“Retrieval Techniques - Topwater Fishing” In the previous issue there was an article on line selection for topwater lures which touched on examples of where these lures would be fished and selecting your line accordingly – Roger Donaldson
In the previous issue there was an article on line selection for topwater lures which touched on examples of where these lures would be fished and selecting your line accordingly.
There is one common denominator with all the lures described below and that is; when casting to a target area try to aim just a few metres past the spot. This allows you time to get your lure working at the speed and desired fashion before it reaches the prime area.
Let’s take a look at a selection of topwater lures and put their retrieval techniques into action.
>> Walk-the-Dog or Zig-Zag lures
(The Zara Spook and Skitter Walk are a few examples.)
These lures are very durable yet are designed to be fished in open water where their action can be fully utilised. How to get the lure to ‘zigzag’ is also surprisingly easy.
Once the lure hits the water there is no rush in getting the bait to start moving. In fact, many Bass anglers would say that when you let the lure sit this is one time when you get bit! After engaging your reel, allow for a few seconds and start by reeling in any slack line and then simply twitch your
rod tip downward on every turn of the reel handle. Every twitch will result in the lure darting off to one side and then the next, left and then right. The choice is yours now, whether you choose not to interrupt the retrieve, or if you want to pause during the retrieve. How many times you pause is also your choice.
A similar walk-the-dog swimming action will be achieved if you elevate your rod tip and then jerk and wind in. Work with both styles and see which suits you at the time.
>> Diving and Popping lures
(Chug-Bug, Skitter Pop)
Although there is a very big difference in the swimming action of these lures as the Chug-Bug dives under the water and the popping lures do not. I’ve chosen to group them as the retrieve action is so similar.
These diving lures are however designed to dip briefly (for 10 to 20cm) below the water surface, gurgling and leaving a stream of bubbles in its wake. The popping lures have a concave appendage on the face of the lure. When jerked and retrieved simultaneously the concave delivers a distinct popping noise and also produces a slight spray, which can be enhanced depending on how aggressively the bait is jerked.
Much the same as you would have done with the zig-zag lures, the angler can cast out and then lower the rod tip and start with a rapid twitch downward. As the lure either dives or pops you can reel in the slack line you have created and then continue the process, over and over until done. I’d like to highlight here that how hard and fast, or aggressively you retrieve is really decided on the day. Personally I prefer a more subtle retrieve in calm weather conditions and then increasingly aggressive in breezy conditions.
>> Propeller Baits
(Torpedo’s, Skitter Prop, Dying Flutter. NOT Buzzbaits.)
The technique used for these lures is precisely the same as diving and popping lures. The objective here being that you want the propeller to deliver many very brief, frantic gurgles when jerked and retrieved. Although the retrieve is the same, this does not mean that the lure will behave anywhere similar at all. These lures travel straight and wow, do they attract explosive bites. Also, allow the lure to rest for two, three, or even four seconds out on the water surface just to alternate your retrieve strategy. Those smallmouth bass won’t resist that little trick!
This old favourite really is a bass magnet and so easy to use too. Many angler’s first question to me is, “Which way around does the lure swim?” The propeller/s churn the surface of the water, while the hook lies beneath the surface, directly under the propellers. But don’t worry about this, as the buzzbait automatically arranges itself that way once you start retrieving.
The key after casting in is to quickly be prepared to engage your reel and start your retrieve as the buzzbait hits the water. This will keep the lure from sinking beneath the surface too far and lets the blades of the propeller/s churn the surface much sooner. Keep your rod tip elevated at all times and make a constant retrieve to help the buzzbait stay above the surface and “buzzing”.
>> Frogs and Toads
There are now so many varieties, including the SPRO Bronzeye Frog, Gene Larew’s floating frog, popping frogs, Zoom Horny Toad… and the list goes on. I have two Plano tackle boxes for my frogs; one for my SPRO frogs and another for all the other soft plastic frogs. They all have particular retrieve techniques and truly there are too many to mention in this article. Next month we’ll put together the techniques for each.
*Roger Donaldson is an experienced journalist and knowledgeable bass angler who has enjoyed many enlightening hours with many of South Africa’s top, competitive bass fishermen. As a competitive angler himself, he also enjoys sharing his expertise with fellow bass fanatics in the hope that they find the same joy in this unique sport.