Its early morning, the sun is just peaking its head over the mountains, there is the cool mist in the air and your speeding across the lake to that shallow flat that always holds bass early during the warmer months. You shut down the big motor, place the trolling motor into the water and pick up the rod from the deck and proceed to cast your Rago Alpha Ratwhat seems like a country mile. It hits the water and you begin the slow roll while you feel your heart beating in your chest in anticipation of what’s next then all of the sudden out of the water explodes a big ole bass. His body completely clears the water and he lands mouth first onto your lure. Your heart beat races as you wait until you feel the pressure of the bass on your line. Finally you feel the tug so you set the hook and the fight is on!
Does the above sound familiar? I personally feel that one of the easiest ways to tell if you’re really a true fisherman at heart is if you agree that there’s not any style of fishing that beats the adrenalin rush you get from seeing a bass explode on your lure.
I remember when dad first took me bass fishing at a very young age we arrived at the lake early in the morning during the dog days of summer and I caught my first bass on a surface lure and I was hooked for life on bass fishing. Yes its true, any fishing is good but surface fishing is GOODER.
Surface lure fishing is generally thought of as a early morning pattern and for the most part this is true but the bottom line is you can catch bass on a surface lure anytime they are actively feeding, even during the middle of the day in the dead of winter. I always keep a rod on the deck with a surface lure tied on just in case I’m fishing along and all of the sudden the bass start busting shad on the surface.
There are all kinds of different lures you can use for surface fishing. Some of my favorites are as follows.
The tried and true Zara Spook, this lure has been around forever and for good reason, they flat out catch bass. They do however have their issues but with a little modification they can be made considerably better. First off, the stock hooks gotta go! Replace them with some good quality hooks. I like to add a custom dressed and tweaked Diachii Bleeding Treble hook to the rear and a standard one up front, some people like to add a red hook up front to simulate blood but I do something different which I’ll tell you about in just a few.
Next add split rings between the hook and the mounting bracket on the lure. The way these are setup from the factory they limit the movement of the hook and when a bass shakes his head he can use the limiting as leverage to throw your hook. With the split rings the hooks will swing more freely. I then take red fingernail polish and paint gills on the under side which simulates a blood line. Then I take the wife’s diamond sparkle fingernail polish and paint the underside of the lure as well as up the sides a little to give it some flash. The reason I don’t paint the top of the lure is because when a bass is looking up at the lure all he is going to see is the bottom and the sides as your walking the dog so there is no real reason to fancy up the top, in my opinion.
Of course if you have the extra cash you can purchase an already modified version of the Spook by getting the Lucky Craft Sammy’s. These lures are great right out of the box but I still modify them just because. I’ll add the custom dressed treble hook to the rear and highlight the gills, other than that not much needs to be done. One added feature of the Sammy is it not only walks like a Spook but it also spits kind of like a Pop-R because it has a little concave mouth, great design!
Another great bait is the 22nd Century Triple Trout, which come in surface as well as sinking models
Next would have to be the Popper type baits. Yes you can modify the original Pop-R but you can also purchase the modified ones that work great right out of the box. I like to use the Ivino Splash It myself. They are a little cheaper than the Yellow Magic and I know that at least the older versions of the Splash It were actually just modified Rico’s. The reason I know this is because I had worn the paint off on one of my favorite ones and underneath the paint was the Rico name. Things that make you go hmmm.
Then of course you’ve got the good ole Buzz Bait. What this thing looks like to a bass is a mystery to me. My guess is it is just something that makes allot of noise and stirs up the water so much that it angers the bass and he just has to kill it. Whatever they think it is the things do work.
Next would have to be a frog. The frog lure have been around for years and at least for me have always produced good quality bass. It has always been one of my secret go to baits but with the recent publicity it has gotten its not such a secret anymore. Don’t be afraid to give these a try, they just might surprise you.
And my favorite would have to be the Sluggo type baits, aka soft jerk baits. These things are deadly. They can be worked on the surface, just below the surface and down deep pending on how you rig them. You will need a big hook when using these type’s of baits because there is allot of plastic involved. I’m about to share with you my favorite way of rigging these lures but don’t tell anyone because it is a secret. I fish 2 Sluggos at the same time, one in 6 inch the other in 4 so it looks like the bigger one is chasing the smaller one. This drives the bass crazy. I have on more than one occasion caught 2 bass doing this, that is how effective it is.
The way I rig it is I’ll take 2 size 10 or 12 black barrel swivels without the clips, yes they are small. Next I’ll take 2 lengths of line, one about 12-16 inches the other about 20-24 inches. Tie the leaders of line to the swivels, next slide the swivel with the shorter leader onto your main line and then tie on the swivel with the longer leader. I then attack a 1/0 wide gap hook to the shorter lead and a 3/0 wide gap to the longer one. Put the 4 inch lure on the shorter leader with the smaller hook and guess where the 6 inch one goes? Yep you got it. I tried using the good old 3 way swivel for this rig but in my opinion with the swivel being fixed you don’t get the freedom of movement you get when the shorter leader can slide up and down your main line.
As far as what equipment to use while surface fishing, it all depends on what lure your fishing with and where. I know I personally prefer a heavier line, 12-18 pound test, yes out here in Californian that is considered heavy line. The reason for the heavier line is it tends to float better than light line and this helps keeps the nose of your lure up. Braided line also floats very well so it another fine choice. When I use braid I like the Daiwa Samurai Braid. Yes, it is pretty spendy but I really like the way it fishes. Of course if your fishing in open water you can use lighter line and just break out your Chap Stick and rub it on about the first 4 feet of your line, this will help the line float.
My rod choice also depends on what and where I am fishing. I’ll use a heavier action around cover and lighter in open water. If I had to pick just one rod for surface fishing my preference would have to be a 7 foot Medium/Heavy Rod. I have found that the 7.3 Heavy Kistler Helium 3 works very well for most top water applications, unless of course your throwing a big bait then you would need an Ztra Heavy Kistler Rod
Now the absolute best tip for fishing any surface lure. WAIT UNTIL YOU FEEL PRESSURE BEFORE SETTING THE HOOK! Yes, it can be difficult to wait when you see he bass explode but if you don’t wait until you feel the pressure of him on the line I can promise you that chances are when you go to set the hook you will not hook him. Yes, we all have done it in the past and yes we all will continue to do it future but like I said, if you wait I promise you that your strike/hookup ratio will improve.
Next time get out on the water early and try tossing a surface lure and see if your heart does not pound considerably harder when you see the bass blow up on your lure. Surface fishing…………WHAT A RUSH!
Thanks for visiting my site. Be sure to tell all of your fishing buddies and come back soon!
Until Next Time, Good Luck and Tight Lines To Ya!