I’m guessing if you could survey all the bass fishermen in the world as to what their favorite lure is - the most popular answer would be some sort of topwater.
The excitement of a topwater bite definitely leaves a lasting impression, which is why I can clearly remember casting a floating popper with a Zebco 33 off my Pop’s dock at Iatt Lake back when I was about 7 years old.
Today, a topwater popper remains one of my favorite lures, and for a couple good reasons … now is the perfect time to tie one on.
First, bluegill and other small sunfish species are spawning throughout much of the U.S. right now, and as they make and protect their shallow beds, bass seem to know they’re easy pickins. So when the bass move super shallow to eat them, a bluegill colored popper jerked calmly over their heads seems pretty irresistible to aggressively feeding bass.
Much the same, shad are spawning around shallow vegetation and rocks along the shoreline early each morning in a lot of U.S. fisheries right now. Shad also become a really easy meal for bass, and a topwater popper in a white/silver color can be really awesome at sunrise.
I like to use 15-pound monofilament on my topwater poppers because it floats, unlike fluorocarbon that sinks and detracts from the lure’s action.
A 7’ medium action baitcasting rod with a really soft tip is my stick of choice because you’ll get better hook-ups without ripping the lure from the bass’s mouth when you set the hook. Plus, a slightly softer tip rod allows the bass to engulf the popper a little better before you have time to jerk.
As far as the action of the lure – keep it simple. With your rod tip pointed downward at about the 7 o’clock position, make two short jerks, allow the ripples to disappear from around the lure, then jerk twice subtlety again – and be ready- you never know when an awesome explosion is about to occur on the surface.
The best news is, while topwater popper action is beginning to get great right now in late spring around the sunfish and shad spawn, it’ll remain one of the best early morning and late evening lures in your tackle box all summer long.