Topwater Fishing: Do Smallmouths Bite?

Discover if smallmouths bite topwater lures. Explore factors that influence their behavior and learn effective techniques for successful topwater fishing.

Have you ever wondered if smallmouths bite topwater lures? Well, you’re not alone! Many anglers love the thrill of topwater fishing but may question whether smallmouth bass are attracted to these types of lures. In this article, we will delve into the topic and explore the behavior of smallmouth bass when it comes to topwater fishing. So, if you’re eager to find out if smallmouths bite topwater, keep reading!

Smallmouth bass are known for their aggressive nature and voracious appetite, making them prime targets for topwater fishing. However, their preference for topwater lures may vary depending on various factors such as location, time of year, and weather conditions. Furthermore, different types of topwater lures may elicit different reactions from smallmouth bass. In order to understand their feeding habits, it is essential to delve into their behavior and the factors that influence their decision to strike a topwater lure.

In the following sections, we will discuss these factors in more detail, providing you with valuable insights into smallmouth bass behavior and how to effectively use topwater lures to target them. By understanding their feeding patterns and preferences, you can increase your chances of success when it comes to catching smallmouth bass in topwater situations. So, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to improve your skills, this article will provide you with the knowledge you need to make the most out of your topwater fishing experiences. Stay tuned and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of topwater fishing for smallmouths! Topwater fishing is an exciting and exhilarating way to target fish, and one question that often comes up is whether smallmouth bass can be caught using topwater lures. The answer is a resounding yes! Smallmouth bass, known for their aggressive nature, are often more than willing to strike at a well-presented topwater lure. In this article, we will explore the world of topwater fishing for smallmouth bass, including the benefits, techniques, and patterns that can help you have success on the water.

What is Topwater Fishing?

Before we delve into the specifics of smallmouth bass and topwater lures, let’s first understand what topwater fishing actually is. Topwater fishing refers to the practice of using lures that float or skim across the water’s surface to entice fish to strike. These lures imitate prey that is swimming or hovering near the surface, such as injured baitfish, frogs, or insects. Topwater fishing is often considered one of the most exciting and visual ways to catch fish, as you can see the strike happen right before your eyes.

Benefits of Topwater Fishing

There are several benefits to fishing with topwater lures, especially when targeting smallmouth bass. Firstly, topwater lures allow you to cover large areas of water quickly and efficiently. By casting your lure and retrieving it across the surface, you can explore a wide range of depths and structures, increasing your chances of finding actively feeding fish.

Secondly, topwater fishing can be incredibly visual and exciting. There’s nothing quite like seeing a smallmouth bass explode on your lure, creating a heart-stopping moment of anticipation as you set the hook. The visual aspect of topwater fishing adds an element of thrill and satisfaction that is hard to replicate with other techniques.

Different Types of Topwater Lures

There are various types of topwater lures that work well for smallmouth bass. Here are a few examples:

  • Popper: A popper is a concave-faced lure that creates a loud popping sound when retrieved, imitating a prey fish feeding on the surface. Poppers are excellent for fishing in calm conditions or when smallmouths are actively feeding near the surface.

  • Walking Bait: A walking bait, also known as a “walk-the-dog” lure, is designed to zig-zag back and forth when retrieved. This erratic action mimics the movement of a wounded baitfish and can be irresistible to smallmouth bass.

  • Buzzbait: A buzzbait is a surface lure with a spinning blade that creates a buzzing noise when retrieved. The blade churns the water’s surface, imitating a distressed insect or small creature. Buzzbaits are particularly effective in low light conditions or when fishing in dense vegetation.

  • Frog: A frog lure is designed to mimic a frog or other amphibian floating on the water’s surface. It often has rubber legs and a weedless design to allow for fishing in heavy cover. Frogs can be highly effective for enticing big smallmouth bass lurking in weedy areas or near the shoreline.

Techniques for Topwater Fishing

To have success with topwater lures for smallmouth bass, it’s essential to understand and implement the right techniques. Here are a few key aspects to consider:

Choosing the Right Equipment

When it comes to topwater fishing for smallmouth bass, choosing the right equipment is crucial. Opt for a medium to medium-heavy rod with a fast or extra-fast action. This will give you the sensitivity and power needed to detect strikes and set the hook effectively. Pair your rod with a high-quality spinning reel, spooled with a low-stretch monofilament or braided line.

Casting and Retrieval Techniques

Casting accuracy is paramount when fishing with topwater lures. Smallmouth bass are often found near structures or cover, so make sure to place your lure close to these areas. As you retrieve your lure, experiment with different speeds and cadences to find what triggers the best response from the fish. Vary your retrieve between a steady retrieve, occasional twitches, or pauses to imitate injured prey.

