Today we are going to continue the top water baits study by looking at ways to use the next two types: the poppers and those with the props on either both ends or the tail end.
Trust me, I’m not the expert, but I don’t mind telling you what I have done to be successful with both types.
Poppers come in myriad choices from hard baits to soft plastics. The key is knowing when to use which and how to work each successfully. My favorite hard body is made Rebel and I have been using it for years and years.
The Rebel Pop-R comes in assorted sizes as well and I believe you only need two sizes in this bait. The largest is the ¾ ounce and the other is ¼ ounce. The largest one comes with a rear skirted hook. I love the skirt but not the hooks. I generally replace the hooks with a better quality and one size larger on the rear and keep the belly one the same size. The rear one I do go back with a skirted hook. This bait can make one heck of a chug if you do it right and it will draw a fish’s attention from a good distance away.
Here is how I work it. Make your cast just past the target you believe is holding a bass. When it lands let it sit until the ripples move away. With your rod tip down toward the water, give it a quick flip upward. Your line has sunk while you were waiting for the ripples to move away from the bait. With this quick upward flip, the line will pull the bait forward and down creating one heck of a chugging sound. Reel in the slack and be ready. When the bass hits, count to two and set the hook, again by bringing the tip of the rod up and to the right or left depending on which hand you cast with. If you miss him, reel in and throw a plastic follow up bait right back to where he hit. If you didn’t miss — congrats!
I know your next question is going to be, ”How hard should you chug the bug?” Well that depends on the depth of the water you are fishing. If you are fishing the shallows a hard chug could just scare the fish away, so you want a soft chug like I described above. If you’re fishing a hump in the lake and you are trying to call the fish to the bait a harder chug is better.
Play with it, the fish will tell you what they want.
In the soft plastic poppers Bobby Lane has sold me is the Southern Lure’s Scum Frog popper. It looks like a lot of the soft plastic frogs, but its mouth is cupped to make it chug when you want it to. I work it basically the same way I do a hard plastic popper, but sometimes I’ll even walk its back to the boat like you do a spook type bait. This bait is phenomenal in the scum that builds up around shoreline points and pockets. And with the weed less hooks it will come right through it without messing up the action of the bait.
Do I have others? Sure, but these two are the ones that have produced the most and biggest fish I have caught on poppers.
Prop or bladed
OK, now let’s talk about prop or bladed top waters. Like those above there are hundreds of types and brands for bladed top waters. I have bought so many that my wife says I’m a top water maniac. Well, she’s right. I am. Today, however, I am only going to cover the two that have produced the best for me and will do it by single prop then multiple prop baits.
The best single prop top water that I use is the Torpedo series. They make it in three sizes and five colors. I use the largest two only. The 1/8-ounce teeny torpedo is hard to cast with a bait casting rod because of its shape and weight.
I start with the baby torpedo — 3/8 ounce and 2½” length. This has been the most productive for me. I have it in three colors, Black Shiner, Shad G and Bullfrog. Water color determines which one I start with.
If real clear then Black Shiner, if moderately stained the Shad G; if stained then Bullfrog.
I like to work the Torpedoes two ways. First I try the rip/stop method. In this technique I’ll cast it beyond the target, let it sit till the ripples move away rod tip down, then rip my rod tip to the right or left, depending on which way the target is located and the stop it right beside the target, take up slack line quickly and be ready.
The other method is to cast past the target and do short zips using only the rod tip and pop the rod tip quickly and walk it past the target: zip-zip-zip ... stop ... zip-zip-zip. In this technique the hit generally comes on one of the short stops so be ready.
I downsize to the smaller torpedo when the fish get really picky and will not bust the larger one. OK, I know when to switch when they consistently bust at the larger one but will not take it. Downsizing changes the overall look and profile of the bait to the bass and can produce strikes when the big one will not.
Like all the others, there are hundreds of twin prop baits out there as well. You know those sick baits with a prop on the front and one on the back as well. My favorite in these is the Smithwick Devils Horse. Like the Torpedo it comes in multiple sizes ranging from 6-inch magnum to a 4½-inch mainstay. I bought the magnum years ago and I think Smithwick has stopped making it. What I generally throw is again determined by water clarity and weather. If overcast I go with darker colors if sunny lighter. If clear the chrome/black back, stained white/black stripes, real stained tiger roan.
I work the devils horse in a zip-zip-zip ... stop ... zip-zip-zip manner. In this technique again the strike generally comes on the brief halt.
I know your next question is going to be which to use when. They are so similar it is really hard to say. If the fish are hitting fat body lures, then I go with the Torpedo series. If the bass are preferring the skinny baits then I go with the devils horse. But you can bet when I start out one of each is tied on a rod until I figure it out.
All I can tell you is try both until the fish tells you what style bait they prefer that day. Once you have determined the style stick with it for the day because tomorrow they may want the opposite. That’s the thing about bass fishing there are so many variables and different baits it’s always a mental challenge to go out there and figure it out.
Well when you do, send your pics to Hook_up66@yahoo.com and tell me how you figured it out. Maybe your pics will show up in one of my future article. Take those Prop Baits and catch a big ’un.
Jasper Johnson is the Copperas Cove Bass Club secretary. To contact him about the club or for any questions, call 318-218-0358 or email Hook_up@yahoo.com.