Topwaters and Redfish

Jake Haddock
Topwaters and Redfish
Early morning topwater wade.
I can't think of anything I enjoy more than watching a big redfish crush a topwater. When you watch a redfish hit a topwater, it's as if time stands still for a few seconds. The next best thing is the hook set. You could compare it to setting the hook on a bass with a crankbait, because if you don't feel the fish first, then the fish doesn't have the lure. When you see the fish blow-up on your topwater your first reaction might be to set the hook immediately, but this is wrong. Let the fish take it for a few seconds, wait to feel the fish, and reel in any slack in your line. Now, slightly set the hook.

Let's talk about some of the tackle that is necessary for chasing fish with topwaters. The first and most important to me is monofilament line, which is a key component of setting the hook on and fighting a fish. A braided line would just rip the hook out of the fish's mouth if the drag is set very tight. Monofilament, also known as mono, stretches, allowing the treble hooks to bury themselves and remain there. During the fight, the line will have a rubber band action and will not permit the hooks to rip out. Another important aspect is the rod you are using. In my opinion, a rod between 6'6 and 7'0 ft. in a medium-fast action is the best combination. Many people swear by a 6'6 rod, but I have used a 7 foot rod for many years without a problem; it's a personal opinion I guess. Additionally, a high quality reel like a Shimano doesn't hurt either. The main reason I say Shimano is their production of Super Free bearings and the braking or casting control system they have, which are those little green or red friction sleeves that sit on the outer edge of the spool. The best all around setting for me is to pull two out for most situations; one directly across from the other. Lastly, you need to either use a snap or a loop knot to connect the line to the lure, as this allows maximum action of your topwater.

On days when the fish are finicky, you can fan cast a topwater until you get a few blow-ups, then go back to that area with a soft plastic or Corky. This is a great way to put numbers on the board when other people may be passing fish up. Just like everything else, you've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. For example, if you are in a foot of water and you're seeing fish swim by, but they are scared of your big topwater and swimming away from it, that is when you cut it off and put it back in the wading box. At that point, you should pull out something like a Hogie shad-tail and reel it in front of their face. More times than not, they will eat it.

Now that you know when not to throw topwater, here are a few hints for when you do. First off, use it early in the morning, and it doesn't really matter where either, because every spot can be a topwater spot early in the morning. Another great place is when you're on a shoreline that has a quick drop off, or if it has deep potholes or guts, such as the guts between sand bars in the surf. My favorite of all is when I am in a back pond or on a flat that has scattered depressions or potholes. All you have to do is slowly work your topwater over the potholes and it's just a matter of time before a hungry redfish inhales your lure.

Selection of your topwater is all about trial and error. Some days the fish will want a big, loud, chartreuse-colored topwater, and other days they may want a small white one. Therefore, it always helps to have a variety of topwaters on the boat or in your wading box. Also, a lot of topwaters aren't made for fishing in saltwater. They come equipped with small split rings and weak hooks that are intended for freshwater panfish. This is a problem when you get around big redfish because they will break the hook or split ring in half. The solution is to replace them. Most stores that carry fishing tackle should have thicker stainless steel split rings and corrosion resistant hooks that should say extra strong on the box. Also, you may want to consider going up a size larger with the new hooks than what the lure came with. This should get you a higher hook-up percentage and less grass accumulation on your hooks. Now you're ready for big redfish.

Learning how to effectively use a topwater is one of the most important skills that you will ever learn while fishing the Texas coast. The best way to learn how to work a topwater is to go out to a local pond and practice. One very helpful thing to remember while working a topwater is that it's all in your rhythm. So next time you're out fishing, throw a topwater and don't be surprised if you have the best fishing day of your life.