What NOT To Do When Using Topwater Lures (LIVE Fishing Trip)


Everybody loves watching a trout blow up your topwater.

And since the summer and early fall are some of the best times to use topwater lures, we decided to do a live and uncut video of us going on a trip where we only threw topwaters.

Here’s the bad news: conditions were not good for using topwater lures.

But here’s the good news: we did still manage a few trout on topwater and since it was a tough day we were able to share both what to do and not to do when using topwater lures.

If you want to catch more inshore saltwater fish with topwater lures (and avoid the mistakes we made), you’re going to love this episode!

You can watch the video version of this podcast below, listen to the audio version by clicking the play button underneath it, or listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify and leave us a review!

What NOT To Do With Topwater Lures [VIDEO]

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What NOT To Do With Topwater Lures [PODCAST]

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Best (And Worst) Conditions For Topwater Lures

One of the big problems we had on this trip was that conditions were pretty much as bad as they could be for throwing topwater lures.

The sun was a little higher than we’d like (we should’ve started filming right at sunrise), there was not a cloud in the sky, the water was flat-calm, and it was a full moon the night before.

It was a beautiful day, yes, but it was not good for using topwater lures.

Fish are just like people in that they don’t like to look up directly at the sun, so topwater fishing is best if the sun is low (at dawn or dusk), there are cloudy skies, and there’s a little bit of wind to chop up the surface of the water.

How To Catch More Fish With Topwater Lures

Topwater lures, like the Super Spook Jr. we were using, should be used with a walk the dog style retrieve.

This will make the lure twitch across the surface of the water like an injured baitfish, and hungry trout, redfish, or snook won’t be able to resist coming up and smashing it.

As far as how fast to retrieve these lures, the fish were not super aggressive on this day, so we were not retrieving our lures very fast.

If you’re fishing on a day where they’re hitting your lure every cast, you can pick up the speed because you know the fish are aggressive that day.

And here’s one of the biggest mistakes anglers make when using topwater lures: they set the hook too early.

If you see a fish blow up on your lure, you need to wait until you feel that it’s hooked to set the lure.

Fish don’t always get hooked up on the first hit and if you try to set the hook too early, you’ll just rip the lure out of the strike zone.

And here’s one last tip for catching more fish with topwater lures: don’t just use topwaters!

Many times you’ll see fish miss a topwater or just follow it to the boat.

When you see that and can’t catch the fish, often throwing a soft plastic, like a paddletail, will get the job done and the fish will eat it and get hooked up.

Using Single Inline Hooks (Instead Of Treble Hooks)

replace topwater lure with single hook

Here’s something we’ve been doing that has helped both us and the fish: swapping our treble hooks out for single hooks.

It’s better for the fish (fewer hooks in their mouths, eyes, and gills) and it’s safer for you because you’re less likely to hook yourself, your clothing, or someone else on the boat.

Of course, with two hook points instead of six, you will have a lower hookup ratio, but that’s not necessarily bad.

We’ve noticed that the lower hookup ratio is only for small fish and many times we’ve seen a ladyfish or small trout miss our topwater, but then a bigger trout or red comes up and eats it because it thinks it’s stealing a meal from the smaller fish.

Check out this post about how to swap out your treble hooks for inline hooks.

As far as which hooks and lures to use, we like the Super Spook Jr. with 1/0 Owner inline hooks.


fishing around storms

Thanks for tuning into this live and uncut podcast!

I hope you learned a lot about using topwaters, including what to do and what NOT to do!

If you’re looking to get some topwater action go early in the morning and look for the three B’s (birds, bait, and boils).

And if you want to increase your odds even more go on a morning when there’s a little cloud cover and wind.

You can get the lure and hooks we were using here:

If you have any more questions about using topwater lures please let us know down in the comments.

And if you know someone who likes to use topwater lures, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!

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Jim Knight
2 years ago

Best rod length, action, power, line rating & recommended lure weight rating for top water fishing?

Brett Laws Laws
3 years ago

Luke, I remember awhile back you were looking at getting a new boat. What did you end up getting?

3 years ago

We decided on getting a bay boat so that we can do more nearshore bottom fishing. Have a 24 ft Pathfinder coming our way later this year.

Michael Band
3 years ago
Reply to  Luke


Would like to see more near shore info in the future!

Mike Clark
3 years ago

Hey Guys,
What do you think about replacing the trible hooks on pencil poppers? I find a big difference between what your recommendations are and John Skinners.
Puzzled in Monterey Bay, CA.

3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Clark

I haven’t tried the single hooks on poppers, but I can’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t work for them too.

3 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I’m new to the US from New Zealand, and have used both treble and I line singles on large,small and ultralight poppers and topwaters with no appreciable differences in catch rates apart from not getting as many undersized and small fish. Theres a huge range of really good singles out now so I’d suggest trying them, especially in weeded areas.

Pat Ogletree
3 years ago

Good stuff! I enjoyed watching that. Tough conditions for sure. One thing I picked up on was Joe got a couple of strikes in the beginning while the lure was sitting still and he was talking. I wonder if an even slower retrieve with long pauses might have been the ticket. I’ve noticed unless you have ideal conditions all day the bite window for topwater is pretty short. I think you might have caught the tail end of it the first half of the podcast after that it was gone. But that’s why we do things like that to see and learn. Who would have thought that a frog made for throwing in Lilly pads for bass would have caught the biggest trout of the day on an open flat? The great mystery of fishing, you never know what’s next. Keep these coming I really like this format.

3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Ogletree

Yes, there are so many variables that it’s tough to know for sure what the cause-effect relationships are over a short period. One long-standing trend that I’ve seen is strikes happening after a long pause in the retrieve… many of my strikes happen right after I take my hand off the reel to adjust the trolling motor:)

Malcolm Hayward
3 years ago

Same Heddon, also good for inshore Sea Bass in Europe.
Dexter Wedges rule, off a boat.
Most UK skippers ban trebles. Get away with it only if gaffing a large fish for the table.

3 years ago

Thanks for the tips and tricks. Never thinking about it, that point of turning away and then setting the hook makes a ton of sense that is easily over looked. Cormorant is the winner!

3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Haha! Thanks for making time to leave the nice comment.

Dave Otte
3 years ago

This is good, timely information that I can use! Thank you for encouraging me to use the right bait the right way at the right time. Pa-Pow Joe and Luke rock!

3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Otte

Thanks Dave!

John Hardiman
3 years ago

Great job!!!

3 years ago
Reply to  John Hardiman

Thanks John!


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