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jiggin' fool

Topwater troubles

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Strange year for me. The only thing I have been able to get fish to go on is topwater (and that is walking-the-dog as prop baits have been DOA for me) and plastics.

My experience has always been lots of show but no guaranteed hook-up on top-water when walking the dog. This year has been brutal for me. I have had 9 blow-ups in the last 3 weeks and ZERO hook-ups!!! (And yes, these are muskies, 6 of the fish were seen, positive ID, and the other 3 absolute mayhem on the water, so they were muskies too)!

Anyone else experiencing the same? Action on walking-the-dog but never a "tug" on the line and the lure is still setting there after the strike?? I am using Doctors and Salmo Maruaders!!!

I will say none of the fish seen were big.., all in the upper 30-inch class!!

Thoughts? Suggestions?? It is great to see these fish and have the action, but it would be nice too hook up too!!

Maybe I am just having one of those "top-water years"!?!?!?

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As above, Docs and Salmo Maas Maurader! I have Jackpots, but my hooking percentage hasn't been great with those.., (as if these are in better this year.., LOL).

How do I work 'em? How can I say this without sounding "smart".., but I work them in the classic zig-zag! (I can make them dance.., if that's what your looking for??).

This year, because of the misses.., I have tried slowing them down. I usually work them back at a pretty good clip, because it has been my experience that the "chugging" and bouncing on the zigs and the zags is what triggers fish. I have slowed them down to see if that helps, but I can only trigger these fish with a faster retrieve, so she really chugs, pops and bobs!! Having said that, I don't want to leave you with the impression that I am smoking these baits back, you can only walk-the-dog so fast! But it is on the faster side!!

I have done decent on top-waters in the past, but this year is a nighmare for me!!!!!!

Thanks for replying!!!!

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This may sound totally stupid, but i was wondering if you see the fist come for it that you pull it out of their gasp. Around here there is not much clear water and i don't cast exactly for muskies alot. I know when casting for walleyes/northerns that sometimes when my lure gets close to the shore i'll pullout right as the fish comes to bite. Or when you see the fish chase you set the hook too early. I've done that many times myself. I try to look else where or think of something else so i don't get too excited and pull my bait away from the fish.

Good luck on figuring out what is causing your misses. Atleast you got muskies to fish. Only 2 lakes within the hour drive for me to take a chance at. Good luck and have fun

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Learnin',

Thanks for the feedback. Taking the bait away from them isn't the problem. I actually have been walking-the-dog for a long, long time. I absolutely love it. So I do know how to work the lure and I know when to strike (you feel a tug or a "pop" when the fish bites down and turns).., so "missing" them isn't the problem. I am just amazed that I am getting that amount of activity and no "eaters".

I was actually looking to see if anyone else has been having the "blow-up" problem with no takers this year.., and what they have done to solve it.., ie; slower, faster, different baits, etc.

At least I am seeing fish and having action. Everytime one of these fish blows out of the water and goes airborne.., it is almost as good as a "catch".

But I sure would like to hook-up a few times. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

And as to muskie-lakes close to me.., nope! I have a minimum 2+ hour drive to fish.., I make that drive!!!

Thanks again!!!

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It has always been that way for hooking percentage on those for me. It sounds like you have tried pretty much everything you can do to increase your chances to hook them. I've done the same thing with slowing them down, but my thought is there are 3 things that are triggering them. Action, topwater, and speed. So if you could get maybe 2 out of 3 of those right with another lure you could catch them.

We use them more for search baits to see where they are at. Then use other lures to catch them. So once you know where they are at, I would go back and burn/bulge a cowgirl. Then go to speed retrieve a phantom, squirko. And then you could always go to a prop topwater that you change directions frequently with your swings of your rod.

I've had the same experience with Jackpots and I feel it may have to do with how lightly weighted they are. I've seen the lure fly through the air when they go for it. So two things you can try. Weighting your lures so they aren't as easily thrown into the air.

The other thing I've done is put shrink tubing on the rear hook so it sticks straight out the back. All my topwaters have gotten better hooking percentage since I've done that. Some people disagree, but that works for me.

No easy answer.

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Try using heavier WTD lures (Weagle, Viper, etc) or add weight so they ride lower in the water. The ones you're throwing sound like they are too light and the fish are just popping them out of the water.

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don't want to hijack the thread but I'm curious what you guys reccomend to do when a fish is putting up a hefty wake behind a prop bait? speed up? change direction? keep the same pace? I usually bring my bait in with 2 big curves at the end of my retrieve, and speed up every time I make the turns. Still only followers, the only topwater blow up I've had was when I was jokingly trolling a Top Raider over open water as I was slowly moving from spot to spot. Didn't hook up with the fish, she smacked the bait up out of the water a little bit, but she came up to eat it that's for sure-mouth open, gills flared, water everyhwere. oh well.

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On my jackpot I moved the front hook up 3/4"-1" toward the front of the bait and my hooking percentage has gone up significantly. Just my two cents. Good luck!

