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RiverSmallieGuy

Small Topwaters: Weight, Body Shape, Line Tie, Oh My!

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What do you guys do for your topwater walkers to get an aggressive, super stable bait that will instead of just the zig-zag action, do the zig-zag but have not move forward a ton with each twitch. Some baits will literally travel farther because they are zig-zagging in a tight, but wide manner. I am saying tight in the sense that the bait doesn't move forward much on each twitch, but will dart far out to each side with minimal forward progress. I know that properly managing the slack in your line plays a big role in that, but is there a way to design the lure so that it is easier to get the lure to do that? Does line tie position or belly shape influence this? (Edit: I have done searches, but couldn't find anything on this specific topic.)

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3 minutes ago, RiverSmallieGuy said:

What do you guys do for your topwater walkers to get an aggressive, super stable bait that will instead of just the zig-zag action, do the zig-zag but have not move forward a ton with each twitch. Some baits will literally travel farther because they are zig-zagging in a tight, but wide manner. I am saying tight in the sense that the bait doesn't move forward much on each twitch, but will dart far out to each side with minimal forward progress. I know that properly managing the slack in your line plays a big role in that, but is there a way to design the lure so that it is easier to get the lure to do that? Does line tie position or belly shape influence this?

Also, does wood buoyancy affect this? I have a lot of balsa and basswood, but don't know which one to use. The clear coat is going to be BSI 30 minute Slow-Cure epoxy, with one thick coat. Gar are present in the waters I would fish for smallmouth in. Other than that, just bass.

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I like to use balsa and weight the tail heavily.  Near vertical presentation.   They will cast a long way and don't travel much when working the bait.  Caught 1000's of smallies in the local creek on them.

During college caught a lot of gar on a 7 ft ultralight set up.  Used nylon rope lures that the frayed portion tangled in the gar's teeth and targeted them in the pools in a shallow river near the campus.

Edited by Travis
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I only dabbled a little with spook style top waters because I don’t really fish them 

they few I made were with western red cedar. Also weighted so they were tail down and probably sat roughly on a 45. I used a basic minnow shape with a turned up nose.

They worked caught a few fish on them but would not say I made anything special 

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16 hours ago, Hillbilly voodoo said:

I only dabbled a little with spook style top waters because I don’t really fish them 

they few I made were with western red cedar. Also weighted so they were tail down and probably sat roughly on a 45. I used a basic minnow shape with a turned up nose.

They worked caught a few fish on them but would not say I made anything special 

Yeah, spook style baits are my favorite technique, especially for creek/river smallmouth. What I have noticed, however, is that generally the tighter, quicker walking lures get more bites, but the slower, wider walkers get bigger bites. I tend to associate this with drawing power, just like a 2pc glider-- the wider the walk/glide, the more drawing power. How do I get a super wide walk, because I kinda know how to achieve it, but not completely. If you look at baits like the Megabass Dog-X Speed Slide, which has a super smooth, wide walk, and Quick Walker, which has a super aggressive snapping darting action that is far tighter than the Speed Slide and they have the same body, but walk completely different. I think this is partially because of how they sit in the water, the Quick Walker sits at roughly a 45 degree angle on the surface, and the Speed Slide sits at roughly a 20 degree angle. 

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1 hour ago, RiverSmallieGuy said:

Yeah, spook style baits are my favorite technique, especially for creek/river smallmouth. What I have noticed, however, is that generally the tighter, quicker walking lures get more bites, but the slower, wider walkers get bigger bites. I tend to associate this with drawing power, just like a 2pc glider-- the wider the walk/glide, the more drawing power. How do I get a super wide walk, because I kinda know how to achieve it, but not completely. If you look at baits like the Megabass Dog-X Speed Slide, which has a super smooth, wide walk, and Quick Walker, which has a super aggressive snapping darting action that is far tighter than the Speed Slide and they have the same body, but walk completely different. I think this is partially because of how they sit in the water, the Quick Walker sits at roughly a 45 degree angle on the surface, and the Speed Slide sits at roughly a 20 degree angle. 

