Using topwater lures to catch fish is a favorite technique of many fishermen. The lure wobbles across the surface, imitating a thrashing, wounded baitfish, and the strikes come in knee-weakening violence.

But knowing which baits to choose under different circumstances is a key to success.

“Not everyone can work all topwater lures, and that’s one of the reasons why there are so many sizes and options,” said Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry, N.C. “Some lures sit deeper in the water or have a split ring on the nose that requires more effort to get the lure to move, and some lures sit higher on the water and need to be finessed rather than jerked. There are other differences in size and body profile. Many folks think that topwater lures are made in different sizes, with different rattles, to attract different fish, but they also work better in different water conditions.”

So what does this guide use?

“I use a lot of Top Dogs, Top Dog Jrs., She Dogs and She Pups,” Jernigan said. “I also use some Zara Spooks and have a Badonk-A-Donk or two in my tackle bag for situations that require them.

“By knowing how each lure works, you can use them to your best advantage, and with modifications as simple as changing the hooks, you can change the way a lure works. Differences between lures – even in the same brand and series – can be size, weight, rattles and materials.

Jernigan said size is an obvious difference, and that the lure should match the baitfish in the area and the fish being targeted.

After size, the most-noticeable differences are the rattles. Baits with higher-frequency rattles attract fish better in windy condition with chop; baits with lower-frequency rattles generally perform better in calm conditions.

Bomber labels Badonk-A-Donks as either high- or low-frequency; MirrOlure offers Top Dogs and Top Dog Jrs. as their lower-frequency lures, while She Dogs and She Pups give off higher-frequency noise.

And the frequency of the rattles also often dictates another factor that can make a big difference.

Lures with a higher-frequency rattle tend to sit higher on the water, and will walk with less effort and a more-finessed action, Jernigan said.

On the other hand, those with a lower-frequency rattles tend to sit deeper and take more effort and a pronounced pop with the rod tip to make them walk correctly, he said.

Jernigan (910-467-1482) said he occasionally has clients who are used to one version of lure and can’t easily adjust to the difference, so he switches lures or modifies them to work for that day’s fishermen.

The easiest modifications are changing hooks and split rings or adding a split ring to a lure’s line tie.

When he replaces hooks, he switches to No. 2 Eagle Claw L774BK Series versions, which are black platinum in color and have a 4X strength rating. That means they are heavier, causing the lure to sink slightly and tighten up the action while requiring a little more effort to work.

Jernigan said the addition of a split ring to the line tie will loosen up a topwater’s action and make the arc of the walk larger.