Everyone loves topwater fishing and there are many options available to us anglers. Prop baits are a lure category that is often overlooked compared to walking baits, buzzbaits and other topwaters. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen relies on prop baits heavily in the spring and summer and shares some tips on how to catch more bass with them.
Spawn Focus for Prop Baits
Prop baits will work anytime a bass is willing to eat a topwater, but Lowen prefers likes to fish them around some type of spawn.
“It could be when bass are in the pre-spawn, post-spawn or even spawning. I also like it when the bass are keying on bedding bluegill or if there is a shad spawn going on,” he says.
Locations for the Technique
There is not just one type of location that is best for fishing a prop bait, but Lowen says that isolated cover is always a good bet.
“Many times with these baits you are fishing for individual fish and not schooling fish. I look for single trees, isolated grass and pockets in the vegetation,” he begins. “It is also a type of bait that you can just tie on and go down the bank fishing it.”
Prop Bait Retrieves
There are a multitude or retrieve options when it comes to fishing a prop bait, but like anything else, it is often best to experiment until you find what the fish want that particular day.
“With topwater fishing, there is always a cadence that is going to be better for that day. The fish will let you know how fast they want it and how long you should pause,” he says.
Lowen often fishes with a simple stop and go retrieve.
“I wouldn’t say it is a ‘jerk’, it is more like a ‘pull’ of the rod to get the blades to spin. I pull it then pause then pull again and will slow it down when I am around cover,” he says.
Another way to fish these baits is with a simple cast and retrieve mixed with some pauses.
“You can fish it just like you would a buzzbait with a steady reeling of the line. The cool thing about these baits is you can kill it when you by a target and give it a little twitch,” shares Lowen.
Gear and Color Choices for Throwing Prop Baits
Lowen keeps it very simple when selecting colors, either a bluegill or shad pattern depending on what the bass are keying on. When it comes to gear, he opts for a 6’10”, medium-heavy CastAway rod built for spinnerbaits.
“A good medium heavy rod will work but I like one with a soft tip to work the bait. I also like a 6.8:1 gear ratio Lew’s Magnesium and don’t use a faster reel like some guys do for topwater,” he shares.
He spools his reel up with 30-pound HI-SEAS Grand Slam braid. While some shy away from braid for prop baits due to the possibility of it wrapping around the blades, Lowen still prefers straight braid.
“It does wrap around the prop sometimes, but I just live with it and fix it. I would rather that than have an extra knot and leader. I am fine with that on spinning, but with heavy line, big fish and hard hooksets, my confidence is with straight braid.”
Know Your Prop Baits
There are several different types of prop baits on the market. Lowen uses several different versions and it varies on when he reaches for one over the other. Here are four different prop baits are part of his topwater arsenal.
This is available in a standard and a larger size called the HeliPs Grande. It is made of plastic and Lowen likes it over balsa baits in certain situations. “It’s heavier and sits lower in the water. This allows you to cast it farther and also work it faster,” he says.
PH Custom Lures Crazy Ace
This interesting looking topwater bait has a single prop at the back and cupped type mouth. “You can fish it like a prop bait, walk it or pop it. What I like about it though is you can get it to roll and it looks just like a dying shad or bluegill,” says Lowen.
PH Custom Lures Squeaky P
The Squeaky P is a balsa prop bait that Lowen really likes. “It has a nice subtle action and you can fish it slowly right above bluegill beds or near isolated targets.”
PH Custom Lures Wesley's Ploppin' P
This is a brand new bait on the market and it can be fished several ways. “You can fish it like a buzzbait or your standard rip, pause prop bait retrieve and it works great both ways,” adds the Elite Series pro.
There are many different prop baits on the market and nearly as many ways to fish them. These specialty topwater baits shine anytime bass are around the spawn or if they are feeding on spawning baitfish.