Make a Splash

Five tips for improved surface success.

Field & Stream Online Editors

As summer winds on, bass begin moving to shallower water and feeding more aggressively-and topwater lures become choice baits. Here are five tips for better success on the surface:

1. Match the "Hatch" When bass begin feeding on larger shad in late summer, big, propeller-type lures get their attention by creating extra commotion on the surface. Bladed topwaters such as Heddon's Wounded Zara Spook, Smithwick's Devil's Horse, and Gilmore's Go-Getter are top choices.

2. Fish Deeper Water Cast to shallow water, of course, but don't forget that some bass haven't gotten there yet and will instead be suspended near the surface over deeper structure. Target these fish over points, breaklines, creek mouths, ridges, humps, and old roadbeds.

3. Watch the Weather Breezy conditions typically call for a faster, noisier retrieve, whereas calm conditions require the opposite. On especially calm days, consider switching to a lure with a more subtle action, such as a Zara Puppy or Strike King Spit-N-King. Under clear skies, which typically push bass tighter to cover, target stumps, stickups, and other objects, fishing each one thoroughly. Bass tend to roam under cloudy skies; so if the sun's not shining, cover more water with a faster retrieve.

**4. Use the Right Rod **Most topwater lures are worked by twitching the rod downward. With a long rod, you can end up hitting the water with the rod tip. Instead, use a 51/2- to 6-foot rod with a flexible tip.

5. Be Patient It's all too easy to miss fish by yanking back on your rod the second you see one surface near your bait. Wait until you feel the weight of the bass, then set the hook-and hold on tight.