Hiro Naito throws mostly topwater lures for bass in large part because he likes watching the fish attack his lure. He also finds that he catches a better grade of bass, on average, with surface lures than with other approaches. Topwater advantages go far beyond those virtues, though, and many advantages apply to anglers of all skill levels.

“A topwater lure is actually great for learning to catch fish with artificial lures,” Naito said. “It’s two dimensional, so you can totally eliminate having to figure out how deep the fish are or how deep your lure is running.”

A simplified, two-dimensional thought process allows you to really concentrate on the locations that are most apt to hold fish and on making the best presentations past those locations.

If you cast parallel to a weedline, for example, and there’s a spot along that line where it makes a slight point, that is a high-percentage fish-holding spot. With topwater, you know exactly when your lure reaches that spot and can do something a little different to trigger a strike at exactly the right moment.

Because everything your lure does is on the surface, where you can see it and hear it, you can watch how everything you do with your rod and reel impacts the behavior of the lure you are using. The speed of your retrieve, the sharpness and length of rod sweeps or twitches and the amount of slack (if any) in the line impact the way a lure moves and the sound it makes. The capacity to experiment and directly observe how variances affect the movement and sound can be hugely beneficial.

Closely related, with a topwater approach, you get to see how the fish respond. Every strike is visible, so you can see which presentations prompt the most strikes and exactly how the fish are positioned. If you pay attention to details, those observations can really help you pattern the fish.

In truth, you often can see more than those fish that actually strike your lure. Because your lure is on the surface, fish that follow it or dart out and turn back tend to be just beneath the surface, so if the water is even somewhat clear, you often see those fish. Wear polarized sunglasses and pay attention the area around your lure. Also watch for surface swells. A fish that rolls toward your bait but doesn’t commit often will create a swell just behind your lure.

Such sightings tell you to make a follow-up cast (maybe with a different lure) and they help you pattern the fish. Seeing how fish respond to lures and the spots they come from also builds on your understanding of baas behavior and can make you a better angler overall.

Of course for all the practical advantages of topwater fishing, it’s important to remember the first thing mentioned. It’s just plain fun watching bass blow up on lures. Since fishing is intended to be fun, if you can catch fish beneath the surface or on top, why not catch them the way that is the most fun?