This is simply a guess because I have not attempted it but basing it off of things I know regarding other lures like jerk baits 

likely a lighter more buoyant, and that sits on less of an angle will achieve a wider walk. Basically you are limiting drag so it should achieve more movement with each twitch 

hopefully someone with more experience will chime in to confirm if this is correct or not

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1 minute ago, Hillbilly voodoo said:

This is simply a guess because I have not attempted it but basing it off of things I know regarding other lures like jerk baits 

likely a lighter more buoyant, and that sits on less of an angle will achieve a wider walk. Basically you are limiting drag so it should achieve more movement with each twitch 

hopefully someone with more experience will chime in to confirm if this is correct or not

I know that placing most of the weight at the tail will give you a wide walk, but at the same time, it would put the tail down in the water more, or at least I think so. What I have noticed with the walking lures I have made is that if you put most of the weight at the tail and a little bit in the lowest part of the belly, I will get that walking action where the head completely turns around. I also think that a lure with very large, protruding carved gills will help with that because the water could vortex off the sharp edge of the gills force the head to the side more. I have also made topwaters that have a mouth like the Roman Made Mothers and the Negotiators, and found that it limits the width of the walk it causes it to pop and spit. Another thing that I believe is that if you make the lure's body thinner and less chunky, it will result in a wider walk because it is more hydrodynamic. If you make your bait too tall, then it will roll a ton as well. How should I combine all of these factors to get a bait that does what I want it to do?

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46 minutes ago, RiverSmallieGuy said:

I know that placing most of the weight at the tail will give you a wide walk, but at the same time, it would put the tail down in the water more, or at least I think so. What I have noticed with the walking lures I have made is that if you put most of the weight at the tail and a little bit in the lowest part of the belly, I will get that walking action where the head completely turns around. I also think that a lure with very large, protruding carved gills will help with that because the water could vortex off the sharp edge of the gills force the head to the side more. I have also made topwaters that have a mouth like the Roman Made Mothers and the Negotiators, and found that it limits the width of the walk it causes it to pop and spit. Another thing that I believe is that if you make the lure's body thinner and less chunky, it will result in a wider walk because it is more hydrodynamic. If you make your bait too tall, then it will roll a ton as well. How should I combine all of these factors to get a bait that does what I want it to do?

The factors you are mentioning are all things that limit drag B)
 

build a basic spook that is a thinner minnow profile, lighter buoyant wood, keep your weighting minimal and try it out

personally I don’t think the flared gills will help other then and artistic look

sometimes you just need to build a few basic baits to test theories on action 

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Just now, Hillbilly voodoo said:

The factors you are mentioning are all things that limit drag B)
 

build a basic spook that is a thinner minnow profile, lighter buoyant wood, keep your weighting minimal and try it out

personally I don’t think the flared gills will help other then and artistic look

sometimes you just need to build a few basic baits to test theories on action 

Other words, drag determines most actions with walkers. That helps.

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You just need to take your design and make a half/dozen of them and weight differently.  The more weight you get in the back the less glide you get.  I like to get the weight as far back and as low as possible for zippy action for creek smallies.

The bigger the water the more likely I am to use a wider/slower walking bait and start to shift the weight to the belly.  In many of the smallie creeks I am fishing the fish are naturally stacked up in the "deeper" water after riffles.   They aren't shy about getting to a lure as they are just trying to out compete the others in the pool.  No need to give them a look at the bait.  

The classic wooden sammie style is still hard to beat in my opinion (might want to search blackjack,  wooden sammie).

Edited by Travis
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1 minute ago, Travis said:

You just need to take your design and make a half/dozen of them and weight differently.  The more weight you get in the back the less glide you get.  I like to get the weight as far back and as low as possible for zippy action for creek smallies.

The bigger the water the more likely I am to use a wider/slower walking bait and start to shift the weight to the belly.  In many of the smallie creeks I am fishing the fish are naturally stacked up in the "deeper" water after riffles.   They aren't shy about getting to a lure as they are just trying to out compete the others in the pool.  No need to give them a look at the bait.  

The classic wooden sammie style is still hard to beat in my opinion.

I am still going to carve detailed gills and if I feel super fancy I may carve scales. I am 100% NOT using cedar or pine for this. Basswood is so much better for gill carvings. Basswood is among the best carving woods, and it is very light, which lends itself to baits like this. And yes, smallmouth are generally going to use the best available cover in their pool, walking baits, flukes, small swimbaits, jigs, ned rigs, it doesn't matter a whole lot. Smallmouth, like all bass, are very opportunistic, so they will take a shot at whatever you're presenting... If they want to, of course...

