Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

This post will list the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing. Most anglers enjoy catching fish on top water plugs. Being able to visually see the strike is very exciting! Top water plugs float on the surface. They are designed to imitate a wounded bait fish that is struggling on top of the water. For the most part, they are most effective in fairly shallow water.

best 6 topwater plugs for saltwater fishing

There are several varieties of saltwater top water plugs. These include poppers, propeller baits, and “walk the dog” baits. While they are similar in that they float on the surface and put out some type of commotion, there are differences as well. All three are designed to imitate struggling bait fish on the surface of the water.

Sacramento River striped bass

The best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing are the Rapala Saltwater Skitter Prop, MirrOlure 5M, Heddon Saltwater Super Spook, Rapala Skitter Walk, Atom Popper, and Storm Rattlin” Chug Bug. These 6 saltwater topwater plugs will cover every angling situation.

  • Rapala Skitter Prop
  • Heddon Salatwater Super Spook
  • Atom popper
  • Storm Chug Bug
  • Rapala Saltwater Skitter walk
  • MirrOlure 5M

Topwater Poppers

fishing for bluefish

Poppers are top water plugs that have a concave face. The I let for the line tie is in the center of the bait in most cases. When twitched sharply, the face digs into the water emitting a popping sound as well as producing some splash. These type of lures can call fish up from a long distance and a fairly significant depth. They are very popular on a wide variety of species and many saltwater fishing applications.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is a very popular top water lure that is in the Popper family. It is fairly long and slender, making it aerodynamic which increases casting distance. It comes in several different sizes from 7/8 of an ounce to 3 ounces. It is a durable plug and is a very popular choice among striped bass anglers in the Northeast. It is a versatile bait that is used by anglers fishing from the surf, jetties, peers, and boats.

Chug Bug


The Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug is another popular saltwater popper. It is used more often by anglers fishing the inshore waters. It is a bit smaller at 3 1/4″, which is better suited for inshore fishing. The rattle helps call game fish in to the bait. This lure will take a variety of species including striped bass, bluefish, spotted sea trout, redfish, and more. It is available and many different color patterns and several different sizes.

Propeller Topwater Baits

fishing for snook

Propeller baits or prop baits are another type of surface plug that has been around for a very long time. Some baits have propellers at both ends while many only have one at the rear of the lure. When twitched sharply, the propeller digs into the water and puts out a loud and distinctive churning sound. These baits can put out a lot of noise and commotion without moving very far.

Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is a popular saltwater top water bait that falls into the propeller family. It has one propeller on the rear of the bait with a conical shaped nose. This bait puts out a lot of commotion while moving a very short distance. This lore is a good choice for anglers fishing inshore waters, especially on calm days. The bait will call fish up from quite a distance away.

MirrOlure 5M

The MirrOlure 5M is a more aggressive propeller style bait. It has a propeller on both the front and rear of the lure. It puts out quite a commotion and is an excellent choice when there is a bit of chop on the water or when fish are especially aggressive. It is a durable bait that comes with saltwater hardware. The 5M comes in a couple different sizes and many color variations.

Topwater Fishing with Walk the Dog Baits

The last type of top water plug for saltwater fishing is the walk the dog bait. Unlike the previous two lures, these have very little built in action. Instead, the angler must work the bait in a way that elicits a strike. These baits are long and slender and tapered at the front and rear. When worked properly, the lore zigzags back and forth as it moves across the water. This type of lure is better for anglers who need to cover a fair amount of distance.

Heddon Super Spook

The Zara Spook is one of the most famous and recognizable top water fishing plugs. It is one of the original top water lures that is in the walk the dog family of baits. Their saltwater version in the Super Spook. It is a long and slender lore that is tapered at both ends. It comes with very sturdy saltwater hooks and hardware. The bait is available in several different sizes and multiple finishes.

Rapala Skitter Walk

The Rapala Saltwater Skitter Walk is very similar to the Super Spook. It is a bit smaller in size and profile, making it a better choice on very calm days. It is available and a couple different sizes and several color patterns. Like all lures in the walk the dog family, the action on this bait must be imparted by the angler.

Best Tackle for Fishing Topwater Plugs

In most saltwater fishing applications, spinning tackle is the best choice. However, while spinning tackle can certainly be used, and most situations conventional, or bait casting tackle is best. There are a couple of reasons for this. Due to the manner in which these top water plugs are worked, anglers will invariably get slack in the line. Bait casting outfits are better suited to handle this while spinning outfits will often create loops.

best redfish lures

Furthermore, most of these top water plugs are fairly heavy. While spinning outfits have the advantage when casting light lures, bait casting rigs are often better when throwing heavier baits. Bait casting rods offer anglers the ability to cast towards shoreline cover then stop the bait exactly where needed using the angler’s thumb. This results in a fairly subtle presentation given the weight of the lure.

Best Baitcasting outfit


While there is no one best conventional or bait casting outfit, a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot medium heavy rod with a matching reel is an excellent all round combination. While anglers targeting larger species such as trophy striped bass will need to bump it up a bit, this rig will cover the vast majority of angling situations involving top water plugs.

Top Spinning Rig

Anglers can certainly use spinning outfits when casting top water plugs as well. Just as with bait casting outfits, there is no one combination that will cover every situation. However, a 7 foot medium heavy spinning rod with a 3002 4000 series real will get the job done in most situations.

Fishing Line Choices

Anglers have a couple different choices when it comes to fishing line. Braided line is very thin in diameter and will allow anglers some extra casting distance. However, many anglers actually prefer the stretch of monofilament line when using top water plugs. The stretch and the line can result in more fish being hooked and landed. Florocarbon lines are a bit of a combination, but are quite expensive. It really just is a matter of personal choice. 20 pound braided line and 12 to 15 pound monofilament line are good all-around choices.


Topwater Lure Fishing Techniques for Saltwater Anglers

Anglers saltwater fishing with surface plugs can find success in a variety of situations. While for the most part these types of baits are most effective in fairly shallow water, they can be used in deeper water as well. This is especially true when the water is clear. Top water baits will catch fish on shallow flats over bars and grass. They are also effective when cast towards shoreline cover such as docks, seawalls, riprap, fallen timber, oyster bars, and more.

fishing for striped bass

The best approach is to cast the lure out and allow it to settle for a few moments. Once the rings have dissipated, the retrieve can begin. Anglers using poppers and propeller baits will do best to twitch the lure sharply, then allow it to set a few moments again. This is repeated several times then the lure is reeled back in and cast out to another spot. These lures work best around structure as a can be worked multiple times without the lure being moved very far.

Walk the dog baits are a better choice for anglers looking to cover a larger area of water such as an expansive flats. Once again, the lure is cast out and allowed to settle. Then, with the rod tip held low towards the surface, the angler begins reeling it in while twitching the rod tip in a rhythmic pattern. When done properly, the lore will dance side-to-side as it comes back in towards the angler.

Proper technique for setting the hook

It is very important when fishing with top water plugs in saltwater to not set the hook when visually seeing the strike. This can be difficult as the take is often quite explosive. However, anglers who do so will most often miss the fish while sending the lure with multiple treble hooks back towards the angler.

Instead, the technique that works best when setting the hook with a top water plug is to wait until the fish is actually felt on the end of the line. This may seem like a long time, but it is not only more effective, it is much safer as well. Also, instead of an aggressive hook set, the best approach is usually a sideways sweep of the rod while reeling tight to get all the slack out of the line.

In conclusion, this article on the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing will help anglers catch more fish using this exciting and productive technique!

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