We all have our preferred baits. But I think most fishermen will agree that there is nothing more exciting than catching a nice bass on top water baits.
However, like all baits there are myriad types and actions that we all have tried to learn and be successful with. So I think the best way to approach it is to go from easiest to hardest and lay out what techniques and strategies to employ when using these top water baits.
I will try to cover at least two types in each article and share with you what I have learned over the last 30-something years of doing it. Not to mention all that I have read about it.
I believe we would all agree that probably the easiest top water to use is the buzz bait.
You know, that big bladed thing we throw out and retrieve in over the top of grass and brush and hope the big bass lying underneath sees it and swims up under it and inhales it. Simply cast and retrieve, right?
How many times have you had a bass blow up on your buzz bait and you set the hook and come back empty? Well, now let’s look at what may have caused this miss.
Maybe you got too excited and jerked it right out of her mouth. Well, don’t feel too bad — we have all done it. Another reason may have been because it was a “short strike” where the bass was keyed in on the skirt or trailer and not the main body and blade. How do we fix that?
Employ a trailer hook. Leave the plastic trailer on the main hook and add a small trailer hook so it’s behind the plastic trailer you have attached to the main hook. This will help significantly in short strikes.
Now let us talk about retrieve. Cast and reel? Some do and are successful, but what I have found is that an erratic retrieve will catch twice to three times as many bass as does the simple reel in retrieve.
What do I mean by erratic? Well, when I cast and the bait hits the water, I’ll start the normal retrieve and make about four to five turns on the reel, then I’ll jerk my rod tip to the right or left quickly which speeds up the bait considerably for a few feet and then resume the normal retrieve for four or five more reel turns. Then I jerk it the opposite way and resume. I do that all the way back to the boat. I have most of my hits immediately after one of the jerks, as the bait lingers for a second before you start your normal retrieve.
Another technique that I have seen is similar to slow rolling a spinner bait. You cast it out and begin your normal retrieve and the slow it down to where the bait sinks just beneath the surface and you can see the wake it leaves. My older brother used to use this technique when the bass were just rolling at it and not hitting.
I know you have read about how a Colorado blade puts out more vibration than a willow blade. Well, just think how much vibration that turning buzz bait blade is putting out. It’s kind of like the difference between a whisper and a shout.
Now let’s talk about “rippin” a buzz bait. When you hear the word “rippin,” the first thing that comes to mind is speed cranking, right? Well, if you have ever tried that with a buzz bait, what happens? The bait just turns on its side and slides across the water.
I don’t know about you, but I have never caught one that way. What I’m talking about is casting out the buzz bait and letting it sink a few feet, then Jerking your rod tip enough to bring it just to the surface of the water and quickly pointing back at the bait and reeling fast to take up the slack. Let it sink again on a tight line and rip it again, all the way back to the boat. This will quickly work on you but it’s another method to get the bass’ attention.
Now you have three techniques. Try combining the three and see what it produces for you!
I told you I was going to cover at least two types of baits in each article from easiest to hardest. So what do you think is the next easiest? Right, the wobble baits like the Jitterbug or the Livingston Walkin Boss II. You throw them out and wobble them back to the boat, right?
If you have tried either of these baits walking it back at a steady wobble retrieve may catch one that’s awful hungry now and then. I prefer the wobble and wait method. Cast your bait to the target. When it lands let it sit until all the ripples move completely away from the bait. Take your rod tip and make the bait do only one wobble and let it sit again, but be ready.
If the bass still has not hit reel it slowly for about three to four wobbles then let it sit again until all the ripples move completely away then do it again like that until your back to the boat. Select the next target and repeat the process.
This is slow fishing but I have caught a ton of them using this method and it scares you every time. The hits using this technique are very violent and the bass is not only trying to eat it but kill it at the same time.
Another technique is “spittin.” Cast your bait to the target. Let it sit till the ripples clear away. Lift your rod tip high and twitch it so the front blades splashes the water forward of the bait. Let it settle again for a few seconds and spit it again, let it set for a few second reel it three or four wobbles and then repeat the spittin, till you get back to the boat. Think the spittin makes the bass mad and the hit it as a reaction bite.
The next one is unique and I just learned about it and haven’t really worked it hard yet, but there is a lot of merit in the technique. Cast beyond your target. Wobble it to the target then take your rod tip and plunge it straight down to cause the nose of the wobbler to dive under the surface and make a huge bubble, then let it sit until all ripples move a good ways away from the bait. Plunge your tip again and let the ripples all clear away. If the bass hasn’t hit by the second plunge then work it normally back to the boat with a pause after every fourth or fifth wobble.
In my next article, we will cover the use of the prop baits and darters.
OK, there are you two techniques to go try out with your top water buzz bait and wobble baits. Let me know how successful you were by sending me an email, with the pics, to Hook_up@yahoo.com. I may show your pics in a future article. So go out there and catch an 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.