Ah yes, topwater fishing. Everyone’s favorite. There’s nothing else quite like watching a bass come up and explode on your whopper plopper or frog. And if watching bass blow up on your lure wasn’t enough to get the blood pumping already, here’s another bonus. They’re ALL big fish lures. Yes when the bite is on, some of the biggest bass in the lake can be caught off of topwater lures. And I can attest to that from experience. Nearly ALL of the bass that I’ve caught that were over 10 pounds have been caught off of topwater lures! And it very well may be what you get your personal best bass off of also. But I have one tip to share with you about topwater fishing first before we begin with the best lures, and that is…
Waiting to set the hook!
While seeing a bass come and blow up on your topwater lure can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. In all my time of guiding and taking people fishing I have seen more people miss fish off of topwater lures than anything else. And it’s because they saw the fish blow up and set the hook right away. Just because that fish blew up on it doesn’t mean he has it! So it’s very important to hesitate for just a second before you set the hook. You’ll put a lot more fish in the net. So, now that we got that over with let’s get started with what everyone’s here for.
If I could only use one topwater lure, it would be a Heddon Spook. There’s just something about these lures that just catch fish. The only issue with them is that they are not for beginners. In order to work these lures right you have to make them do what’s called “walking the dog”. It’s where you twitch the lure back and forth like you would a fluke or jerkbait but more steadily. It will make it scoot back and forth perfectly just like a scared injured baitfish on top the water. That unique kind of erratic jerkbait/fluke topwater action is why these lures tend to catch more than any other topwater. You can learn how to use one of these lures by simply watching a YouTube video on how to use a spook. One great video that goes over the spook is by Bass Resource. You can watch it on YouTube by clicking here
The Spook works best in open water or close to grass edges where it’s treble hooks won’t get caught up in any grass. It also shines in the fall when the bass begin to school up and feed on shad on top the water. Anytime I see a few bass blow up in open water areas, this is my go to lure. It is a staple that everyone should learn how to use and have in their topwater box.
Now while the original Heddon spook is a classic that you can’t go wrong with, my actual favorite spook style bait is a white Yo-Zuri 3DB. It’s “walk the dog” action is unlike any other and is so easy to use, I rarely use any other type of spook style bait anymore. But just so you can choose what you’re favorite is, here’s Bass Pro Shops links to both my favorite Spook and Yo-Zuri 3DB.
2. Whopper Plopper
This next one is a favorite of many. The Whopper Plopper. There’s something about that gurgle it makes on top the water that’s just as tantalizing to us as it is the fish. It’s one of my favorites to use, and is on this list because just like with a frog, at anytime you can catch a giant. And if they’re around your spot, a 10+ pounder.
All topwaters can get you a big one, but you’re going to find that with any category of lures that their are just some that tend to get bigger fish more often than others. And the Whopper Plopper is one of them.
One of the great things about them also is how easy they are to use. All you do is cast it out and steadily reel it back to the boat. That’s it. You want to maintain a good steady speed that keeps that blade on the back throwing water. But not too fast. Just nice and steady. One thing I’ve noticed people like to do is pause it occasionally. The only thing this does in my experience, is make it so you don’t catch as many fish. So keep it moving! Even if a fish hits it and misses it keep reeling it. It’s the best way to get them to hit it again. It’s the way this thing looks like a panicked baitfish running from a bass on top the water that’s the allure for the fish. So keep that allure going at all times.
The Whopper Plopper is used in much the same places as a spook. Open water areas or close to grass lines where bass are chasing bait. In fact I typically use them in tandem with each other to find out what they want to bite best. And if they’re wanting the whopper plopper, stick with it, because it will typically get you the bigger bass.
There’s only two colors I ever use and that’s white and the bone color. Bone when the waters dirtier and white when it’s cleaner. And I typically use the big 5″ one because I’m hunting for big fish when I use it. It’s that simple. Here’s a Bass Pro link to my favorite Whopper Plopper. Now go get some of your own giant blow ups on it.