Reading the Water for Topwater Strikes

Smallmouth bass can be found in various habitats, from rocky shorelines to submerged structures. To increase your chances of success, it’s important to read the water and identify potential hotspots. Look for areas with visible structure, such as rocks, fallen trees, or weed beds. These are prime locations where smallmouth bass may be lurking, ready to strike at a well-presented topwater lure.

Factors Affecting Smallmouth Bass Behavior

Understanding the factors that influence smallmouth bass behavior can greatly improve your chances of enticing them to bite topwater lures. Here are a few important factors to consider:

Water Temperature and Time of Day

Smallmouth bass are cold-blooded creatures, which means their activity levels are strongly influenced by water temperature. During the warmer months, smallmouths are more likely to be active and willing to strike at topwater lures. In the early morning and late afternoon, when water temperatures are cooler, smallmouths tend to be more active and aggressive.

Feeding Patterns

Smallmouth bass feed on a variety of prey, including baitfish, crayfish, and insects. Understanding their feeding patterns can help you choose the right topwater lure and presentation. For example, if you notice smallmouths actively feeding on schools of baitfish near the surface, using a popper or walking bait that mimics the size and action of the baitfish would be a wise choice.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions, such as cloud cover, wind, and barometric pressure, can greatly impact smallmouth bass behavior. Cloudy days and low-light conditions can make smallmouths more willing to come to the surface to feed, making it an ideal time for topwater fishing. On the other hand, bright and sunny days may drive smallmouths to seek cover or deeper water, reducing the effectiveness of topwater lures.

Smallmouth Bass and Topwater Lures

Smallmouth bass are known for their aggressive nature and willingness to strike at topwater lures. There are several reasons why smallmouths are attracted to these lures:

Visual Appeal

Smallmouth bass are visual predators and are often drawn to the movement and commotion created by a topwater lure. The splashes, pops, and buzzing sounds made by these lures can ignite their predatory instincts, triggering an aggressive strike.

Provoking a Reaction

Topwater lures, particularly those with erratic or lifelike action, can provoke a reaction strike from smallmouth bass. When a lure closely resembles a prey item and moves in an unpredictable manner, smallmouths often strike instinctively, even if they are not actively feeding.

Territory Defense

Smallmouth bass are territorial fish and can become aggressive when they perceive a threat to their territory. A topwater lure invading their space can trigger a territorial response, leading to a strike. This instinctual behavior can be exploited by using topwater lures that imitate intruding baitfish or frogs.

Types of Topwater Lures that Work Well for Smallmouths

Several types of topwater lures have proven to be effective for catching smallmouth bass. These include poppers, walking baits, buzzbaits, and frog lures. Each type of lure has unique characteristics and is designed to imitate different prey items. The key is to experiment with different lures and presentations to determine what works best on a given day.

Tips for Catching Smallmouth Bass with Topwater Lures

Now that we understand the basics of topwater fishing for smallmouth bass, let’s explore some tips for maximizing your success on the water:

Best Seasons for Topwater Fishing

The best seasons for topwater fishing for smallmouth bass are typically the warmer months, from late spring to early fall. During this time, smallmouths are more active and willing to come to the surface to feed. However, don’t rule out topwater fishing during other seasons, as smallmouths can still be caught on these lures in colder water conditions, especially during early morning or late afternoon.

Location and Structure Preferences

Smallmouth bass are often found near structures or cover, such as rocks, fallen trees, weed beds, or submerged vegetation. These structures provide hiding spots and ambush points for smallmouths to target their prey. When fishing with topwater lures, pay close attention to these areas, as they are likely to hold feeding smallmouths.

Presentation Techniques for Enticing Smallmouths

Experiment with different presentation techniques to entice smallmouth bass to strike at your topwater lure. Vary your retrieve speed, pause the lure occasionally, and incorporate occasional twitches to mimic an injured prey item. Also, pay attention to the depth at which smallmouths are actively feeding. Adjust your retrieve to keep your lure within their strike zone.

Other Species that Bite Topwater Lures

While smallmouth bass are a prime target for topwater fishing, they are not the only species that can be caught using this technique. Other fish species, such as largemouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge, and even trout, can also be enticed to strike at topwater lures. If you are fishing in an area with multiple species, be prepared for other potential catches while targeting smallmouths.

Seasonal Patterns for Smallmouth Bass Topwater Bites

Smallmouth bass behavior can vary depending on the season, so it’s essential to adapt your topwater fishing techniques accordingly. Here are a few seasonal patterns to keep in mind when targeting smallmouths with topwater lures:

Spring Tactics for Smallmouth Bass Topwater Fishing

In the spring, as water temperatures start to rise, smallmouth bass become more active and hungry after a long winter. Look for them in shallow water areas, such as flats, rock piles, or areas near the shoreline. Slow-moving topwater lures, such as walking baits or poppers, can be effective in enticing early-season smallmouths to strike.

