Categories: Saltwater

Topwater Plug Versus Sub-Surface Crankbait-In Saltwater

Serious anglers want to utilize every book in the trick, depending on what will be most effective at any given time. In many cases, that will mean choosing between a topwater plug, and a crankbait. How will you know which is the better choice? Focus in on these factors.

Topwater plugs and sub-surface lipped crankbaits are both effective – but not necessarily at the same time, in the same place.

TOPWATER plugs rule the roost when fish are feeding in the shallows. In water depths of five feet or less it’s rare you want your offering below surface level, because most of the fish will be cruising along the bottom looking (and feeding) up. Of course, there are exceptions (the most blatant being black drum, which almost always feed right on bottom) but as a general rule of thumb, in shallow water topwater is a winner.

SUB-SURFACE is often the way to go on bright, sunny days. Fish can’t wear sunglasses, and many species are aggravated by bright, incessant sunlight. In these situations, they’re likely to be too deep for topwater to be effective.

TOPWATER is a great option at dusk and dawn. During these periods of rapidly-changing light levels, many species of predators take advantage of the evolving conditions to attack baitfish right on the surface.

SUB-SURFACE works better when fish are scattered, because they can not only be cast but also trolled. When you need to cover a lot of ground to locate fish, and slowly putting from spot to spot is necessary, this means you can fish as you relocate.

TOPWATER wins when you’re more interested in an adrenaline rush than in taking home dinner. Let’s be real – is anything more exciting to an angler than a topwater explosion?!

SUB-SURFACE is the best pick when fish are holding at or near a thermocline. You’ll need to pick the lure that runs at the appropriate depth, of course. Do so, however, and you can present your offering in a way that topwater simply can’t match.

TOPWATER rocks on overcast or rainy days. Fish often seem to love busting the surface, in these low-light conditions.

SUB-SURFACE is the way to go, when the barometric pressure is rising. This condition often seems to cause fish to stay deep, and seem reluctant to come up to the surface regardless of light levels.

Lenny Rudow: