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March 29, 2016

Review: Top 10 Topwater Lures To Catch Big Bass — Part 2

Review: Top 10 Topwater Lures To Catch Big Bass — Part 2

My favorite top 10 topwater lures — 6 through 10Frog

Here’s the second part of my Review of the top 10 Topwater lures.

So obviously, based on my previous post, My Top 5 Favorite Lures, this BassHole LOVES frogs! But there ARE other topwater lures that are very effective (take a look at #5 on my previous list).

Now, it’s possible that many of these lures ALSO seem like frogs to a bass, but the action also imitates a crippled fish, a swimming mouse, or some other critter that fell into Mr. Bass’s dining room.

So here we go!

My Top 10 topwater lures (6 through 10)

6. Pop-R Review: Top 10 Topwater Lures To Catch Big Bass -- Part 2

Manufacturer: Rebel
Type: Topwater
Colors: Many!
Weight: 2-1/2 & 3 Ounce
Length: 2-1/2 & 3 Inch
Type: Topwater
Body: Hard
Price: Varies between $5.00 and $10.00
Rating: 8 out of 10! It works!

The Rebel Pop-R is legendary. Due to computer simulations in the late 1970s, production was stopped. But professional anglers continued to “special order” the lure, and were winning tournaments and big payoffs with a “secret lure.” Turns out that lure was the Pop-R.

Production resumed. Described as “the standard by which all topwater / chuggers have been judged for more than three decades,” this is a great addition to any angler’s tackle box.

The Pop-R has a hollow section in the head, and will “spit” water when retrieved across the top of the water. Pull it fast, pull it slow, jerk it, find what attracts the fish. Again, when the bass crash up to eat, try to wait for the weight of the fish before setting the hook!

The speed of the retrieve WILL make a difference. I was fishing with my buddy, and was walking the Pop-R back to the boat slowly. I decided to reel it in to make another cast, and when I sped the retrieve, BAM, bass on!

The Pop-R is not weedless. But if you can cast right up next to standing vegetation, and can avoid getting fouled up in floating weeds (it’s awesome if you can pull it over lily pads), then this lure will pay off!

7. Jitterbug Jitterbug frog

Manufacturer: Arbogast
Type: Topwater
Colors: Many!
Weight: 1/4 & 5/8 Ounce
Length: 2 & 3 Inch
Body: Hard Plastic
Price: Varies between $5.00 and Up
Rating: 7.5 out of 10! It works!

Introduced in the 1930s, the Jitterbug started out as a wooden lure with a metal lip. During WWII, a shortage in metal forced Arbogast to switch to a plastic for both the body and the lip. The plastic body remains, but the metal lip is back.

That double-cupped lip creates a commotion, disturbing the water and splashing lots of water noisily, which the bass hear and attack! And that come come very fast! So be ready for a good tussle with a large fish!

The original Jitterbug was black with yellow eyes. That color is still available, and VERY POPULAR, but there are many other colors now as well. I love frogs, which is why I show the frog color, but you really can’t go wrong with any color. If you only buy one, then I would recommend the black. Always have that one available! And the Jitterbug comes in various sizes. And some are jointed. So you could really pack a LOT of these lures!

The only reasons I rated it a 7.5 instead of a 9.5 was:

  1. The hooks CAN hang in thick cover, so it can be a challenge fishing weeds, and
  2. I just haven’t tried it enough! That’s not the lures fault, but my own. I’ll try it out more this year and let you know if I change the rating.

There is not wrong way to fish this lure!

  • You can cast it out and reel it back, making a racket as it comes.
  • It’s not a bad idea to let it sit for 30 seconds and let it sit — fish seem to love to come check it out!
  • Drag it back “Stop-and-Go,” reeling it back about 10 feet at a time.
  • If a fish swipes at the lure, but misses, let it sit motionless. The fish may decide to try again!

By the way, I’ve heard that once the paint and color start getting chipped off the Jitterbug, they work even better! So don’t repaint, just recast!

Get this baby!

8. Torpedo heddon torpedo black

Manufacturer: Heddon
Type: Topwater
Colors: Many!
Weight: 1/4 (Teeny), 1/8 (Tiny), 3/8 (Baby), and 5/8 (Magnum) Ounce
Length: 1-1/2 (Teeny), 1-7/8 (Tiny), 2-1/2 (Baby), and 3-5/16 (Magnum) Inch
Body: Hard Plastic
Price: Varies between $5.00 and Up
Rating: 7 out of 10! It works!

James Heddon is credited with inventing the first fishing lures made of wood in the late 1890s. Heddon, a bee keeper, threw a stick he had whittled into the lake, and a bass tried to eat it.

Heddon and his son, Will (or “W.T.” carved the lures out of broomsticks. Will took the “plugs” Ias they were then called) to Florida to better test the lures.

Heddon, no longer family owned, is none-the-less the oldest lure company still producing high quality fishing products, including the torpedo.

The little propeller on the butt cuts the water and creates the splash that attracts the bass. One great technique is to cast the Torpedo into the water, then sweep your rod to pull it about 3 feet, then let it set, and reel up the slack. If not fish attacks (and it may!), then repeat.

My lower rating is for the same reasons listed above: can get hung up, and I need to use it more!

So if YOU use one and have some feedback, PLEASE share your knowledge with your fellow BassHoles below.

9. Zara Spook zara spook

Manufacturer: Heddon
Type: Topwater
Colors: Many!
Weight: 3/4 Ounce
Length: 4-1/2 Inch
Body: Hard Plastic
Price: Varies between $6.00 and Up
Rating: 6.5 out of 10! It works!

Another lure created by James Heddon in Dowagiac, Michigan, originally called the Zaragossa. (Say that sentence out loud 10 times real fast!) Named for its butt wiggle, which a Heddon employee likened to the wiggle of ladies of the night on Zaragoza Street in Panama City, the original name was a misspelling.

When Heddon switched to plastic, Heddon employees felt it resembled a “spook” or ghost because it looked spooky when light shone through it.

Whatever you call it and why, it’s a bass favorite!

The retrieve is known as “walk the dog,” an action that has been used for many topwater baits, and is the most written about top water technique in history!

What you do:

  • Slide the bait back and forth
  • Jerk down (not side to side) to pull the Spook
  • Let it rest, repeat jerk (should move to other side)

10. Original Floater

Manufacturer: Rapalarapala original floater
Type: Topwater
Colors: Many!
Weight: 1/4 & 5/8 Ounce
Length: 2 & 3 Inch
Body: Balsa Wood
Price: Varies between $5.00 and Up
Rating: 5 out of 10! It works!

Don’t let my low rating fool you! This is a LEGENDARY lure.

When I first started bass fishing (about 3 decades ago — YES, I’m an OLD BassHole!), I had a $50 gift certificate to BassPro given to me at Christmas. I spent 4 hours leafing through the BassPro catalog, reading about each lure, writing down “must have” lures (about $400 worth), and trying to figure out how to decide which to choose. This was especially difficult because I really didn’t know anything about bass lures!

THEN, halfway through the catalog, there was a beginners kit offered for 50 bucks. It didn’t have every lure I’d thought I needed, but it had every TYPE, and so I bought it.

I still have the Rapala Original Floater I got that Christmas. But I’ve only fished it less than a dozen times over 30 years. SO, I need to add that lure to my repertoire. And this spring and summer, I’ll check it out and may come back to change my rating!

The lure has a terrific history. Lauri Rapala, a Finnish fisherman, noticed that “big fish eat little fish,” especially little fish that were wounded, and so swam with an off-center wobble. So, to save having to keep rebaiting his hooks, he carved a minnow out of cork, covered it with foil from candy bars, and sealed the whole deal by melting photographic negatives. And thus, as they say, began “the greatest fishing story ever told.”

These lures are so good, Rapala lures consistently win more International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records than any other lure!

You see why I want to start using this! And so should you! (And let me know what happens!)

This lure can be fished in many ways!

  • Cast and retrieve (that simple!)
  • Walk the dog (see Zara Spook above), jerk rod down, pause, jerk down
  • Troll

So that completes my Top 10 list. I KNOW there are plenty of other lures (and many manufacturers make similar lures to the ones I buy) that are GREAT Top Water, so please do share YOUR favorites with your fellow BassHoles!

Tight lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole!Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger, I used to love finishing when I was younger. I would watch all the fishing shows and I even made my own lures. Funny thing, I don’t like to eat fish :). I was thinking about taking up fishing again and these lure reviews will certainly be helpful.