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49 minutes ago, Travis said:

You just need to take your design and make a half/dozen of them and weight differently.  The more weight you get in the back the less glide you get.  I like to get the weight as far back and as low as possible for zippy action for creek smallies.

The bigger the water the more likely I am to use a wider/slower walking bait and start to shift the weight to the belly.  In many of the smallie creeks I am fishing the fish are naturally stacked up in the "deeper" water after riffles.   They aren't shy about getting to a lure as they are just trying to out compete the others in the pool.  No need to give them a look at the bait.  

The classic wooden sammie style is still hard to beat in my opinion (might want to search blackjack,  wooden sammie).

dude, as I was reading what you said in your first paragraph about topwater, that is great insight on topwaters... Thank you. but how do you minimize forward progress of the bait but maximize it's width of walk?

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I built some top water stick baits 5 to 7 " long modeled similar to Super Spook and got a basswood 5" to walk about 18" wide.  I weighted them toward the rear of the bait but I did not weight it so much that the tail was down much, just sat low in the water.  For a good glide, lighter front, heavier back end when you jerk-release, it yanks the front of the bait to the opposite side and the forward motion push of the weight drives the front around more due to unstable flight.  Similar to shoot an arrow with the weight in the back see what happens, shoot an arrow with the weight in the front goes far. 

I learned about that repairing a friends Lunker Punker.  So for a good glide, a nearly level bait, weighed on back half, and overall weight are all beneficial to a good glide. And I think if you want to do that and minimize forward motion, a shorter bait is better than a longer bait.

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11 hours ago, barrybait said:

I built some top water stick baits 5 to 7 " long modeled similar to Super Spook and got a basswood 5" to walk about 18" wide.  I weighted them toward the rear of the bait but I did not weight it so much that the tail was down much, just sat low in the water.  For a good glide, lighter front, heavier back end when you jerk-release, it yanks the front of the bait to the opposite side and the forward motion push of the weight drives the front around more due to unstable flight.  Similar to shoot an arrow with the weight in the back see what happens, shoot an arrow with the weight in the front goes far. 

I learned about that repairing a friends Lunker Punker.  So for a good glide, a nearly level bait, weighed on back half, and overall weight are all beneficial to a good glide. And I think if you want to do that and minimize forward motion, a shorter bait is better than a longer bait.

Makes sense. Other words, weight far in the tail will result in more drag and more freedom in the head to snap from side to side and get it to walk nice and wide. Also, what I am gathering from this is to simply put enough weight in the tail to get it to sit upright and maybe a little bit more just a bit farther toward the head than the first hole for stability.

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Not sure what you mean by "enough weight .... to sit upright".  I don't want the bait to sit vertical, I want it to sit nearly horizontal in the water.  I add weights say 3 or 4 weights in a row along the back 1/3 of the bait until the bait sits just a little tail down from horizontal  That is not for more drag but to help with the glide of the wide walk.

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1 hour ago, barrybait said:

Not sure what you mean by "enough weight .... to sit upright".  I don't want the bait to sit vertical, I want it to sit nearly horizontal in the water.  I add weights say 3 or 4 weights in a row along the back 1/3 of the bait until the bait sits just a little tail down from horizontal  That is not for more drag but to help with the glide of the wide walk.

Ohhh okay. Makes sense at that point.

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4 minutes ago, Outlaw4 said:

also remember its not just the motion you need to think about. there is a sound associated with the motion. 

swoosh swoosh swoosh ;)

I think that to amplify the spitting swoosh sound, you would give it a cupped face, or a face in the style of the Roman Made gliders (such as the Mother or Negotiator.)

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8 minutes ago, RiverSmallieGuy said:

I think that to amplify the spitting swoosh sound, you would give it a cupped face, or a face in the style of the Roman Made gliders (such as the Mother or Negotiator.)

this is not a spitting sound. the swoosh comes from the side to side displacement of water. 

sometimes referred to as the "death march"....swoosh swoosh swoosh

 

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40 minutes ago, Outlaw4 said:

this is not a spitting sound. the swoosh comes from the side to side displacement of water. 

sometimes referred to as the "death march"....swoosh swoosh swoosh

 

I wasn't talking about the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. I was talking about the water spitting that that style mouth can facilitate. That swoosh, swoosh, swoosh sound brings so many good memories while throwing topwaters haha

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