Kayak Topwater Fishing

by John McClenney

Topwater fishing is my favorite method of fishing. If the fish have an inkling that they will Flat watercommit to topwater techniques I have a hard time switching to other methods of taking fish. Topwater fishing means you are running a bait across the surface of the water to get the reaction bite.  Sometimes topwater fishing needs to be a subtle presentation and other times full out chaos.   Most of the time I cover a lot of water with multiple cast looking for those topwater strikes. Here are a few tips and techniques that I hope will help you succeed.

Rods, Reels and Line
I prefer high-speed reels (6.8:1 or higher) It makes it easier to keep buzz baits on top of the water with less effort on cranking.  It will also help you catch up to the fish after they hit your lure. 

I like to use a Med.-Heavy to Heavy Action in a 7 foot. I like to have the strength to hoist the fish from cover.  If fishing smaller and lighter baits you may need to go with a lighter action rod. I have found that rods longer than 7 feet make it harder to get the fish close to the kayak when landing them.

Topwater LuresMost of the time I use 40 pound braided line, it gives me the strength to pull fish out of the grass and lily pads. If finesse top water fishing especially in clear water. I use low visibility mono and sized according to the bait that I am throwing usually 8-10 pound or 14-17 pound.

Topwater Lures
There are tons of topwater lures to select from and most all of them will work when used correctly in the right environment. Color selection for lures, I try to match the bait or choose by water clarity. Murky water I use darker colors and lighter colors for clearer water. If you like to keep it simple black can be seen in any color water. Below are few and styles, some have one type action and others can be fished multiple actions.

  • Floating stick baits, Walking Baits(Spooks, Floating Rapala, Jerk Baits, Walking Baits)
  • Prop Baits (Whooper Plopper, Tiny Torpedo, Devil Horse)
  • Popper Baits ( Hula Popper, Pop-R, Jitter Bug, Popping Hollow Body Frogs)
  • Buzz Baits
  • Toads and Frogs(Zoom Horny Toad, Top Toad, Ribbit Frogs, Spro Frogs)

Topwater Techiques  

Two things come into play when topwater fishing, sight and sound! The fish are looking and listening now just to figure out which works best. I have worked down a bank with a Whopper Plopper with no hits and go back down it with a buzz bait and catch four fish. I have seen a buzz bait with a clicker out preform one with no clicker.  Sound matters, play around with your baits to see which sound they want.


Slow finesse with a walking or popping bait. (jerk pause, jerk pause) Play around with retrieval and pause speeds. I have seen small mouth bass not touch a bait until all ripples have disappeared.

Power across the surface with a buzz bait or prop bait. Try different retrieval speeds. Give them a jerk or pause while retrieving.

Good luck and I hope this may help in your quest for top water bass fishing. 


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