    • Stuart,

      I love watching fishing shows too! And hey, I don’t like eating fish either! Once I started practicing catch-and-release, I no longer had to eat the fish, or clean them, or transport them around while I fished. It make everything better for me!

      And, of course, it was a heck of a lot better for the fish!

      So get back out there and catch some big bass, then let them go!

      Thanks for sharing!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

    • Thanks, Derek!

      I love learning about them myself! And since I have all of these, it’s nice to find out hoe to use them correctly!

      Glad the explanations were helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, and how your fishing works out!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Thanks Roger for this in-depth, well written and very informative post on top water lures to catch big bass. I especially appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to list them out. This is invaluable information for anyone who wants to catch bass. Next time I think of catching bass I know where to get all the information. I look forward to more post from you.
    All the best and keep up the great work.

    • Thanks, Grace!

      And when you DO decide to go bass fishing, be sure and let me know how it goes! If you have any questions before or after, I’m happy to try and answer them.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Great info Roger

    There are so many lures on the market. You’ve really helped narrow my choices down and offered a great selection. Now I just need to get out and use them! 😉

    • Andrew,

      Good point! At Orvis, we always said, “Before a lure can catch a fish, it has to catch a fisherman.” But of course you DO have to put them in the water!

      That said, I will warn you that I’ll be talking about a lot more lures in the future! But having at least a couple of options from each category will keep you in good stead.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Thanks for the great info!

    It’s really amazing to see how far lures have come compared from back when they were just pieces of wood. The technology and innovation in them to make them spin, buzz, and mimic frogs and fish is just incredible. It’s interesting to see what they’ll come up with next. I’m interested to see if you catch any big bass with your legendary Rapala lure since it’s been a long time since you’ve used it. Hopefully I’ll see a picture of you with a huge bass this spring. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Andy! I have the same hope!

      Rapala lures are STILL made from wood (balsa), and STILL individually hand checked so they will always perform perfectly right “out of the box.” I had no idea that they were still checked until I wrote this post!

      Of course the VERY FIRST original artificial lures were made of fur and feathers, also known as “flies” (where “fly” fishing gets its name). The wood was more durable and could be cast further on new nylon (monofilament) lines.

      I’ll keep you posted on that Rapala!

      Tight lines!


  • Hello!

    First and foremost I want to thank you for writing this really informative and helpful post! I stumbled across your website because I am looking to get back into fishing (something I used to do all the time when I lived in the Pacific Northwest) and I was hoping to find some tips and tricks until I get things rolling again.

    I have found that the fishing is a lot more difficult ever since I moved to Texas. It seemed back home I could throw pretty much anything into the water and very quickly start roping in some trout or salmon, but down here where it is predominately bass things are a little different.

    The lures and the information you provided here definitely seem like a good starting point for me to get my feet wet and rediscover my love for fishing! I will be checking back often and I will let you know how I fare with this knowledge.

    Thanks again!

    • Matt,

      Welcome to the world of bass fishing!

      There are certainly some differences between fishing for trout or salmon and fishing for bass. I’ve fished for both trout AND bass (never salmon). Trout and salmon can be trickier, and warier. But the techniques for bass are a bit different.

      1) Bass can sometimes be “annoyed” into striking. If you’re sure there MUST be a bass where you’re casting, keep trying. Sometimes it seems like the bass will strike just to get rid of the disturbance of your lure. Then it’s GAME ON!

      2) Bass are frequently grouped together. Whatever structure attracts ONE bass, will attract other bass. So if you get a bite or catch a fish, then keep going! There are probably more waiting to give you some fun.

      3) Kolor is King. Sometimes the problem is that the bass are keying in on a specific color. I personally don’t believe this is a common problem, but there are plenty of BassHoles who would disagree with me! And I certainly DO carry a variety of colors, and switch if my partner is catching bass with one color and I’m not with another.

      4) Vary your speed. The speed of your retrieve is critical. Sometimes, the bass want to chase the lure. Other times, you need to go slow. Stop and go is a very productive method. Retrieve for a few feet, then pause. Let the lure sink. Often, the bass will hit “on the drop.” And sometimes, you just let the bait sit, and sit, and sit! It CAN be trying! But if it works, you’ll be glad you waited. Once you figure out the speed the bass want, you can then proceed to cover the water, using that speed, and catch more.

      I hope these tips help you make the transition to bass fishing!

      Keep me informed of your progress.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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