Topwaters and surface baits, longtime bass fishing staples, are popular for smallmouths. They are hard to beat when surface activity is prevalent, the lakes are heating up from the sunlight above, and insect hatches take place. When either of these conditions are in play, topwaters often get eaten quickly, and generate vicious strikes. One particular surface lure I enjoy fishing with is the new Rapala X-Rap Pop. In this short film from early June, my friend Zach Quinn and I fish a Vilas County Wisconsin lake for smallmouth bass. With 72 degree water temperatures, we encounter a ferocious topwater bite on mid-lake structures – a pattern that generally doesn’t develop until the dog days of summer. Surface poppers and the Rapala X-Rap Pop nailed fish.
Size: 600 acres
Lake Type: Oligotrophic
Maximum Depth: 40 feet
Avg. Depth Fished: 5 to 15 feet
Water Clarity: Moderately clear
Primary Fishery: Musky, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass
Areas of Focus: Mid Lake Rock Bars
Time of Day: Late afternoon
Rod & Reel: 6 ft 10 in. Quantum Energy PT (medium heavy fast) Quantum Energy 100PTi
Line: Cortland Camouflage 10 lb.
Lure Used: Rapala X-Rap Pop
Big poppin’. Big splashin’. Big bassin’. The X-Rap Pop brings X-Rap attitude to topwater. Starting in a tail down position, its arched body shape sets lure up for a large kerplunk-pop and splash with every snap, even the slightest tug and the X-Pop comes to life. With the X-Rap textured translucent body, internal holographic foil, 3D holographic eyes fish can’t resist. Internal long cast mechanism allows you to fish vast amounts of water without changing spots. Internal rattle adds to the noise and commotion. VMC black nickel hooks with flash feather teaser tail seal the deal with reluctant fish that are taunted to strike during slight pauses between snaps. With quick tip down snaps, you can even get the X-Rap Pop to walk-the-dog!
If you have never experienced the thrill of catching smallmouth bass with surface lures, and witnessing the aerial acrobatics of the fight, then you aren’t living well enough as a bass fisherman – and quite frankly I don’t know what you’re doing and whether you should even consider yourself a bass angler, especially one who fishes for smallmouths. You get to manipulate the bait so it may entice strikes, you often see the fish stalk and strike the lure and it can be a good way to catch a big fish when other techniques fail. All of this combines to give anglers a love topwater fishing. What’s not to love about aggressively fishing topwaters like this?
Released in 2012, the Rapala X-Rap pop is designed to out-perform other poppers on the market. As illustrated in the video by my technique, the Rapala X-Rap Pop features a specially designed thin-cut cupped mouth that pops, spits and bulges just like a shad on the surface. It also delivers long casting capabilities, and is designed to sit tail down when at rest for a better hook up percentage. A loud, hypnotizing rattle calls fish up from the deep, and its VMC teaser hook offers additional action even on the pause. Available in a range of proven Rapala colors, the Rapala X-Rap Pop can even walk-the-dog if you pair it with a split ring.
Topwaters are among the most exciting baits you can fish for bass. Besides, they’re often very productive and can sometimes out-fish other techniques – like on this afternoon outdoing all other techniques. In general, topwaters are most effective in warm water, and are most effective in the early morning, late evening and during the calm before an approaching storm like Zach and I had on this afternoon.