Gear

Pros’ favorite topwaters

Elite Series pros share their fave for a topwater bite.

<p>Scott Ashmore presents his three pet topwater baits, a Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog Jr., a Rebel Super Pop-R and a Heddon Super Spook Jr.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Scott Ashmore presents his three pet topwater baits, a Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog Jr., a Rebel Super Pop-R and a Heddon Super Spook Jr.
<p>Ashmore claims that the bass engulf the Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog Jr. more easily, which results in fewer missed strikes. He fishes it on 50-pound Seagaur Kanzen braided line.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Ashmore claims that the bass engulf the Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog Jr. more easily, which results in fewer missed strikes. He fishes it on 50-pound Seagaur Kanzen braided line.
<p>The Heddon Super Spook Jr. casts a mile on 30-pound braid and has a low pitch tone that bass love, claims Ashmore.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The Heddon Super Spook Jr. casts a mile on 30-pound braid and has a low pitch tone that bass love, claims Ashmore.
<p>The longer Super Pop-R casts well, walks easily and has nice “blip” claims Ashmore.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The longer Super Pop-R casts well, walks easily and has nice “blip” claims Ashmore.
<p>Jonathon VanDam (JVD) is ready to do battle with his favorite topwaters, Strike King's KVD Sexy Dawg and KVD Sexy Frog, and the Yellow Magic Popper.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Jonathon VanDam (JVD) is ready to do battle with his favorite topwaters, Strike King's KVD Sexy Dawg and KVD Sexy Frog, and the Yellow Magic Popper.
<p>The KVD Sexy Frog walks well and has a soft body for good hookups, points out JVD.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The KVD Sexy Frog walks well and has a soft body for good hookups, points out JVD.
<p>“The Yellow Magic makes better spits and splashes without bubbling the surface,” JVD says. He obviously likes switching to red hooks.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - “The Yellow Magic makes better spits and splashes without bubbling the surface,” JVD says. He obviously likes switching to red hooks.
<p>The best thing about Strike King's KVD Sexy Dawg is how easily it walks, JVD claims.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The best thing about Strike King's KVD Sexy Dawg is how easily it walks, JVD claims.
<p>Casey Ashley is big on topwaters, especially the original Lunker Lure, the XCalibur Zell Pop and Lucky Craft's 115 Gunfish.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Casey Ashley is big on topwaters, especially the original Lunker Lure, the XCalibur Zell Pop and Lucky Craft's 115 Gunfish.
<p>Ashley claims that Lucky Craft's 115 Gunfish is a great all-around stickbait that catches bass anywhere. Note the red hooks that Ashley has switched to.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Ashley claims that Lucky Craft's 115 Gunfish is a great all-around stickbait that catches bass anywhere. Note the red hooks that Ashley has switched to.
<p>“The XCalibur Zell Pop is the only popper I throw,” Ashley says. “You can pop it slow or chug it fast and it won't go under.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - “The XCalibur Zell Pop is the only popper I throw,” Ashley says. “You can pop it slow or chug it fast and it won't go under.”
<p>The 3/8-ounce Lunker Lure buzzbait has long been a mainstay in Ashley's topwater bass arsenal. “I love the whistling sound the blade makes,” he says.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The 3/8-ounce Lunker Lure buzzbait has long been a mainstay in Ashley's topwater bass arsenal. “I love the whistling sound the blade makes,” he says.
<p>Kelley Jaye with a handful of his top topwater baits, the Gambler Big EZ, a Lucky Craft Sammy and an original Storm Chug Bug.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Kelley Jaye with a handful of his top topwater baits, the Gambler Big EZ, a Lucky Craft Sammy and an original Storm Chug Bug.
<p>Jaye rigs the Gambler Big EZ with a big hook and a light plastic bullet “sinker” and retrieves it across the surface. “The paddle tail plops the water like a buzzbait,” he says.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Jaye rigs the Gambler Big EZ with a big hook and a light plastic bullet “sinker” and retrieves it across the surface. “The paddle tail plops the water like a buzzbait,” he says.
<p>Here’s a closer look at the “jointed” Gambler Big EZ that produces heavy bass for Jaye when it fishes it on top.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Here’s a closer look at the “jointed” Gambler Big EZ that produces heavy bass for Jaye when it fishes it on top.
<p>Jaye goes with the Sammy when he wants to cover a lot of water and pull bass up from the depths.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Jaye goes with the Sammy when he wants to cover a lot of water and pull bass up from the depths.
