Inside Sands’ topwater tacklebox

Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Cole Sands reached the top of the sport by fishing all levels of B.A.S.S. competitions. The Tennessean began at the high school level and won a Bassmaster College Championship while at Bryan College. 
Just like anyone else, topwaters are a favorite bait for the Tennessee angler. Sands follows a systematic approach for when to use topwaters on a regular basis. 
“My favorite times for topwaters are during a shad spawn, in midsummer into September on grassy lakes and whenever spotted bass are surface feeding,” he said. Specifically, Sands maximizes his strike potential during a shad spawn, for early postspawn bass that remain shallow to feed upon the spawning shad. Alternatively, he finds topwater success just before vegetation tops out on the surface. Here are his favorite patterns and colors for topwater lures 
Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 135F (Real Blueback Herring)
Sands likes this topwater walker for its large, single internal cadence rattle that makes it ideal for the side-walking action of the classic walking bait. 
“I use this pattern on sunny, windy days, and also for spotted bass in lakes where blueback herring were introduced, as it mimics the color pattern of that favorite forage,” Sands said. 
Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 110F (Prism Chartreuse Silver)
The downsized version of the proven 135F is an inch shorter and a 1/2-ounce lighter to better target pressured fish and those keying on smaller-sized forage. 
“Yo-Zuri designed topwaters to match the sizes of baitfish being fed upon by bass at any given time, and this downsized version of the 135F does the trick,” Sands said. “That is crucial in early fall, and I also like this color for smallmouth, as the chrome adds flash for cloudy conditions when they like to feed on top.” 
Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper (Bone)
“I like this bait for calmer surface conditions when a subtle approach is necessary to get bites,” Sands said. “Bone is always preferred on cloudy, rainy days and especially during fall.”
Yo-Zuri 3DR-X Pencil 75F (Prism Ghost Shad)
“This is a small shad imitator that gives you a perfect choice when the bass are feeding on smaller forage,” Sands said. 
Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper 135F (Clear)
“The 3DB Pencil Popper comes in 10 colors for a very good reason, and that is to match the sky conditions and to mimic the color patterns of the baitfish at any given time of the year,” Sands said. “This translucent pattern is really good on sunny, clear days with calm water conditions.”