For the average bass angler, there's nothing more frustrating than getting an explosive topwater strike only to haul water and wonder how in the world the bass didn't hook up. In the world of professional bass fishing, the difference between a near miss and a successful hookup on topwater can mean the difference in thousands of dollars.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet has a few tricks to up the odds when it comes to hooking bass on top. "The thing about topwater baits is that you'll get a lot of blowups and sometimes the bass just won't hook up," allows the Oklahoma pro. One of the things Kriet does to entice a lure-engulfing strike is change how fast he works the lure.
"A lot of times you have to speed that bait up a lot to get them to eat it. If you work it too slow they'll just roll up behind it, but if you speed it up, that can be the ticket when it comes to missed strikes," explains Kriet. When increasing the retrieve speed on walking baits, Kriet often sweetens his offering by replacing the rear factory treble hook with a custom feathered treble.
It's a move that he believes pays big dividends. "Adding that feather hook to the back of the bait really seems to make a difference," Kriet claims. "I don't worry about colors too much but adding that feather and working the bait faster are a few tricks that you can do to make them eat the bait." When bass roll or boil on a walking bait but miss it completely, Kriet often switches to a popper if the conditions are right. "I like to throw the popper in shade or around the sides of docks, but there are times of the year where the size of the baitfish in the water dictates the size of the lure that I throw," explains Kriet.
"If I'm on a lake with a lot of gizzard shad, I like to throw a walking bait like a Zara Spook if I'm fishing around points or rocks. When I'm throwing around cover like stumps or stick-ups, I really prefer the popper." When fishing a buzzbait, it's already a well known fact that the addition of a trailer hook increases the hook-up odds.
However, Kriet cautions that overlooking the importance of the right rod can lead to heartbreak. "I usually throw a buzzbait in heavy cover so it's important to use a heavier rod to pull those bass out. I've seen a lot of anglers jerk the bait away from the bass before it really has it, so I really make sure that they eat the buzzbait before I set the hook," says Kriet. While a heavier rod is key in thick cover, he stresses the importance of using a rod with a soft tip, particularly when throw the bait on braided line.
"I like to use braid if I'm around a lot of grass or extremely thick cover, and I'll just lean into the fish rather than really set the hook." On the topic of line, Kriet uses only monofilament or braid, never fluorocarbon, when fishing a topwater lure. "One of the biggest things I see with the weekend anglers is they get confused with fluorocarbon line.
I use fluorocarbon 90 percent of the time, but I never use it with any type of topwater. Fluorocarbon sinks and pulls the bait down, so I stick with mono or braid." Kriet also notes the importance of having a sub-surface "follow up" bait ready for battle if a bass misses his topwater offering. "Anytime I'm throwing a topwater and get to missing fish, I'll always have something to follow up with,"
he explains. "A fluke is a really good bait to throw back in if I miss one, and if it's really thick cover, I'll even flip to the fish with a jig or Texas rig. I never fish a topwater lure without having another rod rigged with a slow sinking bait to follow up with if I miss a strike."
(Provided by Z3 Media)