It ranks among the hardest things in fishing, but if you can master it, you’ll catch more fish. When a fish blows up on your Arbogast Hula Popper and you don’t feel the fish, just keep working the lure exactly how you had been. If it’s a violent strike or comes from a spot where you were really anticipating a strike, everything in you will want to set the hook hard. If you don’t feel the fish, though, that usually means it missed the target, and setting the hook will only cause you to yank the lure away from a fish that might still want to eat.

Ideally, you don’t want to speed up the lure, slow it down or do anything else different. Just keep swimming it or popping it or whatever you were doing to draw the initial strike and remain ready. Often bass will attack again, and when they do, the second strike tends to be more efficient.

If the fish doesn’t hit again (or if you jerked the lure from the fish), you have a couple of options for possibly catching that fish. One is to repeat the cast you just made, which usually means casting past the point of the strike and working the same lure back across that spot in the same way.

Often a better plan is to have a weightless YUM Dinger rigged and ready and to pick up your Dinger rod as soon as you finish the initial cast. Instead of repeating the cast and working the lure through the strike zone, though, try to cast it right on top of where the fish attacked and just let it sink. Sometimes fish will attack as soon as the lure hits the water. More often your line will race sideways soon after the Dinger starts to sink.

If you still don’t catch the fish, a final thing that’s always worth doing is to mentally note where the fish struck and to try to determine whether you think it came off a specific piece of cover or structural feature. Move along, but return to the same spot later and make fresh presentations to the same fish with a different lure that you believe is well suited for the location and conditions.

Whether or not you catch the fish, it never hurts to to remember the cast for future topwater presentations. That fish was where it was for a reason, so another might be in the same spot another day.