By John Crews
One of the biggest mistakes I see anglers of all levels make, especially beginner anglers, is not choosing the right line for fishing topwater baits. I hear story after story about losing that big bass on a topwater bait. Even this year, I heard a story from another pro angler. He said he lost a big one on a spook. My first question was about the line he was using. Let’s just say it was not the line would have used.
Line choice is pretty simple for me on topwaters. If the bait steady moves, I use braid. If it stops, I use a mono leader on braid. That is it. Simple. I can even use one rod with braid for most any topwater. I can just tie on a short leader of mono if I need it for that topwater.
Not all braid is equal.
After fishing professionally for 20 years, I have tried braided fishing line for about every bass fishing technique. I have also tried many different types of braids. For topwater braids, there is no better line than Sunline X-Plasma braided line, Asegai. The plasma coating on the line actually repels water so it does not get wet and sink. The line is super strong and very smooth. It ties great knots and leader knots. I use 30-pound test for most of my smaller baits like little buzz baits and spooks. Next up is 50-pound test. That is what I use on bigger buzz baits, Whopper Plopper 110s, toads, and frogs. About the only baits I will use on 60-pound braid is the Whopper Plopper 130 and Pencil Poppers.
For those baits that stop when you work them, I will use either 30- or 50-pound Sunline Asegai as the main line. Poppers, such as the new SPRO E-Pop, would see me using 30-pound braid to a 14-18-pound leader of Sunline Defier about 12-24” long. The nylon line is stiffer and stays up in the water column better so the action is correct. Rip baits like a Devil’s Horse need a similar braid to nylon leader setup. The size of the bait will dictate the size of the lines you use.
Why use the braid?
The braid is key to making the baits have the best action and getting the best hooks up. If you are fishing a SPRO frog in a thick milfoil bed, it makes sense that the braid will allow you to penetrate that Gamakatsu frog hook into the bass’ mouth once they eat it. The braid also allows you to just “haul in” the bass, grass, and all. As for walking baits, it seems like most of the bites come when you make a long cast. The braid allows you to make longer casts. The braid also allows you to get immediate hook sets way away from the boat since there is zero stretch in the line. Once that bass is on my spook style bait, I reel as fast as I can and don’t allow the bass to thrash around. Any bass less than 4 or 5 pounds just gets “water skied” to the boat and swung in.
We all love that giant blow up that bass are known for on topwater baits. After hundreds and hundreds of bass on those beloved topwater baits with braid as the line, I can tell you without a doubt that you will land more bass with braided line. Braid will also last for a year or more on a reel, even with lots of use. Once you make the switch to braid on topwaters, you will not go back!