Tyler Clark is a tournament pro from northern Alabama. After fishing the College Kayak Series and winning local and national tournaments, Clark has dialed in his topwater action. Alabama is a diverse fishery with lakes, ponds and rivers holding largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Each species and every scenario calls for a different topwater presentation. Clark says, “Out of all the ways to catch fish, topwater makes my heart skip a beat.”

Best Bass Fishing Baits and Lures: Topwater

When to Use a Topwater Lure

My three favorite styles of topwater are a popper, prop bait and spook. In spring and fall, I will go with a walking-style lure because the fish move shallow to feed on shad. In fall, I’ll throw a prop-style lure in the shallows. In summer, I like to use a popper. When I see shad on the surface, I go with a walking topwater. When I fish around cover like laydowns, docks or scattered grass, I pick up the walking or prop-bait. When the water is calm, I use a popper to create commotion and attract the fish. Waves and wind require a walking lure.

boom. Photo: Tyler Clark
Boom.| Photo: Tyler Clark

How to Use a Topwater Lure

When it comes to a popper, I like to use a pop-pause method. Depending on time of year, I may let it have a longer pause. If the fish are active, I’ll give it a shorter pause. For the prop bait, I use a steady retrieve. If the fish are super active or missing the lure, I’ll kill the propbait retrieve and give the line a twitch to imitate an injured baitfish. With the walking lure, I use a steady walk-the-dog retrieve.

How to Choose a Topwater Lure

My philosophy is simple is better. Colors are not complicated. I always carry a shad pattern, a darker color and white. If I see shad, I go with the shad pattern. If it is overcast, I will use a darker color. When the sun is out, white is my choice.

Best Topwater Lures for Bass

Berkley J-Walker Fishing Hard Bait

Berkley J-Walker Fishing Hard Bait


Berkley Choppo Fishing Hard Bait

Berkley Choppo Fishing Hard Bait


Topwater Tackle Box

Rod: 7-foot, medium-heavy with a fast tip.

Reel: Lews Speed Spool with 7.1:1 gear ratio.

Line: 20-pound copolymer line for the strength of braid with the stretch of monofilament.

“Topwater makes my heart skip a beat.” | Photo: Tyler Clark
“Topwater makes my heart skip a beat.” | Photo: Tyler Clark

Topwater Memories

One of the best days of kayak fishing I was using topwater. I was fishing a local spot when all the right conditions came together. It was springtime, the bass had started to move up shallow but had not started to spawn yet. I launched just before sunrise and headed to my first spot of the day. The water was calm and there was hardly any wind. I tied on a Berkley Bullet Pop in ghost pattern. Within the first hour of fishing in the first spot, I had caught eight fish with several in the three- to four-pound range. The fishing was so good, I was home in time for breakfast.

This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.


“Topwater makes my heart skip a beat.” | Feature photo: Tyler Clark



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