By yourself, you might start off with the popper and, even if you don't hook a fish on that bait, take heart in knowing that you've very likely attracted attention for the walker you'll throw next.
When fishing in pairs, anglers are wise to keep both baits in the water, at least until the fish show you which style they prefer that day.
To this point, I recently joined reigning FLW Angler of the Year David Dudley for a morning of topwater fishing. Dudley threw a chrome spook and assigned me to Pop-R duties with instructions to "raise some fish" for him to catch on the walker.
As it turned out, Dudley was the only one to catch fish that morning, but I'm claiming the assist. Besides, I had to handle all that journalism stuff.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I earned a rather harsh reprimand from Dudley when a big bass caught me distracted with mental calculations of when I'd take a break to photograph the brilliant sunrise. Two sharp pops and a 3-second pause attracted attention and allowed the bass to lock onto my bait.
Soon as I resumed the retrieve, he unloaded on the bait, I missed the opportunity, and my host unloaded on me.
"Dude, that was a solid pull down!" Dudley exclaimed. "You gotta hit him the second he bites."
Another important point is the one about keeping your fish buttoned up. Treble hooks are the boon and the bane of bass fishing, as they obviously triple your lip-grabbing ability but their dangling design gives great advantage to an airborne bass.
You can't do much but maintain a tight line on bass in the water, but keeping you fish below the surface will go a long way to landing that fish. So keep your rod angle low, and don't hesitate to dunk that tip if that's what it takes to avoid and air show.
You put a lot of thought and effort into drawing that topwater strike — you'll want the opportunity to thank your opponent face-to-face.