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Topwater tricks by Zell
BASS Insider staff

Zell Rowland's name will probably always be associated with the Rebel Pop-R. But the truth is that this talented Texas pro is skilled with all types of topwater plugs.

"I love all types of topwaters," said the five-time BASS winner. "I think topwaters are a lot more productive than most people think."

Over the years, Rowland has developed a plethora of tricks designed to make every surface lure just a little better. He explains:

Prop baits. "I throw prop baits like the Devil's Horse and Crazy Shad a lot," Rowland said. "I like fishing those in the spring when the fish are up shallow. It's another target bait for me. I'll bend the props to slow the speed of the bait down. In other words, in the springtime, when you know the fish are bedding, bend the blades forward - that way you're able to jerk the bait six or eight times and keep it in a 2-foot circle." Rowland's other tip for props: "As the weather warms up, the fish get a little more aggressive and want a lure that moves a little faster. So bend the blades toward the back of the bait."

Buzzbaits. The first modification Rowland makes with a buzzbait is to bend the blade edges inward. This enables the lure to be worked surprisingly slow on the surface, which is one of Rowland's favorite retrieves. "Most bass fishermen know the importance of clacker-style buzzbaits that make a lot of noise," he said. "Most people buy buzzbaits with a built-in clicker. But I get better results when I make my own clacker by adding a little Colorado blade. It's not hard to do. Just open up the wire and take the blade off. Slide the Colorado blade on and then replace the original blade. That little blade will set just below the middle of the blade. As it rotates, the buzzbait blade hits that Colorado blade and makes a lot more noise than any clacker-style buzzbait on the market." Rowland looks for two important elements with any buzzbait: a strong hook and a flat head. He prefers a flat head over a rounded version because he believes the flat head reaches the surface faster and comes through cover more easily.

Poppers and chuggers. The feathers that come with these surface lures from the factory aren't good enough for this Texas topwater maestro. He replaces them with hackle features like those used by fly tiers. Not only do bass seem to find them more attractive, Rowland claims that the hackle material has action even when the lure is motionless. Plus, that subtle feather movement while paused enables him to get more second strikes out of bass that miss the bait initially. He also adds the feathers to jerkbaits.

Jerkbaits. Speaking of jerkbaits, Rowland sometimes removes the bill of a Smithwick Rogue to transform it into a unique topwater bait. "It's really easy to do. Just use pliers to wiggle [the lip] back and forth until it breaks off. With no bill, it has a real wild action. It really looks like a wounded shad or minnow trying to escape" Rowland also adds a prop to the back of the Rogue to slow it down during the retrieve. :wink:
 

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I never saw that fish at the WWD! I think its a Photoshop job. :lol: Just kidding. I can vouch for the fact that Mike did catch that fish at the WWD.
 
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