Client Catches – Top Water Tactics (Part 2)

Client Catches – Top Water Tactics (Part 2)

Sorry it’s taken so long to write this!!! In Part 1 (here) I described a couple of occasions in which my clients have caught bass in very bright, sunny conditions, but when the water was both calm and clear, and when it was murkier and rougher. Furthermore, the catches achieved during these sessions were as a result of working the surface or top water lure either continuously and by waiting for the fish to come to us, or by casting a slightly larger surface lure into very specific areas where the bass were assumed to be holding up.

In Part 2, I will describe two further occasions when the way the surface lure was ‘worked’ (retrieved) by my clients and the overall methods I asked them to utilise resulted in bringing a smile to their faces.

dusk in devon June 19

Something that is probably obvious from the photographs in this post, is that the bass depicted were caught on two separate estuary marks (as in two different river systems) when the water was relatively clear, but very calm. Moreover, the sky was overcast on both occasions and flow or current fierce, especially in comparison to the open coast venues from Part 1.


Channels… In all estuaries you will find channels – some are tiny creases in the seabed that the water trickles into, and some are dozens of metres wide where the tide/current literally rips, boils and powers through. The good news for the bass lure angler is that the fish (not just bass) will use these underwater ‘roads’ in which to travel into and out of the creeks or estuaries in general. All the angler needs to do is position him or herself in a way that you can intercept their movement – which is precisely what I asked my client (John) to do here.

Patchinko 100
The ‘small Patch’ as it’s known, the Patchinko 100 accounts for a lot of very large bass.

With the water flowing at a fair rate of knots, a tactic that I regularly employ in this situation is to cast a small (80-100mm) surface lure such as a Xorus Patchinko 100 here or Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire here up-tide, and then work it quickly, and in short bursts, before allowing it to simply drift for a few seconds, before working it quickly again, and so on.

Essentially, the lures is always travelling in the same direction as the current – which although not absolutely essential when using a lure of this style and size, to me, represents a prey item being overpowered by the flow, and therefore, extremely vulnerable to attack.

Bass caught on a Patchinko 100
A modest bass yes, but it’s still a PB!

On a damp and dreary day John’s spirits were lifted by virtue of four bass landed (equalling his total for the entire season so far!) including a personal best at around 2½lb. Admittedly, this isn’t a large bass to many, but it was the watercraft element to it all and correct use of this lure type that was the real benefit to John – as I am sure he will go on to catch lots more, and larger bass too, in the near future. His client testimony can be found here.


The second short story involving the use of a top water lure concentrates around knowing ‘where’ the bass are likely to be stationed within these brackish environments at certain stages of the tide, whereby you can turn up with a certain level of expectancy… It goes without saying that only time and effort spent fishing particular areas yourself, being shown first hand, or through stumbling across them by sheer luck will you encounter bass positioning around particular submerged features – something that is pertinent wherever you cast a lure for bass.

Tackle House Vulture Resistance
A rather underrated surface lure, the Tackle House Vulture has a number of very useful attributes – namely it cast well, is easy to work effectively and as you can see it catches bass!

After what had been a quiet session so far with only two very small bass caught, the ace in the pack (as far as I was concerned) was a mark in which a triangular-shaped dome in the seabed basically deflects the tide/current. On smaller (neap) tides, I knew from experience and long hours of ‘sussing out’ this venue that the bass would position themselves on the outer edge of this feature at a certain stage in the tide.

Essentially, they would be continually targeting the same area until the fish turned up, and distance would be required here too. This is why I ‘approved’ my client’s request to attach his favourite lure – the very long-casting, 20g, medium-sized (120mm) Tackle House Vulture here.

Lure caught estuary bass
Understanding ‘where and when’ bass may be situated on around specific undulations on the seabed is possible.

Things turned out rather well on this venue as my clients landed seven bass in the final hour and a half of their guided session with me. Again, the biggest landed was just shy of 3lb, but it proved the importance of accurate casting, knowing and being able to appreciate the topography of the ground (seabed) and understanding which lure to utilise to gain that all important reaction from the fish.

Sea Angler Article

I hope this mini series helps you to decide when it may be appropriate to use a surface lures this autumn. Additionally, and if you’d like to know more about when to use them, particularly ore turbulent sea conditions, then my article in this month’s Sea Angler Magazine (Issue 576) here may be useful to you.

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling








  1. Hi Marc,
    Nice to see estuaries being utilised as most of us consider the coast line as the ‘go to’ for Bass and maybe missing a trick or two. 2 1/2 3lb fish are not huge by any stretch but it’s a fish worth catching and if the bigger girls were around then maybe a different scenario..who knows it’s fishing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s