Most bass anglers are aware of how effective Texas-rigged soft-plastic lures can be for fishing on the bottom, but a few also know they can be just as effective when used at the surface. Sound like a misprint? It's not.

Mike McSwain of Broad River Smallmouth Guide Service often uses weighted soft- plastics as topwater baits and said most anglers he fishes with are initially surprised by this technique. "Once they see it work, they are hooked," he said.

McSwain casts, and before the lure hits the water, he holds his rod straight up, with the reel about as high as his face. He begins reeling before the lure hits the water and reels fast enough that once the lure hits, it immediately moves across the surface toward him, just as a buzzbait would. He then continues reeling quickly enough to keep the lure on top.

McSwain said anglers can cast weighted soft plastics as far as they want, thanks to the weight, but he said these lures offer other advantages, too.

"If you're fishing in current, the weight keeps the lure from getting washed downriver so easily, and it allows you to fish it across the surface without the current bouncing it all around," he said.

Even though using weighted soft-plastics this way is foreign to most anglers, they are quick to master it with a few practice casts. It is especially effective on windy days, when a lighter topwater plug or buzzbait can make it tough on anglers to get satisfactory casting distance. It's also great on topwater when weeds or timber are present, because unlike most topwater lures, these can be rigged weedless.

One other huge advantage these weighted plastic lures have over traditional topwater lures is the angler's ability to modify how they work the lure when the time is right.

"Often with topwater lures, a bass will strike and miss the lure. With traditional topwater lures, the angler can only retrieve the lure and try again, but with weighted soft plastics, the angler can instantly let the lure fall right where the fish missed it. This gives the fish a second chance to hit it while they are in the mood. I have caught more fish this way than I can count," McSwain said.

While plastic worms work fine, McSwain (843-763-3805) usually sticks with a lizard or creature bait such as a Zoom Ultravibe Craw, which has a more substantial profile when swimming across the water's surface.