Sinking topwater lures may sound like an oxymoron since lure makers design these lures to be pulled and popped across the surface. But topwater plugs are actually way more versatile than that. In order to sink topwater lures you need to know how to make a few alterations, you can turn your topwater lures into one of the most effective plugs in your arsenal and use them in a wide range of conditions for an even wider range of fish species.
Over in Japan, the sinking pencil lure is by far the most popular and versatile style of the sinking topwater lure. These lures come in all shapes and sizes, but typically imitate finfish such as the anchovy, sardine, or Pacific saury. The primary difference between these lures and other topwater baits is the pointed “pencil” shape of the head. Most other topwaters feature a cupped face, which is common on most all chuggers and poppers. Chuggers are made to splash and throw water and the concave face helps them make more commotion. Unlike the usual poppers, sinking pencil lures don’t sit on the surface, they sink.
Add a few more tricks to your fishing arsenal with some sinking pencil poppers.
Fishing with a sinking pencil bait has two distinct advantages over using standard topwater lures. First, they are heavier for the same body size, which means you can cast them a greater distance. Secondly, you can fish a sinking pencil bait subsurface, which is a great tactic when the fish are not willing to commit to aggressive topwater strikes.
Many times, a manufacturer will offer the same lure in both floating and sinking models. Attached are pictures of the floating Daiwa TD Pencil SW, in a sardine color and the hot-pink, sinking model to the right. For the same size body, the sinking model weighs almost 50 percent more than the floating model. Many anglers fish these sinking pencil baits with a fast retrieve, skipping the bait on the surface, removing the front treble hook helps this particular bait skip even better.
Solid-resin sinking pencil lures cast the farthest of any topwater lure, and the ones made for larger offshore species use a heavy internal stainless steel harness.
These pencil baits sink rapidly, and can be “walked” or “jigged” subsurface, as well as skipped on the surface of the water. You can vary the presentation depending on what you’re targeting and the conditions.
Short, heavy sinking pencil baits can be customized by adding feathered hooks, or simply slipping a squid skirt over the entire pencil bait. These full-body squid skirts are easily changed to give you a wider color selection to match what the fish are feeding on. You can also modify floating pencil baits by drilling a hole in them and filling the lure with water. Most pencil baits have internal weights, so by filling up with water, you can both add casting weight, and make them sink or they become neutrally buoyant. Simply fill up the hole with fast dry epoxy to seal the bait up.
Although they can be fished in many different ways, simply “burning” these sinking pencil baits on the surface with a fast retrieve is both simple and productive to draw surface strikes. Also, since they do not have to be “worked” or “popped” like poppers, sinking pencils can be easily fish with conventional reels, much like a skip jig. Give it a shot next time your topwater lets you down.
About the Author: Greg “Capt. G” Vella is an American angler, rodbuilder and tackle aficionado living in Osaka, Japan. He’s an avid contributor to the Bloodydecks.com fishing forum and has created a loyal following online. He also runs a tackle shop over in Japan.