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How to choose the right topwater

Topwater lures come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and actions – so how as a typical fisherman do you know which one to grab for certain situations? Quick answer is you probably don’t, you just tie on the most reliable option you must save time and energy. Topwater fishing has been my Rubik’s cube for many years and I have developed a simple three step approach to identify the perfect lure for your situation. The three steps are extremely simple and can just about be identified at the boat ramp; they consist of water clarity, wind, and type of baitfish.

  1. Water Clarity

Hands down water clarity is the most important factor in choosing a topwater lure because the clarity provides detail in how shallow the bass might be and what type of color will best show up to them. I put water clarity into three separate types that allow you to easily pick out options.

  • Clear – This is when water has above 8 inches of visibility. Clear water means the fish can see a long way and accurately check out your lure, so it must be lifelike in appearance and action! For clear water scenarios walking topwater lures tend to work best and in translucent baitfish patterns that resemble shad or have a chrome tint to them. The Super Spook Jr in Nickel comes to mind often!
  • Stained – Stained water is the in between color of water that is anywhere from 2-8 inches in visibility and typically has a slightly off colored stain to it. In this clarity bass can still see well but you can go with more opaque colors to fool them. Color options such as bone shad patterns like the Heddon Pop N Image in Threadfin Shad work great!
  • Dirty – This water example is easy; it is the dirty swampy water you see in river systems that has almost no visibility. In this type of water bass are typically close to the shoreline so baits like a popper tend to the be the best topwater options. I go with bold patterns such as the BOOYAH Boss Pop in Bone Shiner to provide a bright silhouette and disturbing action to draw bass up.


  1. Wind

Wind is hands down probably the most important factor to any fishing day, but even more so when looking for a great topwater bite. Bass can bite with wind or without it, you just have to tailor the appropriate action to the amount of wind you have.

  • No wind – If the lake or river you are on seems to be pretty calm you must keep your action calm as well. This typically means nothing that pushes up too much water or has an extremely loud rattle system. Bass are very keen when the water is undisturbed so I stick with options such as the Cotton Cordell Tail Weighted Boy Howdy that has a very slight action that can call bass up from almost any depth.
  • Wind – Now for days that the wind is blowing the options need to be loud and have tons of action! This is because the water is disturbed and the bass need something to draw them to the lure. The best options for this scenario are ones that move a lot of water such as the Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper or Heddon Chug N Spook.
  1. Baitfish

This third point might seem pretty simple, but it isn’t. Most people know that bass are feeding on some type of minnows near the surface and that is what causes them to blow up on a topwater. But the bass have a specific type or types of minnow they are going after on each fishery and you need to work your best to match up to these. You can typically check out google for some options of what types of minnows are in the lake or river you are fishing to give you a good starting place. You need to match the baitfish in color and most importantly in size. Size is the utmost importance because bass are notable for avoiding to big or small of a topwater because they are so keyed on bait as they are schooling near the surface. You can find lure patterns to match virtually all baitfish forage out there such as threadfin shad, gizzard shad, or any of the many types of bluegill.

Next time you are preparing for a trip to throw topwater just remember these three steps for some sure fire fun!

All the lures mentioned in todays blog can be found at!