Finally we’ve come to what would be most people’s favorite topwater lure. The frog. When you think of topwater fishing in Florida (or anywhere with thick grass) you think of frog fishing. While the whopper plopper takes the prize for catching big bass in the open water, the frog certainly takes the crown for catching big bass in the grass.
There is without a doubt been more 7+ pound bass that have been taken off a frog in Florida than any other topwater lure. And that’s where these lures shine, in the grass. Where the spook and whopper plopper can’t go is where the frog goes. Hydrilla mats and edges, lily pads, Kissimmee grass, reeds, this is where the frog is meant to be used, and where the big bass it catches reside.
While there are many great frogs out there like the Spro’s that many people use, my favorite are without a doubt the Terminator frogs like the one pictured above. The unique body style of the Terminator frogs make it the absolute easiest to “walk the dog” with. Which is how you’re going to want to use it (just like the spook). And the action a Terminator frog has, is game changing.
Now their are two different types of hollow body frogs. There’s the regular walking frog like the one pictured above and there’s the popping frog, which like the name suggests, pops the water. Both work, I’ve found that the popping frogs work best at calling the fish up in dirtier water and the walking frogs works best when the waters cleaner. But I’ve had both work in either situation so it’s best to try both and see what they want best in the area you’re fishing. Fishing is all about experimenting because things are constantly changing.
I keep the colors simple like everything else. I use black in low light or cloudy conditions and one with a whitish/brown belly like the brown leopard color when the suns out. Here’s links to both the walking and popping frog I use.
Chances are if you bass fish in Florida you already own a frog, but if not, you should definitely pick one up.
4. Horny Toad
The Zoom Horny Toad, like the hollow body frog, excels around cover and vegetation. But the horny toad has one special characteristic that none of the other topwater lures on this list have. And that is that it sinks when you quit reeling it. This feature is key to getting more bites from finicky fish that don’t want to hit topwater aggressively.
The way you rig a Zoom Horny Toad is the same as any other soft plastic lure, you texas rig it. You can rig it on any regular worm hook but the best way is to use a hook with a screw lock that you can easily screw the lure in and rig up weedless.
This is an extremely easy and versatile topwater lure to use. All you do is throw it out and reel it back in keeping the lure on top of the water and the tails kicking. But as mentioned above the key to this bait is that it sinks and its perfect for catching finicky fish that are missing or not hitting other topwaters right cause when they miss it you can stop it and let it sink right down to them and they will almost always hit it again.
I’ll also just stop it and let it sink when it gets to the edge of the grass or in a hole and its perfect for getting both the aggressive topwater fish and the ones who maybe don’t want to hit topwater but will hit it as soon as it falls.
The speed of the retrieve makes it a great search bait for finding topwater fish in the grass. You can keep moving and casting with it until you find some fish and then slow down and fish a hollow body frog or keep catching them on the horn toad.
Here’s a link to the best Zoom Horny Toad
5. Prop Bait
A prop bait or Devils Horse is an all time classic for topwater fishing Florida. Back in the day this was the only topwater bait anyone would use. And for good reason too, it can catch them. While the prop bait can catch fish year round, it definitely excels during the spawn here.
Fishing around bass beds or pre spawn areas, this lure can be deadly. For some reason when fished in shallower water for fish looking to spawn this lure just pisses them off and bass have to hit it.
Like the horny toad, it’s extremely easy to use also. All you do is throw it out and slowly twitch it back. Much like a popper but slower. The key is working it slowly to keep it around the beds and aggravate the fish into biting.
Now the main difference in this bait though from all the others we talked about is with the others you can rig them onto straight braided line if you would like. With a prop bait you can’t. The prop in the front will constantly catch braid and tangle it into a mess. So to save you a headache you’ll want to either tie and mono leader on or just use straight mono line on your reel.
With a properly rigged prop bait you can have a ton of fun fishing around spawning bass. Here’s a link to the classic prop bait the Devils Horse.
And those are the top 5 best topwater lures for fishing Florida. Now go and get yourself a new personal best on topwater!