Drowning Rover

Upshaw expands out a little bit from there. The Strike Pro pattern known as “ate-o-ate” (black back, bronze sides and an orange belly) is his favorite in the prespawn, although he’ll switch to the translucent grey ghost when it’s very sunny. In the fall, he dotes on chrome with a black back to imitate fleeing shad, especially if it’s cloudy. “It gives off a lot of flash under all conditions,” he explains. Like Mason, he also utilizes a pearl version when shad are prevalent. Finally, he uses a color Strike Pro calls “pink-a-licious.” “It just stands out so much,” he says, and in addition to being deadly on hungry largemouth, it should be a standout for smallmouth who tend to key in on garish colors.

When the topwater bite becomes less-than-perfect, rather than make a wholesale switch to a spinnerbait or swimbait, sometimes it can pay to take the same walking action and just place it subsurface. As Mason says, “The fish today see everything. They get absolutely hammered, so you have to adapt. Sometimes that means a one-knocker rattlebait versus a standard rattlebait. Or maybe it means picking up an old-school bait.” In this case, it means borrowing from the saltwater and toothy critter arsenals and ratcheting your topwaters down a notch.

The Bigger The Treat, The Badder The Bite

In addition to the SubWalk, Rapala makes the lipless Glidin’ Rap, which as the name suggests has more of a gliding action than a hard snapping, side-to-side gait, with predictable swings elicited by both twitches or gentle pulls of the rod.

Available in both 4 3/4-inch and 6-inch sizes, with beefy 2/0 trebles, it’s become popular among the Northern pike and muskellunge chasers, but along the way, the toothy critter aficionados have landed lots of big bass on it.

“We came out with it a year too late,” Fisher laments. “It would have been deadly [in the Elite Series events] at Falcon and Amistad around flooded brush.”

While the SubWalk is typically thrown in the 2 3/4- and 3 1/2-inch sizes, it is available in a 6-inch, 2-ounce jumbo model.

Originally published November 2012