From time to time I’m asked about what I add to or take away from my lures. I don’t necessarily do a lot of either one of those things, but I do fish with feathers on some of my topwater plugs and on my wake baits. I make those changes as necessary.
We’ll start with wake baits because I think that’s where a lot of anglers don’t realize the importance of a feather or two. I always add a feathered hook to the back of any wake bait, no matter who makes it or where I’m fishing it. It’s a necessity in my mind.
There’s something about that feather trailing behind a wake bait as it swims along on top of the water that attracts bass. I don’t have very many hard and fast rules, but wake bait feathers is one of them.
As for the rest of my topwater lures, I also mostly use feathers on the back hook with one or two exceptions that I’ll talk about in a minute.
Poppers and prop baits almost always need a feathered hook on the back. It makes them look like they’re swimming when you move them forward, and it makes a subtle, tail-like movement when they’re sitting still. It’s like you’re adding a joint to the lure.
The one exception to what I just said is with longer prop baits that have a prop on the back. It seems like the feather sometimes fouls the hook and messes up your presentation, and even when it doesn’t do that it destroys the action of the back prop. On most of those types of lures the back prop is an important part of the attraction so messing it up is a big negative.
What’s a long prop bait is up to the angler. I don’t have a hard and fast rule about that, no specific length or design. I just look at the lure, watch it work with and without a feathered back hook and then make a decision.
When it comes to color I’m a basic kind of guy. White is my go-to color although I do like a few strands of bright, flashy material mixed in with the feathers — but not too much. I think white looks close enough to a baitfish that you can’t go wrong with it.
The only time I go with any other color is when I’m trying to imitate a bream. Then I take a marker and color my feathers black. That seems to make it look more natural.
As far as long feathers, short feathers, skinny feathers or wide feathers are concerned I don’t think it makes any difference at all. Nor do I think the kind of feathers matters. Bird or duck is all the same. If you worry about that kind of stuff, you’re giving fish too much credit.
There are several feathered replacement hooks around. I won’t say anything about any brand other than that I use Owner. They are well-made and they hold up pretty well as the day or week wears along.
I’m not real big on customizing baits. Most of them are pretty good right out of the box. But when it comes to feathers on my topwater lures, I think differently. A feather or two can make a big difference in your catch, especially in clear water conditions.