NBS Outdoor Fall Issue 2020

beneath overhanging trees along the bank. Oftentimes bass will get between the shady bank and a weed edge to ambush unsuspecting forage. I fish frogs with 50-pound braid on a 7-3 medium heavy action Favorite Rush Rod with the HyperMag baitcaster. Buzzbait. This is another topwater that’s good for covering water. Unlike the other topwaters I use, the buzzbait doesn’t float but churns the surface as you wind it steadily back to the boat. It’s also a good choice when the water is stained and for working over sparse grass, logs, or stumps. While traditional buzzbaits have skirts over the hook, anglers are discovering that replacing the skirt with a toad-style plastic trailer can be even more effective. My favorite is the KVD Toad Buzz. The legs on the toad create additional fuss and add buoyancy. I fish it with 15-pound monofilament that’s more abrasion resistant and has a stretch in the line that allows the bass to eat it better. I fish it with the same rod and reel combination I use for poppers. Wake baits. Wake Baits are a bit of a hybrid topwater in that they look like crankbaits but run partially beneath the surface, creating a “V” in the water as you wind them along. It’s more of a subtle presentation for clear, calm water and fishing over flats or along flats that break into deep water. My favorite is the KVD 2.5 Wake Bait fished on the same rod and reel combo that I use for buzz baits. Sure, there are going to be days this fall when the topwater bite is off. But as those days start to cool, you’d be wise to have a topwater ready to experience some of the most exciting action that bass fishing has to offer.

Frogs can trigger big bass into biting when fished over vegetation.

Equipment matters, too. I fish poppers on a Lew’s HyperMag baitcaster with a 7.5 gear ratio reel and a 7-foot, medium-action Favorite Rush Rod. For line, I use 30-pound braid with a long, 15- or 20-pound monofilament leader. With this setup, I simply pull or lean into the rod to set the hook. Whereas the no-stretch braid gives me instant contact, the monofilament leader offers some stretch for shock absorption. That’s important because poppers tend to have smaller hooks that can pull out easily if you overpower them. Walking baits. There may not be a better choice when trying to cover large areas of open water quickly or if the water is clear and you need to make long casts. This lure performs best when you make short twitches on a slightly slack line to make the nose of the bait jump side to side. It also can be more effective than the popper on choppy, windblown water. In the north, it’s deadly for drawing big smallmouth from deeper water to crush the bait on the surface. My favorites are the Strike King Sexy Dawg, offered in three

sizes. I select the size that best matches the size of baitfish the bass are eating. I throw walking

“ Fall topwater strikes are the most violent and exciting in all of fishing. ”

baits on 30-pound braid without a leader, but on the same rod and reel combo that I use for poppers. The braid gives me instant contact with the bait’s larger hooks on long casts while the medium-action rod is more forgiving when hooking and landing fish. Soft-bodied frogs. Frogs are an excellent choice on grass lakes because of the weedless design and natural presentation. The frog is a slower presentation that allows bass under thick grass to find the bait and grab it. It’s also an excellent choice for skipping under docks or

40 • NBS OUTDOOR • Fall 2020

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