Fall: Noting that he doesn't devote a cool autumn day to fishing for 20 bites, Murray said he's fishing for big bass that are eating big baits, so he goes big with a 5-inch Super Spook.
"I'm fishing for a 6- to 8-pound bass and she can swallow 1/3 of his body weight in one bite," Murray said. "She's not chasing little bitty minnows. She wants to make one kill and have a belly full."
Summarizing his bait selection process, Murray said: "We're just following the food chain as we come through the year and we want to match the size of the baitfish that the bass will be eating. It doesn't matter if you're fishing in Minnesota or Mississippi — it all works that way. The seasons pass by faster than they do in the south, so you really have to be keyed on it in the north."
For that classic walk-the-dog saunter, Murray finds a 6 1/2- to 7-foot soft-action rod works best. He wants plenty of fish-whipping backbone, but Murray said he wants his topwater rod's tip to swing a good 5-6 inches when he shakes it with a bait reeled tight. The benefit of this softer rod, he said, is action imparted to the bait.
"All you're trying to do is hit the end of the slack on the presentation," he said. "You're not trying to jerk the lure; you're just making it change directions. When it changes directions with a hard pop on a soft rod, it sounds like a fish striking. That sound draws fish to it."
Murray finds that the stretch of monofilament best serves his topwater action, but he's not overly concerned with reel speed. Control comes from the winding cadence, so a slow or fast reel will suffice.
Most of his topwater fishing is done during the day, so Murray does his best to match his lure colors to the local forage. Bass will hit a topwater after dark, but that can get a little (forgive me) "spooky."