The visual aspect of fishing with surface baits is probably as exciting as lure fishing gets. It’s a method of spectacular chases and attacks, often ending in eruptions of foam and spray. In the waters in my local area, surface fishing for pike is particularly successful in the spring and autumn months and each year I look forward to those times.
There are many other species in both fresh and salt water that will attack surface baits too. You need to try surface lures on your own waters to find the best seasonal times to use them. As with any style of lure fishing, you first of all need to locate fish that are prepared to make a surface attack. This naturally means covering the water until you find willing predators.
The boat angler has a huge advantage, and can not only cover the water more quickly, but also cover water that is out of reach of the bank caster. Even so, finding areas with active predators can still be tedious, especially on bigger expanses of water. For me, the answer is simple – I troll my surface lures! In this way, large areas of water can be covered quickly and efficiently. I prefer to troll using an electric motor, although on bigger waters I have not found using a petrol motor to be a handicap. I must admit that I have a mental issue about trolling the lure in the propeller wake, and for this reason, tend to troll further back when using a petrol engine. I’ll also ‘snake troll’, zig zagging rather than running in a straight line, so that the lure runs back and forth over the prop wash rather than in it.
Ideally, I use one rod and hold it rather than putting it in a rod holder. The main reason for doing so is that I can work the lure to it’s best advantage. Lures like the X-Rap Propchug along nicely without any angler input, but others like the X-Rap Pop and Skitter Popbenefit from sharp jerks of the rod to raise a plume of water and make an attractive sound. The X-Rap SubWalk can be worked just as one would from the bank using up strokes of the rod to make it ‘Walk the Dog’ and glide enticingly from side to side. I tend to vary the boat speed, often coming to a complete halt if fish are seen chasing. If I find a good area, then I’ll anchor up and exploit it before moving on again.
Here’s a point about surface lure fishing that many seem to overlook. ANY lure that floats can be used as a surface lure! Instead of cranking it down to it’s working depth, just work it along the surface up to the point when it wants to naturally dive due to it’s diving lip, then slow the retrieve to keep it at the surface. Rapala's surface lures are very enticing to predators but some of the diving lures are remarkable surface catchers too. One of my favourites is the Super Shad Rap, but I have caught well from the surface using lures like the Floating Magnum, Jointed, Shallow Shad Rap and Original Floater to name but a few. Their obvious benefit is that they can also be cranked down to see whether there are predators that are unwilling to attack at the surface but will do so further down the water column. There is much to experiment with, making the fishing very interesting.
Rapala have dedicated surface lures and other lures that can be worked on the surface when required. The choice is vast and you have the great pleasure of trying them out on your chosen water to find which work best.