Hard baits, although open hooked, are relatively weedless and because of their inherent weight can be cast a long distance. Hard baits are divided into three types. Pencil baits, pop baits and prop baits. Pencil baits are pencil (some might say cigar) shaped lures with two or three treble hooks and are commonly fished with a technique called walking-thedog. This is a technique that makes the lure swim on the surface with a zigzag motion. This is achieved by twitching the rod tip in a down ward motion making the lure react by swimming of to one side. The angler allows for some slack to develop in the line before twitching again, effectively changing the direction of the lure. As your proficiency with the retrieve grows you will soon be able to walk-the-dog quite rapidly. These lures and their technique are best used when the water is glass smooth or with a very light ripple.
Pop baits are usually made with a cup shaped face and are retrieved with a short, sharp twitch causing the lure to splash up water while making a loud popping sound. Some popping lures are fitted with wide cup-like lips or flat paddle – like arms and should be fished with a constant retrieve.
The prop bait is the third type of commonly used hard top water baits. These are baits with a similar body design to the pencil baits but come with a metal propeller attached to one or both ends of the lure. For some reason, large prop baits are very effective and popular in the warmer low lying dams of South Africa and Zimbabwe, where they draw massive strikes. Prop baits are very simple to fish. After casting the lure out, let it settle for a bit until the ripples have disappeared, then give the line a sharp twitch, snapping the lure forward for a foot or two. This action will cause the props to spin, making a gurgling noise and generating a bubble trail.
Unless the fish are very aggressive, I have found that pop baits work best when there is a bit of a chop on the water or when visibility is lower.