Spring has sprung and with the birds singing and the redbuds blooming it’s a sign of great things to come. Like springtime topwater action! There is nothing better than a good topwater bite in the morning or anytime you can get it. Spring is a great time to catch a giant bass and a topwater bait might just be the bait to trigger it into biting.
Bass are moving to the shallows in the spring to spawn as well as to gorge after a long winters nap. They are hungry and find it hard to resist a topwater bait. There is nothing like a bass exploding on your topwater bait and a great springtime topwater bait is the infamous Rebel Pop-R. There are many topwater baits on the market today because they work and while the Hula Popper had its day the Rebel Pop-R has stood the test of time.
Anybody that has been around bass fishing for any length of time has heard of and probably used a Rebel Pop-R. The Pop-R came onto the scene in 1976 and really never caught on at first and was dropped from the Rebel lineup. This was great news for tournament anglers as they used the Pop-R with great success until the secret was leaked and by 1987 the Rebel Pop-R was back to stay. It became one of the best selling lures in company history. Sales continue to this day because the Pop-R works.
Pop-R’s can be worked a few different ways and can call bass from 20 feet deep in clear water provided you find the presentation the bass desire. Pop-R’s can be worked slow or fast and it is even possible to “walk the dog” with the Pop-R. Finding the cadence and action the bass want on a particular day will take a little experimenting on the anglers part. Sometimes the bass want the Pop-R worked slow with long pauses between pops while other times the bass want the bait worked fast with non-stop chugs all the way to the boat.
It helps to have an idea on what the bass might want on any given day just as a starting point. If the weather has been stable and the water temp is rising into the upper 50’s or 60 degree range then you can start with a fast cadence as the bass are probably active. Working the Pop-R with a steady retrieve with just a microsecond pause between pops can work well when bass are active and it also allows you to cover more water looking for active bass.
Another great fast pace cadence with a little less pop and more of a splash or spit action is to walk the dog with your Pop-R. It takes practice and I have yet to master it but it works. Walking the dog with a Pop-R is done in the same manner your would walk the dog with a Zara Spook or Sammy but the Pop-R doesn’t glide along like those baits therefore requires a little more practice. Sometimes this technique is what the bass want so it is a great presentation to add to your arsenal.
The Pop-R is an awesome search bait in the spring when bass are spawning. Oftentimes the bass will only boil on the bait to try to scare it away from their bed. This will pinpoint where the bass is spawning. A great tactic is to follow the boil with a wacky worm or Texas rigged craw letting it sit on the bottom where the bass boiled on your bait forcing it to pick the bait up to move it from its bed and allowing you a chance to set the hook.
A good Pop-R set up would include a 6’ 6” medium action rod with a high speed reel spooled with 12 to 15 pound test monofilament. You need a shorter rod to be able to easily work the Pop-R with a downward motion. Any longer rod than the 6’6” makes it a little awkward because the rod tip can hit the waters surface unless you are a tall angler. The high speed reel allows you to get the Pop-R back to the boat and make another cast to a new target quickly. It also can be vital when you see a bass boil on some bait fish in the middle of your cast and you want to get your Pop-R to that spot before it’s too late. Monofilament is another vital part of tackle used with any topwater bait in that it floats better than other lines. When your line sinks it can cause the Pop-R to dive which isn’t what you want. You can even put dry fly dressing on a couple feet of the line to make it even more buoyant.
Topwater time is here and what a great time to be on the water chasing bass with a Pop-R and enjoying the excitement it brings especially with young anglers. If you can get on a good topwater bite and you want to get a kid hooked on bass fishing bring them along. I promise it won’t take that many times when a big bass explodes on their Pop-R to etch an indelible impression into their minds making every spring to them a time to throw a Pop-R.