SA Bass - - Contents - >> Roger Don­ald­son*

“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!

>> Buzzbaits

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.

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