I am the first to admit that I am addicted to throwing topwater plugs. Whether I am stalking the flats of South West Florida for redfish and snook or hitting up the local ponds for largemouth bass, my hands down bait of choice is a low pitch topwater plug. Most experts will proclaim that the only time a floating plug is effective is in low light conditions. I laugh when I hear that the only time topwater is productive is at sunrise and sunset. Shear stubbornness has taught me differently. For me, if I can locate the targeted species and utilize the proper techniques, it is game on. Here are a couple of easy to follow pointers I follow when slinging my favorite plugs.
Having the proper equipment is a must. I prefer a seven foot-three inch medium action rod with a fast tip. This model allows me to really bomb long casts and has just a bit of give in the rod tip so the hooks do not pull on impact. I partner my rod with a 3000 series reel spooled with 10 pound braided line. I attach a three-foot section of monofilament leader. The mono acts as a shock absorber during those ferocious strikes that snook and redfish often supply. It will also make the plug run truer and float a little higher than the fluorocarbon leader I use in all other applications. Attach your favorite plug with a loop knot. When “Walking the Dog” this will maximize the lure’s action. It allows the plug to move freely along the loop, thus resulting in a more natural presentation.
Locate Your Target
Here in Florida, the most reliable way to locate inshore game fish is to find the mullet. Larger game fish look to eat them, while the smaller ones, including baitfish, take advantage of them stirring up the small creatures that reside on the bottom. Inshore areas void of mullet are usually also void of our targeted species.
Master the Technique
To get the most out of these lures, one needs to practice “Walking the Dog.” Most of these lures are weighted so they will exhibit the walking motion fairly easily, but it is up to the angler to perfect this technique. To Walk the Dog, one needs to manipulate the bait it moves side to side in a forward motion. Horizontally, it would look like this: Start /\/\/\/\/\/ Finish. A helpful hint is to have a little bit of slack in your line. When you jerk your rod tip away from the bait, try to bring it back to its starting position very quickly. This will allow the bait to dart from side to side because there is slack in the line. A taut line will only move the bait forward, similar to a popper. Remember to not try to set the hook on impact. You will just end up pulling the lure out of your quarry’s mouth. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish after the blowup. Then quickly reel the slack out of your line and keep constant pressure on the fish through the duration of the fight.
The Game Changer
It is like the Hobie Mirage Drive was invented with topwater fishing in mind. The simple fact is that hands free fishing leads to catching more fish when slinging plugs. Not having to continually grab for a paddle allows me to make more casts. Also, I do not have to correct kayak location with my paddle mid retrieval. Basic math tells me that the more I can increase the number of casts I make, the more fish I will land.