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Guys,

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I have always wanted to make the drive to Thorne Bros to pick up a couple Weagles and Vipers. I have heard that they were better baits. That is why I am using Docs and Marauders.., they don't ride as high as the Jackpots. But I am going nuts.., and will be picking up some Weagles/Vipers.

Nate.., throw backs have been tossed.., CG burnt, B'Dawgs slow-rolled.., nothing. It's like "smack that topwater" and forget everything else. In fact, I almost always fish with a buddy and they are throwing something other then what I am walking-the-dog.., and they aren't seeing anything or getting these fish to come back either!! It is just a wierd year for me!!!

And guys.., I did get that "shrink-tube" nugget you fed me. I get it, I get it!!! Thanks for the tip!!! A nugget of gold is there to pick up, and I got it!!!

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I tried making my hooks in a T formation this year. Before this year I had zero fish on a WTD lure. Now the weagle is my number one bait and I always make sure that my hooks are sharp. Simple thing to do that can make all the difference. Give it a try.

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Speaking of big WTD, anyone ever hear of or use a homewrecker? Oredered one last week and curious if it was worth it or not.

As far as follows on props, haven't had any this year but last year I did surprisingly well. If I picked the fish up with over half a cast out, I was able to get the fish to eat easily over 50% of the time. I'd start with a gentle increase in speed until it got close enough to go back and forth. Then I'd do a back and forth of the rod both changing direction and speed.

I've heard stopping the bait cold with a fish right on it has worked for others, but the one time I tried it on a hot fish, a nice one too that my dad got to follow a couple casts later, it lost interest right away so I'm not sure if I'll ever try that again unless someone in my boat pulls it off.

The question I'd really like to know is when a fish pushes up a wake behind a WTD, do you speed up the retrieve and try to keep the bait more in a line or slow it down with a wider side to side with pauses? Of the 2 guides I've had in my life, each has told me a different thing and I've seen each work so curious to everyones experiences/opinions

Zelmsdawg

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Top water = Sharp hooks and nerves of steel.

I hardly ever throw top water, it takes to many cast to finally get a fish to commit and then throw the bait. Not for me unless the bite is real hot and then I will usually throw a hog.

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i love throwing top water; but i almost never do. i love watching the fish jump out of the water but i always flinch and pull the hook right outa the fish's mouth and straight twords my face... haha

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There's something else to consider as an explanation and that is some musky behavior that I think many or most of you have probably seen or experienced.

Have you ever considered that the musky is not actually trying to eat your bait?

This year we had a 50+ incher jump clean out of the water, like an Orca, right over the bait. I've seen something else happen alot too. They roll over on the bait and brush it with their sides, but never touch it with their mouths. There's also lots of instances where they hit your bait hard and send it sailing, seemingly with their mouths closed.

Then there's the opposite. I've seen times when muskies are "on" when it comes to topwaters. You catch several in short order. They eat it and they are hooked well. It makes me think that if they really want it, this predator is pretty efficient at getting it.

I just think there's many times (more often than not) when they hit the bait simply because they can't resist. Or perhaps it's territorial, where they seemingly chase it out of the area and seem satisfied with that.

Moody and full of attitude, if there's a fish that is bipolar, I think it would have to be the musky! You never really know what you're going to get.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't beat yourself up because this keeps happening. There may not be anything that you can change that's going to increase your hookups by a huge margin. This thing you're experiencing is all part of using topwaters, and very typical musky behavior. I think when they really want to eat them, you'll know it.

Unfortunately for me, that doesn't seem to be too often, which is why they are definitely not my confidence bait.

One things for sure though, it sure is awesome when they do work!

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Great post Tim.

Top water isnt a confidence lure for me either strickly based on the hooking percentage. I like to stay sub surface the majority of the time, expecially when on trips or trophy water. Like my signiture says "YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE"

But if its "on" nothing is better then a top water blow up or a torpeto sized wake hunting down your plug.

EWWWW, I just got goosebumps. smile

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Moody and full of attitude, if there's a fish that is bipolar, I think it would have to be the musky! You never really know what you're going to get.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't beat yourself up because this keeps happening. There may not be anything that you can change that's going to increase your hookups by a huge margin. This thing you're experiencing is all part of using topwaters, and very typical musky behavior. I think when they really want to eat them, you'll know it.

Unfortunately for me, that doesn't seem to be too often, which is why they are definitely not my confidence bait.

One things for sure though, it sure is awesome when they do work!

If we weren't in a muskie forum I would have sworn you were describing my ex-wife gringrin

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LOL, aint that the truth. IMO if a fish wants to eat it's gonna eat well. if you're getting fish interested in topwater use a prop bait for better hookups. two different actions, i know, but especially as it gets later in the year it's gonna be about propbaits. better hooking, i always liked something that has a prop in front, like a LOWRider or Humper, seems fish eat better than a plain tail prop bait.

speed up if you get a wake. some will eat it, some won't, just like the figure 8.

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