my trolling motor,” he said. “If I miss a fish on topwater and they don’t come back and get it, I’ll reel it in to make a cast with the swimbait. I don’t do the standard slow swimbait retrieve and make it look really erratic and will catch a lot of those fish.”
For topwater, Pringle prefers a 7’6” to 7’9”, medium- heavy Abu Garcia or Fenwick rod paired with an Abu Garcia Revo Beast reel. He varies his line selection based on the bait and cover he is around.
“I like 15-pound test Berkley Big Game for the Skimmer Grande all the time and Little Stik, if I am fishing in more open water,” he said. “If there is a lot of grass or trees around, I go up to 65-pound test Spiderwire braid for the Little Stik because it’s the same diameter as the 15-pound mono and gets the best action from the bait. That’s also the same braid I’ll use for the Big Stik.”
He prefers the size and actions of the rods mentioned for best performance from the baits and opts for the beefier reel to handle the abuse of big stripers.
“The Little and Big Stik are very easy to work, if you have the right rod,” he said. “You want a rod with a soft tip to work it and cast far, but it has to have some backbone to get the fish in. I like the Revo Beast because it is more powerful and also has a large line capacity to hold enough braid.”
Pringle is known as “The Fishing Instructor,” and teaching about fishing is one of his passions. Through his years of experience as an angler and guide, he’s learned that topwater fishing requires some adjustments in retrieves. The biggest advice he can give is to not get into a rhythm with the same retrieve.
“You don’t want to just ‘walk the dog’ with the same cadence; you want to stagger it a bit to make it look more erratic,” he said. “Another thing that works great for stripers is to rush
the bait a few feet or so right, after it hits the water. I’ll make a couple of quick jerks right as it lands and then slow it down. It looks like a fish is chasing after the bait and busting on it and will get the attention of other stripers in the area.”
As with anything, Pringle also advises paying close attention to how the fish act and where the strikes are coming from.
“You want to remember where each one bit,” he said. “Was it when you were working it fast or slow? You want to see how they want it that day.”
The striped bass has a loyal following among anglers for their hard fighting ways and willingness to hit lures with a vengeance. One of the most fun you can have is getting on big stripers with topwater and with the right approach, you can do it well into winter. •