<p>Jaye dotes on the original Chug Bug, which did not have the internal weights that come in the newer models. “The older ones are more subtle,” Jaye says. “They're great in shallow water.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Jaye dotes on the original Chug Bug, which did not have the internal weights that come in the newer models. “The older ones are more subtle,” Jaye says. “They're great in shallow water.”
<p>James Elam never leaves home without these topwater baits in his bass boat. They include the Heddon One Knocker Spook, the Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog 65 and a large, discontinued Rebel Pop-R.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - James Elam never leaves home without these topwater baits in his bass boat. They include the Heddon One Knocker Spook, the Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog 65 and a large, discontinued Rebel Pop-R.
<p>Elam refurbishes old Pop-Rs with new hooks and a custom paint job from Bait Works Custom Paint. “That popper just walks better,” he says.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Elam refurbishes old Pop-Rs with new hooks and a custom paint job from Bait Works Custom Paint. “That popper just walks better,” he says.
<p>“You can cast the Bronzeye 65 Frog where other topwater baits won't go without snagging,” Elam says. “I'm after big bass when I fish it. So, I don't see the need to fish a smaller frog.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - “You can cast the Bronzeye 65 Frog where other topwater baits won't go without snagging,” Elam says. “I'm after big bass when I fish it. So, I don't see the need to fish a smaller frog.”
<p>The One Knocker Heddon Spook has just the right pitch, Elam claims. “It sounds like a shad getting busted,” he says.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The One Knocker Heddon Spook has just the right pitch, Elam claims. “It sounds like a shad getting busted,” he says.
<p>Brandon Palaniuk has total confidence in his favorite topwater plugs, all of which are made by Rapala. They are the X-Rap Walk, the X-Rap Pop and the X-Rap Prop.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Brandon Palaniuk has total confidence in his favorite topwater plugs, all of which are made by Rapala. They are the X-Rap Walk, the X-Rap Pop and the X-Rap Prop.
<p>“The X-Rap Walk is a great search bait,” Palaniuk says. “You can cast it a country mile.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - “The X-Rap Walk is a great search bait,” Palaniuk says. “You can cast it a country mile.”
<p>“The X-Rap Prop is extremely good during the post-spawn,” Palaniuk says. “I cast it around bream beds.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - “The X-Rap Prop is extremely good during the post-spawn,” Palaniuk says. “I cast it around bream beds.”
<p>When Palaniuk is target casting to shallow cover, he ties on the X-Rap Pop. “It stays in the strike zone longer,” he says.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - When Palaniuk is target casting to shallow cover, he ties on the X-Rap Pop. “It stays in the strike zone longer,” he says.
<p>Palaniuk shows off an X-Rap Walk that was mauled by smallmouth bass at Lake Champlain.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Palaniuk shows off an X-Rap Walk that was mauled by smallmouth bass at Lake Champlain.
<p>Gary Klein is one of the most outrageous lure modifiers on the Elite Series tour. Topwater lures don’t escape his madness. He had this monstrosity tied on after Day Two of the West Point event.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Gary Klein is one of the most outrageous lure modifiers on the Elite Series tour. Topwater lures don’t escape his madness. He had this monstrosity tied on after Day Two of the West Point event.
<p>Klein’s outrageous buzzbait rig consists of a 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure with a black blade and a dark custom skirt, a trailer hook and a black lizard. He throws this when he has big bass in mind.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - Klein’s outrageous buzzbait rig consists of a 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure with a black blade and a dark custom skirt, a trailer hook and a black lizard. He throws this when he has big bass in mind.
<p>The 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure (bottom) has been a bass kicking topwater bait for Klein since it’s inception. He sometimes strips the skirt off a 1/4-ounce Lunker Lure and fishes it naked. He claims it reacts differently in the water and catches less grass.</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure (bottom) has been a bass kicking topwater bait for Klein since it’s inception. He sometimes strips the skirt off a 1/4-ounce Lunker Lure and fishes it naked. He claims it reacts differently in the water and catches less grass.
<p>The One Knocker Heddon Spook is a mainstay for Klein because, “bass like it.”</p>
Photo: Mark Hicks - The One Knocker Heddon Spook is a mainstay for Klein because, “bass like it.”