When it comes to bass bait, there are more options than you can count. When fishing topwater, one of the most classic and effective types of bait is buzzbait. Buzzbait is a classic for a reason—it will help you catch lots of bass fast.
When deciding what type of bait to use while bass fishing, the first decision is what style of fishing will you be doing? When should you topwater fish, versus mid or bottom? If you don’t know how to decide, you will be sending bait where there aren’t any fish.
Buzzbait is specifically for topwater—so when should you be topwater fishing? Bass tend to go deep when the water is cold. In a northern winter, you are unlikely to get bass up to the top of the water.
In the summertime, it is easier to find the bass, because they aren't diving so deep. This means that in many bodies of water, you can see them sitting just below the surface, hiding in the tall grass. They usually aren’t as sluggish as they might be in the coldest part of the year, but they also aren’t as aggressive.
The downside to those summertime bass? While they are more energetic hunters when the water is warm, you may have to get them a little more excited when the water is full of prey fish.
This is where buzzbait can be helpful.
What is Buzzbait?
Buzzbait is a relatively simple wire framed lure. It is almost identical to spinnerbait except buzz bait has a propeller that pulls it to the top of the water and is responsible for the bait’s trademark buzz.
It has a lot of action and makes a lot of noise in the water. Buzzbait is a topwater bait that wants to sink, but you can attach a trailer to add buoyancy if you want to slow down your reeling.
Buzzbait are typically a sinking topwater lure, with a propeller-type fin attached. This fin does two things. When you are pulling the bait through the water, it makes splashing or other noises to attract the fish. It also pulls the lure up out of the water while it is being reeled.
It’s not a lure type that can just be cast and casually reeled in. Ideally, you would cast buzzbait over the top of a grassy area in the water. Reeling it in fairly quickly will cause the bait to skim along the topwater, drawing those bass out of hiding to strike. Varying the speed of the reel will give it the impression of a fish swimming and stopping. The fin will squeal as it spins, and the hook will sit just below the surface as it skims, perfectly positioned to hook deep in that bass’s mouth.
Most Buzzbait will have shiny metallic panels for the fins (a traditional boy scout project is to make buzzbait out of Coke cans) which attracts the bass by resembling the flash of scales in the sunlight. The combination of the shiny fin with the noise of a small fish or large insect in distress can drive bass into a frenzy.
One of the really attractive things about buzz bait for a fisherman is that, in the right circumstances, you can catch a fish on every cast. By combining the lure of shiny things with noise and movement, buzzbait can be irresistible.
Types of Buzzbait
Inline buzzbait are the least complex and the most durable type. One of the downsides to the mobility in a buzzbait is that the fins bend easily, and can make the bait hard to control on the water. Inline buzzbait overcome this flaw by putting the blade and the lead head in line with each other (hence the name).
With inline buzzbait, you do trade some of the movement and sound that can cause other buzzbait varieties to be such a draw. Inlines are a great lure to start the day with since they are simple to operate and less likely to give you issues. It’s easy to change to a more persnickety lure if the fish aren’t biting.
Single Prop Non Clacker
This is a simple bait design. It has a single moving propeller to lift it in the water. It’s a relatively quiet style of buzzbait since the only noise comes from the friction of the propeller spinning. These baits work best in quiet water, where less noise can be more. If you just need to get the fish out of the murk in a quiet pond, this is often the bait of choice.
Single Prop Clacker
The name says it. Take a single prop buzzbait, add a small metal bar to the top of the prop to make it clack when the prop spins. This action draws fish toward it, even if there is some noise from boats or current in the water. Clackers are extremely helpful on crowded bodies of water.
Double Prop Clackers
This type of buzz bait adds a second propeller, doubling lift. And allowing them to travel much slower without losing buoyancy. If you are topwater fishing on a warm spring day, but the bass are still a little cold water sluggish, this may be the right bait.
Whereas clackers are designed to overcome distractions and dirty water with low visibility, squeakers are helpful in situations where the water is clear, but there is a lot of commotion.
Squeakers don’t have the physical bar to clack, and instead, make a high pitched squeal by friction between the prop and the wire body. This draws fish toward them, without being overly distracting and keeping the fish away from the hook.
Best Times to Use Buzzbait
As with any other fishing tip, every expert has different opinions on how and when to use specific bait. Buzzbait is a topwater bait, so it works best when the surface of the water is sitting near 70 degrees. Depending on where you live, that can mean a lot of different times of the year.
In the deep south, the top of the water can be 68 degrees on a sunny day in December. That means you can fish buzzbait from late morning until close to sunset. As the water temp rises, those bass will come to the top looking for smaller prey animals that have warmed up from the sun. Put a trailer lure on a double prop buzzbait, and a slow reel can draw them right up to you.
In the summer, the topwater can actually get too warm at midday, even up into the midwest. This makes buzzbait a great sunrise and sunset bait in the summertime. If you start the day with squeakers to wake the fish up and get them striking, you will be able to tell when they start to creep towards the midwater as the water warms.
Even when the topwater gets a little too hot for the bass in the summer, you may still be able to get them to come up and strike if you make it appealing enough with the squeakers.
Make sure to vary the speed you reel so the sound and flashes change up, and attach a light-colored trailer to draw them in. Floating trailers also provide enough buoyancy that you can stop and start reeling without losing them
Gear For Topwater
You don’t need any super-specialized gear for topwater fishing. A standard seven-foot rod will probably be ideal unless you need a shorter rod for working around cover and docks.
Stick with a baitcaster reel. You want to be able to cast for distance since the movement is what is drawing the fish in. A gear ratio of 8:1 should let you reel at the speed you need to keep good movement on the lure, and to bring it back in for more casting without killing your arm.
Don’t use monofilament line. The stretch of the line will make it really hard for you to control how fast you are reeling, and that speed control is what makes the fish go after the bait. Fish in the wild don’t typically swim at a constant speed, and when bait does, the fish instinctively know it isn’t right.
A good braided line in 40-50 pound test will give you the resiliency you need, and allow for good long casts that you can reel at a controlled pace.
If you are looking for a good versatile year-round topwater bait that consistently brings in strike after strike, buzzbait is definitely a tool you need to have in your arsenal. It works in cloudy or clear water, with or without a current. You can attach any variety of trailer to the back, making it a different lure every time.
Whether you need quality buzzbait or want to try a different approach, it’s important to know where to find quality supplies, and we can make it easy with our monthly bait subscription box based exactly on where you live and what you’re chasing!