In the quest for the best topwater lures, you’re looking for a few different features. First, the lure needs to draw attention to itself. Some do this with noise, others do it with visuals.
Second, topwater bass lures need to be able to cut through weeds and dense vegetation, so you’re not getting hung up the whole time. When you combine these two components together, you have yourself a recipe for success.
After decades of fishing and conversations with dozens of anglers over the years, I’ve been able to put together this list of the six best topwater bass lures known to mankind. Let’s dive right in.
Our Reviews Of The Best Topwater Lures
Smithwick Devil’s Horse
This lure cleans house with topwater bass fishing because it’s the perfect imitator of what bass want to eat. The only problem is keeping the weeds off of this thing. The three treble hooks are nice when you hook something, but they’re a challenge to retrieve properly in the slop.
Booyah Pad Crasher Bullfrog
I’m a huge fan of topwater frogs because I think they’re easy to fish, and they clean up well in the weeds. You’ll want to take this to the muckiest waters in your local area and troll the shoreline. Fish using a stop and go method and watch what happens.
Arbogast Hula Popper
These lures are a lot of fun because they create an exciting presentation, they make a lot of noise, and they clean up in the water. If you’re trying to find a topwater bass lure that you can fish almost anywhere, you’ll want to give this one a more in-depth look.
I would recommend shying away from anything smaller than ⅜ ounce in weight because it’ll make it difficult to cast, especially on windy days, and you can’t use a weight or anything since it will mess up the presentation.
If there was ever a lure, I could say, “try it and you’ll like it” – it’s this one. If you’ve ever fished a jitterbug before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. They have a signature sound, and the lures from Arbogast are exceptional quality, so you know you’re getting that here as well.
Heddon Zara Spook
Heddon Fishing Products has an exceptional reputation of producing only the highest-quality lures and gear out there. When you’re unsure of what products to use, it always helps to go with a company that has a strong reputation.
In terms of the lure, it’s a no-brainer. It works. Make sure you understand how to fish topwaters properly, keep in mind the time of day and year, and also use a variable retrieving strategy.
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait
Buzzbaits create a lot of noise, and Booyah is one of my favorite brands, regardless of what type of lure we’re talking about. These act similar to our favorite spinnerbaits, but the main difference is the clacker on the wire. It spins around, creating a loud noise that the bass can’t resist striking.
Heddon Super Spook
If you’re looking for a lure to help clean up in offshore/inshore saltwater fishing, give this one a look. It works great with the walk the dog method because it’s intended to mimic an injured baitfish. So, create a steady followed by erratic presentation, and the bass will not be able to resist it.
The treble hooks are durable and sharp, so they can hold up in the saltwater, and the design and build of the lure itself are meant to stand the test of time. Heddon lures last, and this one will drive the bass crazy.
How to Choose the Best Topwater Lure
There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a topwater lure. Each one of the lures featured in this article has at least one of these components, so you’ll soon understand why they impact the success of your fishing.
The first and most important thing to look for in your lure is something that makes noise. When we look at lures like poppers, jitterbugs, and buzz baits, they all have a noise component. In some way, shape, or form, they create a loud presentation in the water to attract attention.
It’s impossible to say which one is the best because they’re all good in their own way. For example, poppers make a lot of noise when they hit the water, whereas buzz baits only make noise when you retrieve them.
There are different strategies for fishing all of these lures, so you have to keep that in mind and find something that works best for your fishing style.
Now, when we look at a lot of these noisy lures, they don’t offer much to protect you from building up weeds on the bait. This is where lures like the frog come in. This lure is meant to be fished in the weeds because that’s where frogs hang out.
You need to have a way to control weeds when fishing topwaters because most of your best fishing moments will come around or inside weed beds. Bass are most likely to strike the surface in murky and mucky areas, so you’ll want to keep the weeds off your lure; otherwise, you’ll mess up your presentation and likely go home empty-handed.
Having a high-quality hook on your topwater lure is critical to your success. Much of the time, stock hooks that come with the lure are low-quality, and you’ll want to replace them with a better treble hook.
How to Use Topwater Lures: By Type
Now it’s time to talk about the fun stuff. Once you have these lures in your hands, how do you plan on fishing them? These tips will help.