Summer Strategies for Topwater Bites

During the summer months, smallmouth bass seek cooler water and often move to deeper areas or shade-providing structures. However, early mornings and late evenings can still offer excellent topwater fishing opportunities, especially in shallow areas near drop-offs or rocky points. Adjust your presentation techniques to fish at varying depths and experiment with different types of topwater lures to find what triggers the best response.

Fall Approaches for Enticing Smallmouths

In the fall, as water temperatures begin to cool again, smallmouth bass become more active and aggressive in their feeding. Pay attention to areas where schools of baitfish are present, as smallmouths often gather around these areas to feed before winter. Fast-moving topwater lures, such as buzzbaits or walking baits, can emulate fleeing baitfish and elicit powerful strikes.

Common Mistakes in Topwater Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

Avoiding common mistakes can greatly increase your chances of success when fishing with topwater lures for smallmouth bass. Here are a few mistakes to be aware of:

Overworking the Lure

One common mistake made by anglers is overworking the lure. While it’s important to create enough commotion to attract the attention of smallmouth bass, excessive movements or aggressive retrieves may spook the fish or seem unnatural. Keep your lure action relatively subtle and allow the lure’s design and water disturbance to attract the fish.

Using the Wrong Size or Color

Choosing the right size and color of the topwater lure is essential for enticing smallmouths. Match the size of your lure to the prey fish or insects that are present in the water. Consider the clarity of the water and the light conditions when selecting the color of your lure. Natural colors, such as silver or white, often work well in clear water, while darker or more vibrant colors may be effective in stained or murky water.

Failure to Adapt to Changing Conditions

Conditions on the water can change quickly, from changing weather patterns to shifting fish behavior. One common mistake anglers make is failing to adapt their topwater fishing techniques to these changing conditions. Monitor the water temperature, weather conditions, and fish activity closely and adjust your lure selection, presentation, or fishing location accordingly.

Tips for an Effective Topwater Presentation

To ensure an effective topwater presentation, consider the following tips:

Matching the Hatch

Observing the natural prey items present in the water can give you valuable insights into what smallmouths are feeding on. Match your topwater lure to the size, color, and action of the baitfish or insects that are abundant in the area. This will increase the chances of triggering a strike from a feeding smallmouth bass.

Working with the Right Speed and Rhythm

The speed and rhythm at which you retrieve your topwater lure can greatly impact its effectiveness. Experiment with different speeds and cadences to find what triggers the best response. Sometimes a slow, subtle retrieve may be more enticing, while other times a faster, erratic retrieve may be what smallmouths are looking for.

Using Pauses and Twitches Effectively

Smallmouth bass are often tempted by lures that exhibit injured or vulnerable behavior. Incorporate occasional pauses and twitches into your retrieve to imitate a struggling or injured prey item. These pauses and twitches can be highly effective in triggering a reaction strike from smallmouths.


In conclusion, smallmouth bass do bite topwater lures, and with the right techniques and presentation, you can have great success targeting them. By understanding the benefits of topwater fishing, choosing the right lures and equipment, and adapting to the conditions, you can increase your chances of enticing smallmouths to strike. Remember to experiment with different lures, presentation techniques, and seasonal patterns to find what works best for you. So get out there and enjoy the thrill of topwater fishing for smallmouth bass!

Avatar photo
Erik Njordson

Hey there, fellow finned explorers! I'm Erik Njordson, your go-to guy for everything fishing and fishy. Born in the beautiful fjords of Bergen, Norway, I was practically raised with a fishing rod in one hand and a net in the other. When I was 10, my family and I migrated to the rugged coasts of British Columbia, Canada, where my love for fishing took on a whole new dimension.

I hold a degree in Marine Biology, which means I can talk fish—scientifically. My writing? Imagine your favorite fishing buddy and your Marine Biology professor had a baby—that's me! Informative but never boring.

When I'm not busy casting lines or jotting down the secrets of the deep, you'll find me hiking through the stunning Canadian landscapes, snapping photos of wildlife, or in my kitchen. I love cooking up a storm, especially when the main ingredient is my latest catch, prepared using recipes passed down from my Norwegian ancestors.

I'm fluent in both Norwegian and English, so I bring a unique, global flavor to the angling community. But remember, fishing isn't just about the thrill of the catch for me. It's about respecting our aquatic friends and their habitats. I'm a strong advocate for sustainable fishing, and I hope to inspire you to be one too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *