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How to Work a Topwater Lure

You've probably heard that you should wait two seconds before setting the hook. That is good advice. What happens is that a bass will open her giant mouth and take the bait back down, but it takes a second or two before she closes her mouth. If you set the hook with her mouth open, it is likely to come back out.
But how can you wait two seconds when one hits a buzzbait at full speed? Believe it or not, it is possible. It may be unusual, but I work a buzzbait similar to a plastic worm. I try to keep my rod as high as possible (often even behind my head). When a fish hits it, I don't set the hook, but drop my rod and take out the slack. By the time I get the slack out and set the hook, one or two seconds have passed. The fish never felt the rod because I had so much distance between the rod and the bait.

When working topwaters that actually float (unlike buzzbaits), I try to keep a 90 degree angle with the bait, so the rod is perpendicular to the line. When working a shoreline, I recommend that my client in the back throw even or ahead of the front of the boat and keep his rod above the outboard motor. When a fish hits the bait, by the time he gets all the slack out to set the hook, he has waited long enough to catch the fish.

The topwater bite on most public lakes is rarely ever so good that you are expecting a bite every throw. Many people react instantly when one hits a topwater. I recommend keeping that 90 degree angle, so it will force you to wait.
Topwater fishing is best at dusk, dawn, and on cloudy days when the water temp is over 60 degrees. Always fish shallow water unless there is a compelling reason to fish deeper. Always try to keep as much distance between the boat and the shallows as possible.

Most common topwater fishing mistakes:

  1. setting the hook too soon
  2. too short of cast
  3. fishing topwaters at the wrong time
  4. fishing the wrong water
  5. line is too tight
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