When fishing poppers, it’s important to have a target in mind. You need to know where you want to cast, and ideally, it should be around trees and timber.
Cast using a sharp motion down with the slackline to create as much airtime as possible. What this does is creates a louder pop when you hit the water. Using a heavier line helps with poppers because it creates more weight on end, which also results in a louder sound.
You’ll want to cast these near weed beds but not in them because you have little protection from weeds. Stickbaits work better in open water. Work the lure fast, then slow and twitch it to maximize the amount of noise you make. You can fish these similar to swimbaits.
These types of lures have lost their popularity with the development of many new options, but I still find them to be an excellent topwater bass fishing lure.
Topwater frogs are simple to fish because they’re weedless, and they don’t require an advanced presentation. All you need to do is cast them directly into the weed beds or lily pads and work them using a stop and go method. They usually have a bit of weight behind them, so it’s not difficult to hit the water right where you want.
A spook is one of your standard hard baits. Some have joints in them that make it a bit more complicated, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll just fish it with tight slack using a consistent walk the dog method.
Buzz baits are a mix between spinnerbaits and jigs. They have a jig head with a skirt but the main difference is the clacker on the wire that makes all the noise. You should always have one of these in your tackle box to fish the water’s surface.
Types of Topwater Lures
Topwaters are often misunderstood because many anglers don’t know how to fish them. What they don’t realize is that there are many different topwater baits that they’ve never tried. Consider giving some of these options a try.
- Prop Baits
- Stick Baits
- Topwater Frogs
Topwater Bass Fishing Tips
After decades of experience and talking with many other anglers, I’ve determined these to be the most important tips you need to know about mastering topwater angling.
1. Tie The Right Knot
I cannot stress this enough. Many anglers will overlook this because they don’t think it’s important, and you will pay for it as a result.
What most bass anglers don’t realize is that your presentation has a lot to do with your knot-tying skills.
For example, stick baits move linearly, which requires a tight knot like a Palomar. Poppers are more relaxed, so you should use a loop knot. It’s so important to understand how to tie knots and what line to use with these knots.
2. Mimic The Surroundings
When you’re fishing any type of lure, topwaters included. You always want to take a look around and use that to help determine what type of lure you plan on using. When it’s cold and dreary out, bass slow down, and their metabolism slows down. As a result, they might not bite something moving really fast or if it’s brightly colored.
You want to slow your presentation, size down the lure, and maybe use something a bit more discreet.
Color plays an important role here, as well. When it’s dark or overcast, you would want to use something that isn’t as bright and flashy as you sometimes would prefer to use.
When the sun is shining, it’s warm, and it’s mid-summer, go ahead and use that neon-colored popper, and I guarantee you get a bite the second it hits the water. That’s because the bass are actively feeding, so you created enough attention to get a bite right off the bat.
3. When Not How
Let’s not forget how important it is to understand when to use certain lures. As I said, the current weather and conditions matter, but the time of year is crucial as well. Think about what’s happening here.
Bass are leaving wherever they’re hiding to expose themselves and come to the surface to bite your lure. When would that ever happen if you weren’t fishing there?
When bugs and other insects land on the top of the water.
So, you want to keep that in mind at all times. The best time to fish topwaters is mid-summer when the mornings and evenings are hot. If it’s really windy out, it’s not a good time to fish topwater baits because there is already a lot of disturbance on the water, and the bugs are not there when the wind is blowing hard.
This factor could be a personal opinion, but I find it much more effective to fish topwater lures for bass in the evening versus the morning. I just find that bugs aren’t as prevalent on the water at dawn as they are at dusk.
When you’re searching for the best topwater lure for bass fishing, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
First, it needs to have something to draw attention. Some lures use noise, while others require a specific presentation. Regardless of which option you get, you need one.
Second, you need a way to prevent weeds from building up on the lure. Some like frogs use weedless hooks while others have weed guards.
Lastly, you should have a deliberate presentation in mind. Whether you’re walking the dog, popping it, or keeping it steady. Have something planned for the waters you intend to fish.
It’s always important to understand that a lure will only get you as far as you push yourself. You can have the best lure in the world, but if you don’t understand how to fish it properly, it doesn’t matter how recommended the lure is.
Keep all of these tips, tricks, and recommendations in mind and get out on the water! Good luck!