I Fished With Only Topwater Lures For A Year And This Is What I Learned
Would you have fished with only topwater lures for a year to learn more and perfect your topwater retrieve?
Salt Strong Fishing Coach Pat Ogletree did!!!
Keep scrolling below to learn more about Pat’s findings and conclusions!
Fished With Only Topwater Lures For A Year [VIDEO]
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- Moonwalker Topwater Lure
- Rapala Skitter Walk
- Rapala SkitterV
- Heddon Super Spook Jr.
- Ande Monofilament Leader
As my 1-year topwater lure experiment came to an end, I learned 5 major lessons about topwater fishing.
You may be asking yourself, “Why would Pat only fish with topwater lures for an entire year?”.
The answer is simple: I wanted to get better and perfect retrieving topwater lures.
For those of you that regularly fish with topwater lures, you can attest to the sheer excitement and anticipation of waiting for a fish to smack the surface and inhale your lure.
But prior to a year of strictly topwater lures, I questioned when, where, and how I should be throwing topwater lures in a given fishing scenario.
So, I figured the best way to perfect topwater lure retrieve was to go out and only focus on that.
Yes, you can catch fish year-round on topwater fishing lures.
I caught fish from January through December using only topwater lures, but there are limitations to dive into.
There are situations when you can go ahead and use topwater lures or situations where you should avoid topwater altogether.
Also keep in mind, that just because you can catch fish on topwater doesn’t mean you will catch a lot of fish on topwater.
Meaning this is more for the thrill of topwater fishing as opposed to going out to catch as many fish as you can on subsurface lures.
Trends & Bait Progression By Season
As winter approaches later in the year, water temperatures begin to fall.
Then, the fish are forced into hiding in deep water for warmth.
These are the times to avoid throwing topwater lures.
You can turn to topwater lures during the long warming trends in between cold fronts.
As temperatures slowly rise during warming trends, the fish move into muddy flats for warmth and to feed.
You need to put yourself in an area with shallow water, wind protection, and stealthy lure choices.
This is the time of the year when you want to avoid loud, clunky lure presentations.
In these situations, it is a smart choice to turn to the MirrOlure 7M Series lure.
The MirrOlure 7M Series lure is a floater/diver lure without any additional rattles.
It is a basic and slim profile that is ideal for the wintertime and in shallow water because it does not make a lot of noise.
On the flip side of winter, as spring approaches and bait hatches, predatory fish will tend to school up around points or coves.
In these scenarios, it can sometimes be difficult for your lure presentation to stand out amongst the schools of baitfish.
I like to turn to a Prop Bait style lure in these situations.
A Prop Bait helps your lure stand out amongst the baitfish and attracts the attention of the fish.
Keep in mind that Prop Baits do not have a long window of effectiveness because as spring continues and the bait disperses, Prop Baits become ineffective.
Now as we move into mid-spring, smaller walk-the-dog style lures are going to be a must-have.
An example is the Rapala Skitter Walk because of its thin profile and low-pitch rattle.
This lure especially excels in the springtime because the fish are not necessarily fired up yet because water temperatures are still climbing.
If fish are hesitant to hunt down topwater lures, then go for something that has a small profile and creates as little noise as possible.
Moreover, as we move into late spring, summer, and early fall, that is when you want to bring out slightly larger topwater lures.
These are primetime months for using the Salt Strong Moonwalker topwater lure.
During these times of the year, the fish are feeding more aggressively, baitfish are slightly larger, and you can cast these lures much farther than others.
Lastly, baitfish are at their largest size in the fall.
This is when you need to use lures that completely capture the fish’s attention.
Lures like the Rapala SkitterV are excellent choices for this time of the year.
Because of the “V”-shaped bottom of the SkitterV, you don’t want to fully work this lure like a normal walk-the-dog style topwater lure.
The original intention of the lure was for it to glide a lot further along the surface as you slowly jerk it along the surface.
If you quickly snap your rod back each time you jerk your lure, you can create a lot of action and splash on the surface with this lure.
This should then attract the fish’s attention and have them zero in on your bait.
The third lesson is to work your lure depending on the current conditions around you.
If it is clear and calm on the water, you do not want to be aggressive and loud with your presentation.
Smaller, less-aggressive twitches will induce more bites in these situations than loud, aggressive retrieves.
On the other hand, if you are fishing in windy and choppy conditions, then you want to turn to a loud and large profile lure.
Your objective is to grab that fish’s attention in the middle of rough surf and high winds.
Against common belief, switching to single inline hooks is one of the best adjustments you can make to your topwater lures.
The first reason for switching to single inline hooks is that it is both safer for you and safer for the fish.
Some lures come equipped with 2 or sometimes 3 treble hooks that offer lots of ways for you, or someone fishing with you, to get hurt.
