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Who among bass anglers doesn’t love the excitement of a topwater bite? Unfortunately, bass sometimes miss surface lures. When this happens anglers quick to react with follow-up bass baits still have a chance of hooking the fish. Here’s how to do it using four reliable throwback presentations.
Many baits can be used to trick bass into striking again after they miss a topwater. These four have proven themselves reliable picks in my boat.
Flipping jig – This is a great follow-up around mat, cut weed, lay down trees, and other heavy cover. Add a chunk or creature trailer to complete the package.
Stickbait – Bass can’t resist this finesse bait. A wacky-rigged four or five-inch stickbait with a strong hook outfitted with a brush guard is excellent around cover. In open areas, a finesse-type hook can be used.
Finesse plastic and jig – Casting a snack-sized finesse plastic on a light jig where a bass just boiled is another way to sweet talk fish into striking again. Small tubes, creature baits, worms, and minnows all work well.
Thin swimbaits – A three to four-inch boot-tail minnow is a great throwback when bass are willing to chase. I especially like swimbaits when bass are up-feeding on shad, smelt, and other forage.
After a bass swipes and misses a surface lure, make a mental note of the fish’s location while quickly retrieving the surface lure. Next, grab a rod rigged with a throwback bait and cast it to the fish.
When using jigs and stickbaits, I aim right for the ripple where the fish missed or the direction I last saw it swimming. With swimbaits, I’ll cast past the zone, then retrieve it through the strike zone.
The speed a bait sinks can influence whether a bass bites again. There’s no golden rule, so experiment to learn what works best for the day.
A heavy flipping jig crashing into the floor beneath a canopy of vegetation can trigger a reaction strike from a riled-up largemouth still looking for a meal. Other days, you’re better to pitch a stickbait in this zone and let its lazy fluttering action tease a hit from fish.
The same applies to smallmouth. A fast-falling tube is a great way to get their attention, while in other scenarios a slow-sinking finesse bait may be better.
Generally, I find slow-falling outproduce fast-falling bass baits in mid-deep to deep water. But, anything goes when smallmouth are shallow.
When a bass is relating to cover and misses a surface lure, I’ll make a couple repeated casts, maybe trying different bass baits, before leaving. If unsuccessful, I’m not above returning later to try again. This strategy is most effective with territorial fish, like a big largemouth under a laydown or a smallmouth relating to logs or boulders on a sand flat.
If bass are active and roaming the area, a few quick casts with a throwback is all I’m willing to invest. Then, it’s back to covering water with the topwater to intercept fish again.
Seeing a bass miss a topwater is disappointing, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. Quickly get another bait into the zone and you’ll set the hook on more second-chance bass.