topwater?

Bass start hitting topwater lures when water temperatures reach 68 degrees or higher.

Should I use a swivel with topwater lures?

Swivels aren’t required for topwater but they can help prevent ploppers from flipping over.