Best Topwater Lures for Explosive Strikes (2024)

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person holding a largemouth bass caught on a topwater lure.
person holding a largemouth bass caught on a topwater lure.

Our Picks for Best Topwater Lures

Walking Baits:

Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg: This versatile bait is easy to walk and produces a seductive side-to-side action.

Megabass Megadog: Renowned for its lifelike swimming motion and exceptional casting distance.

Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil: This slender bait offers a subtle walk-the-dog action, perfect for finicky fish.


Rebel Pop-R: The original and still one of the best, this classic popper offers a loud popping sound and irresistible water displacement.

Heddon Zara Spook: A legendary lure with a wide, cupped mouth, generating a loud popping and "blooping" sound.

Rapala Skitter Pop: This popper features a cupped-plastic lip and a balsa wood body that create a commotion with one of the loudest spitting actions.

Prop Baits:

River2Sea Whopper Plopper: This popular bait boasts a spinning propeller that creates a loud buzzing sound and a distinctive wake.

Heddon Tiny Torpedo: This is a classic topwater prop bait with two propellers that churn and splash, creating surface disturbance. It's a versatile lure for bass and other freshwater gamefish.

Rapala X-Rap Prop Bait: This classic prop bait offers a lifelike swimming action and a subtle vibration that drives fish crazy.

Hollow Body Frogs:

Zoom Horny Toad: This soft-bodied frog features lifelike details and a unique kicking action that is irresistible to bass.

SPRO Bronzeye Frog: This frog features a realistic design and a hollow body that creates a gurgling sound when retrieved.

Jackall Gavacho Frog: This innovative frog features a weedless design and a unique "walking" action that can be fished around vegetation.

Topwater Fishing Tips and Techniques

To optimize your topwater success, consider these essential tips and techniques:

Rod and Reel Selection: Choose a casting rod with fast action for optimal lure control and a reel with a smooth drag system to handle aggressive strikes.

Line Choice: Braided line offers superior sensitivity for detecting subtle strikes, while fluorocarbon provides superior abrasion resistance.

Retrieves and Presentations: Experiment with different retrieve speeds and techniques to find what works best. Consider incorporating pauses and twitching motions to mimic the movements of natural prey.

Striking and Landing: Be prepared for explosive strikes and set the hook decisively. However, avoid striking too hard, as this can pull the lure away from the fish.

Topwater fishing is a thrilling and rewarding experience. By understanding the different types of topwater lures, choosing the right one for the conditions, and implementing effective techniques, you can unlock the explosive world of topwater fishing.

Remember, experimentation and practice are key. So grab your rod and reel, choose your lure, and get ready to experience the heart-stopping thrill of a topwater strike!

Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg Topwater LureStrike King KVD Sexy Dawg Topwater Lure
Megabass Megadog Topwater LureMegabass Megadog Topwater Lure
Yo Zuri 3DB Pencil Topwater LureYo Zuri 3DB Pencil Topwater Lure
Rebel Pop-R Topwater LureRebel Pop-R Topwater Lure
Heddon Zara SpookHeddon Zara Spook
Rapala Skitter Pop Topwater LureRapala Skitter Pop Topwater Lure
River2Sea Whopper Plopper Topwater LureRiver2Sea Whopper Plopper Topwater Lure
Heddon Tiny Torpedo Topwater LureHeddon Tiny Torpedo Topwater Lure
Rapala X-Rap Prop Topwater LureRapala X-Rap Prop Topwater Lure
Zoom Horny Toad Topwater LureZoom Horny Toad Topwater Lure
SPRO Bronzeye Frog Topwater LureSPRO Bronzeye Frog Topwater Lure
Jackall Gavacho Frog Topwater LureJackall Gavacho Frog Topwater Lure

There's something undeniably captivating about the explosive surface strikes that the best topwater lures can deliver. It's a primal experience, watching a hungry predator erupt from the depths to engulf your topwater fishing lure.

But with such a diverse array of topwater fishing lures available, choosing the right one can make all the difference between a rough day on the water and a successful one.

Let’s take a look at the different categories of topwater lures, how to choose the right ones, and then our picks for some of the best topwater baits in those categories.

Types of Topwater Lures

Topwater lures offer a visual and audible sensory overload to fish, which can trigger a predatory response. Here are the four main categories of topwater lures:

Walking Baits: Walking baits are a type of fishing lure designed to mimic the appearance and movement of a wounded or struggling prey on the water's surface. These lures typically feature a buoyant body and a concave or cupped face, allowing them to create a side-to-side or "walking" action when twitched or reeled in by the angler.

The erratic, zigzagging motion of walking baits imitates the vulnerable behavior of injured baitfish or other surface-dwelling prey, attracting predatory fish such as bass, pike, or musky. Anglers commonly use walking baits in topwater fishing scenarios, where the goal is to entice aggressive strikes from fish near the water's surface.

Poppers: A lure designed to attract fish by creating surface disturbance or commotion on the water. Typically used in freshwater or saltwater fishing, poppers are characterized by their concave or cup-shaped face, which allows them to make a popping or splashing sound when retrieved across the water's surface.

Anglers often use a jerking or twitching motion to impart action to the popper, imitating the movements of injured prey or struggling baitfish. This type of fishing technique is especially effective for species that feed near the surface, such as bass, trout, pike, and various saltwater gamefish.

Prop Baits: Prop baits, short for propeller baits, are designed to mimic injured or struggling prey on the water's surface. These baits typically feature one or more propellers that spin or create surface disturbance when retrieved, attracting predatory fish by simulating the commotion caused by wounded or distressed prey.

The spinning blades create ripples, splashes, and a distinctive noise, making prop baits effective for enticing fish, especially those that are known to target prey near the water's surface. Anglers often use prop baits to target species such as bass, pike, and musky in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

Hollow Body Frogs: Fishing lures designed to imitate a frog on the water's surface. These lures are characterized by their hollow, buoyant bodies, typically made of soft plastic or rubber, which allows them to float and create a lifelike presentation when retrieved across the water. The hollow design also enables the frog lure to collapse upon the fish's strike, exposing the hooks and increasing the chances of a successful hookset. Frogs have long been one of the best topwater fishing baits.

Anglers commonly use hollow body frogs in situations where fish are lurking in or near heavy vegetation, such as lily pads, grass mats, or other dense cover. The weedless nature of these lures, coupled with their ability to navigate through thick vegetation without snagging, makes them effective for enticing bass and other predatory fish that often seek refuge in such environments.

Anglers typically employ a walk-the-dog or popping retrieve to simulate the natural movement of a frog, creating enticing surface commotion that triggers predatory strikes. Hollow body frogs have become popular among bass anglers and are a go-to choice for topwater fishing in challenging, weedy conditions.

Choosing the Best Topwater Lures

The key to topwater success lies in choosing the best lure for your specific conditions and target species. Here are some factors to consider:

Freshwater vs. Saltwater: Different water environments demand different lure designs. For instance, saltwater anglers may prefer heavier lures to withstand strong currents, while freshwater fishermen might choose lighter options for finesse presentations.

Target Species: Matching the lure size and profile to the intended prey is crucial. Largemouth bass, for example, readily engulf larger offerings like the Heddon Zara Spook, while smaller panfish might favor the delicate dance of a Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil.

Water Conditions: Consider the water clarity and depth. Clear water calls fornatural-colored lures with subtle action, while murky conditions often benefit from brightly colored offerings with exaggerated movements.