I’m sure you’ve seen Spooks and poppers in the tackle shop with bodies that are clear. But have you ever bought one? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was no, because they’re not very pretty to the angler’s eye. There are bass fishermen out there, however, that swear by clear topwaters in ultra-clear water. I’ve always been on the fence about it, but just the other day I was fishing with a friend in a clear-water lake and was throwing a dark topwater while he was casting a brightly painted bait. Both lures were getting occasional bites. Then my buddy tied on a clear Spooks and started completely destroying bass, and this was in the middle of the afternoon. He outfished me so badly, that it really got me thinking.
I’ve used clear topwaters from time to time in the past, but never really noticed a difference in their performance or identified a pattern. The same cannot be said of other lures types. For example, I know smoke and translucent-green plastic worms work better in clear water. But after getting beat down by that clear Spook, I called a few ace bass fishing friends of mine just to get their take on idea of clear topwaters killing it in clear water. Perhaps I had been missing a connection all along.
One of the guys I spoke to was Jeff Coble, a well-known NC angler that has done very well in competitions all over the East coast. Jeff is the kind of guy that spends a lot of time on the water, and surrounds himself with great anglers, so he knows the intricate tricks of the trade and also when something is smoke and mirrors. His answer was, “I always use clear topwaters in clear water. I find the bass have no problem zeroing in on the bait, even though some angler might be concerned that they can’t see it.” The other anglers I polled agreed, and said when you get down to it, the bass are targeting the surface commotion more than the actual lure. So theoretically, a clear topwater lets you get away with a bigger bait size in clear water without turning the fish off because they don’t like the look of it. I urge you to give it a shot while the fall topwater bite is on. I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you.