I don't know about you, but I always found it a little strange how I can drop a Top Water lure out of my hand, and it (never fails) always gets hooked in me, requiring surgery to remove it! But a Trout, Redfish, or Snook and take a couple of swings at it or worse, roll on it like a dog diving into a cow flop and then pop off?
So, here are some tips to help keep those fish on that manage to pop free after plowing into your Skitter Walk / Top Dog lures and stay hooked up that should help you some...
First, a little explanation of what can happen so that you both can see and feel how they can become unbuttoned after striking them can occur. Carefully take one of your favorite Top Water lures and hold the lure in the middle of one hand, then slowly rotate the lure while holding steady onto the rear treble hook. You will find that after a rotation of about 200 degrees or so, the hook will become tight as it binds up on the rear split ring, and then from that point, it will start rotating along with the lure. Now picture a fish that likes to roll one of these baits after hitting it at Mach 2 and twisting simultaneously. Redfish and Big Gator Trout (worse Tarpon) tend to do just that... Now you see why you can lose those fish, they roll over or flop around enough that if those conditions are just right to pop the hook free, Bummer...
Then, some time back, it came to help (not cure 100% of the time naturally) that condition. It only needs to be done on the rear treble hook since if you apply this modification to both hooks, they can get latched together when it lands. The trick is to install a quality barrel swivel in between the rear lure split ring and then add another split ring to the hook itself. I have found that a Spro Power Swivel in the #6 size that is rated for 80 pounds (way more robust than your other weak links like the line) works well and seems to hold up to Saltwater use with no issues IF (as you should always do) washed off it after such abuse. With this little upgrade, now the dude can roll all around with your Top Water lure like a Gator in a death roll, and if you keep the line from going slack, you should keep them hooked up 😊
Below is an example photo of a new one out of the box and one under it with some upgrades done that has been through as many dogfights with Reds and Trout as some (pun intended) NFL Quarterbacks we know, And so much so that all the Pro Cure scent I have put on the lure and water has now stained it some.
Other tips to help you with your post-strike hook-up ratio:
· I use the Mono line for my top water work. Not only does it float and not pull the lure down, but it also does not impede the “Walk the Dog” action as much. Mono also has some stretch factor, which acts like a shock absorber for the first few critical seconds of an actual hard strike!
· Press those Barbs on the hooks down… Barbs are placed on hooks to help hold on (a bad word I know) “Live Bait” and can slow down the hook's ability to get into the front end of anything much less something like a Tarpon with a mouth-like cinder block.
· Having the Barbs pressed down will also come in handy when trying to remove said lure hook from your calf, ear, cheek, or worse! Been there, done that… It's not fun, but it's much better without a barb to contend with and that feeling like someone in the movie Braveheart screaming out the word “Freedom” while trying to get it dug back out of you while bleeding like a stuck pig! 😮
· As you can see, I like changing the front hook to a red one. Red fades with distance underwater very quickly and around 6 feet. However, once the fish is within that distance, I feel it gives the lure a gill-like look and appearance by being red. And no, I have not taken the time to drop into excel strike ratios between the ones with or without a red hook 😊
· Learn how to tie a loop knot. They allow almost any type of lure to walk, suspend, or have a more natural look and action by being able to swing more freely. Brother Blair shows how to tie the same I use below and never had a failure with it (plus). You can easily adjust the size of the loop with practice...
· Take the time to learn along with a good ear and smart thumb I agree (it is the sound of the spool slowing down is the secret when using one) but if you will fine-tune the clutch and magnets every time you tie on a new lure… The top water game is much more efficient, and you will have much better control for covering water quickly when using a low profile and shorter Baitcaster reel and rod combo.
· And let’s not forget about the scent on the lure! You just tied it on with sunscreen-covered hands or other unnatural smells from the oils from your fingers. Take the time to apply some more or the Pro Cure scent back onto them to help mask/cover that backup. I like this all-around version, but others work well, And hard to be wrong if your lure looks and smells/tastes like that local forage you are seeing “right now” while working that body of water.
Some more tips on how to work these types of baits can be found here:
Hope this helps you improve your strike and hook-up ratios when using these lures! This topic is discussed more on two of our Podcasts with Captain Honson Lau and Captain Tommy Derringer (episodes 10 and 11) if you would like to improve your skills even more! Both of those shows can be found by clicking Here.
In the meantime,
We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:
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Or just click on our Flag below to take you to that section to land some for yourself and family/friends who enjoy their time here on Flats Nation 😎
Tight Lines, and God Bless!
Dave and the Team