The Surface is an Edge
It’s the reason topwater lures can be so effective for muskie, pike and other species like bass and even walleyes. Predators have success, and remember it, because they often are able to catch prey fish right at the surface. The upward-fleeing prey has run out of real estate. With this in mind, certainly, consider topwater presentations as something to test – to see if fish are in the mood, and not just shallow structures only – deeper and open water too; suspended fish usually feed “up”. But also consider too – that with any shallow-running lures – the surface can be a huge triggering factor to use once followers are noted. Some baits, like many cranks, don’t have the capability, but spinners do and so do most glider jerk baits. For shallow-running buoyant cranks, try pausing and allowing the bait to break the surface and sit there … twitch (if you get that far). If you see a following muskie or pike, buzz that spinner up to the surface so it’s breaking water. This is also my standard move with any shallower running glider jerkbaits I use, like Sebile’s (floating) Stick Shadd and Bonga Jerk baits. I simply pick up the pace with twitches, get my rod angle higher … and turn them into partial surface lures. This triggers lots of strikes.