Moreover, the treble hooks can flail around and cause further damage to fish’s mouths, their gills, or elsewhere.
Additionally, single inline hooks have a wider hook gap and have a much stronger connection to the lure itself than treble hooks.
Due to the design of treble hooks, they actually have the tendency to foul hook a fish’s mouth, or worse, the hooks can straighten and you lose the fish.
Single inline hooks have a stronger gauge that allows you to put more pressure on a fish and reel it in safely.
If you are fishing with topwater lures, you are going to want to use a monofilament leader line of at least 30-lb strength.
The reason you want to use monofilament leader and not fluorocarbon leader is because fluorocarbon actually sinks faster than monofilament.
When you are working a topwater lure using fluorocarbon leader, the front hook has a tendency to foul up in the line.
With monofilament, the line will not sink as fast as fluorocarbon and the front hook on your lure won’t get wrapped.
We did not discuss every single topwater lure out there and you may have your own personal preferences, but this video was designed as a guide for you to try and catch fish using topwater lures in seasons you otherwise wouldn’t think twice of throwing topwater.
The lures discussed above in the situations noted above are proven winners.
Be sure to head over to our shop and pick up the topwater lures you need for spring, summer, and fall!!!
Do you have any more questions about how I fished with only topwater lures for a year?
Let me know down in the comments!
Please share with us your favorite topwater lure and any personal experiences you’ve had while topwater fishing!!
- Moonwalker Topwater Lure
- Rapala Skitter Walk
- Rapala SkitterV
- Heddon Super Spook Jr.
- Ande Monofilament Leader
And if you know someone who wants to learn more about how I fished with only topwater lures for a year, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
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Great post, Pat! What was the most unusual or unexpected fish you caught in your year of using only the topwater lures?
Thank you Kendra!
That’s a great question! I can say that I did catch some fish I didn’t expect like a black tip shark, flounder, gaff top catfish and tarpon, although the last one wasn’t necessarily unexpected, just in the area I caught it.
Great tips. My question is, what is the max water depth you found and still be effective using top water?
Water depth can be irrelevant when the fish are chasing bait on top but under normal circumstances I’ve caught them on top in 8-10 foot of water when it’s clear. But to be honest I probably would have caught more if I had thrown a subsurface lure.
To answer the original question, 4-5 foot is about as deep as I would go. The sweet spot seems to be 1 1/2 to 4 foot. But there’s always exceptions both ways.
this should be a class , so many salient points made, take years off the learning curve and watch it.
Thanks for the suggestion Mike! We might do a mastery course on this.
Some good points there. My favorite topwater is the 94MR MirrOlure Top Dog. As you say, there are conditions that don’t lend themselves to this large topwater lure with a very loud knocking sound. But I have found this lure to catch some of the biggest fish. This lure walks the dog better than any of the lures you mentioned in a choppy, windy situation because of its length and design. it casts like a bullet and the distance you get is tremendous. I like either the 18 or 21 colors most for this lure. They are natural-looking colors and have always produced fish for me.
Those Top Dogs are proven fish catching lures for sure! Another good one is the She Dog. I like those in choppy conditions, the high pitch rattles are louder and seem to work better.
Thanks for the input Ray!
That was a well thought out summary.
Appreciate it Kenneth! I’m glad you liked it.
Pat, I already have a spool of Ande Premium 30lb Test 1/4lb Spool 400yds Clear fishing line. Would this work the same as the 50 yard spool of Ande leader material? Is there any difference?
Yes. I put a 1/4 pound Ande Premium or Ande Backcountry spool in a koozie. It keeps the line from running off the spool unless you pull it off. The advantage of the leader spool is a bit less memory, but it’s negligible. The line is the same. My preference is Ande Backcountry though. The color of the line is a light blue and to me, invisible in the water.
That’s pretty much what I’ve done for years. It will work just fine!
Pat, did you do a SS podcast around a year or more ago on your topwater journey? I remember that one very well. Great stuff, sir!
Thanks Anthony! That was me December 2020 I believe
Pat that’s awesome so now I have to ask when are you going to design a variety of moonwalkers so I can get a discount
Thanks Shane! You never know what can happen!
Great tips and thank you for the written summary. I prefer to read (guess because you tube wasn’t a thing for the first 40 years of my life) and scrolling through alot of videos takes time although they can be more useful at times. Going to try the mono leader as the last time I used the moonwalker that was an issue I was having
Appreciate it Brian! That mono will help you out for sure!
Did I hear nothing but top water for a YEAR?!?!?😳that’s a commitment for sure. I just don’t think I could have the patients to stick it out for a year and I love top water so it was very informative and hats off to the top water for a year …. You are THE man 👍👍
Thanks Greg! It was challenging and fun at the same time!