With the spawn is full swing across the country, the time is near for topwater popper style baits to be effective around beds, bass guarding fry, and visible structure. Think about it: recent spawners will be hungry after procreating, and fry guarders will attack everything that they deem a threat. Bass are apex predators; anything and everything that moves in the water that can fit in their mouths is seen as a tasty treat. The question then becomes: what popper do I choose?
Bassmaster Opens Pro Michael Murphy (www.michaelmurphyfishing.com) spelled out his philosophy on this task a few years ago when I had the opportunity to pre-fish the Northern Open on the James River with him. Michael’s formula was the essence of simplicity: if the clouds are out, throw a popper with natural, more subdued coloration. If fishing in full sun, throw a popper with a metallic sheen. That’s it.
My first thoughts on his take were “it can’t be that simple”. Then I watched Michael employ his tactic around the James River successfully time and time again. Following Michael’s advice on topwater fishing should have been a no brainer, since I was fishing with his signature topwater Rosewood Series Rod from Denali Rods, but the fact that he employed the tactic successfully over several days of practice really hammered the idea home. Since then, I only carry two types of popper: one metallic, one natural, and I have had quite a bit of success employing his strategy on the water.
Topwater poppers are typically equipped with treble hooks, and like crankbaits, require a rod with a softer tip to avoid yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth on hook set. Ideally, since you are targeting cover and small target areas, a shorter rod is used to increase accuracy, which is why I use the Michael Murphy Signature Rosewood Topwater/Jerkbait rod from Denali Rods. I will use 22# Toray Bawo Finesse Braid with a two foot section of 16# Toray Bawo Superhard Premium Plus Fluorocarbon leader. For reasons why I employ this set up, check here: www.murphangler.com/front-deck/murphys-law-topwater-tip/.
Decision-making during a tournament is hard enough for most participants, narrowing choices down and employing the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) allows the tournament angler to concentrate more on reading changing conditions, and less on tackle selection. Chris Murphy