March 19th, 2013
Top Water Lure Tips – Poppersby Grant Pentiricci December 13, 2012
Fishing with topwaters provides anglers with some of the most entertaining and explosive strikes available. Whether its bass, pike or musky, topwaters have the potential to produce some great fun. One of my favorite types of topwater baits to throw is the popper. I find that this is a great bait to relax with and I often work it slowly at the end of a long day. Although there are a lot of types of other topwater baits, a popper produces a unique splash that I think fish sometimes just can’t resist.
Characteristics of Topwater Poppers
Poppers are one of the oldest types of topwaters. They are traditionally called plugs and were originally fashioned from wood. This type of bait has a cupped front that creates a bubble when “popped” along the surface. Its this commotion on the surface that is simulating a frog or dying fish on the surface.
There are a ton of bait companies that produce popper type baits and covering them all is just not possible. This article will just cover my recent and long-time favorites.
Popper frogs such as the Spro Bronzeye series are extremely weedless and can be fished in the thickest cover. However other poppers such as the Rebel Pop-R, Arbogast Hula Popper and Jitterbug have exposed treble hooks and you will
need to be selective when you throw them. The exposed treble hooks on the Pop-R type baits will increase your hookup ratio whereas the Bronzeye Popper will have the same failure rate as a hollow body frog.
The Arbogast Jitterbug and Hula Popper are another type of popper topwater that merit mentioning. These two baits have been in production for decades and early versions of this bait are highly collectible. These baits are a staple of topwater fishing and are some of the first topwater baits I have ever owned.
How to Fish Topwater Poppers
Poppers are most effective when worked slowly along the surface. Allow the bait to sit 10-20 seconds and give it a small pop with your wrist. Let the bait sit and wait for fish to strike. If there’s no strike give it another quick pull. Try doing variations with frequency as well as with the force of your popping. The erratic action followed by stillness will imitate a tired frog or struggling fish. Use your wrist to pop the bait forward and pull down so the cupped nose of the lure catches water.
To set the hook you would use the same method as with hollow body frogs. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish (1-2 sec) and set the hook in an upward motion. Set it firmly and maintain pressure. Don’t let the fish turn away, especially if it’s a large mouth bass. They tend to bulldog down into the weeds. Keep as much pressure as possible while you bring your fish to the boat. I recommend that you have a net handy as I’ve lost a lot of fish right at the boat. I find that using a net is great insurance, besides, it’s easier on my back and knees.
Where to Fish Top Water Poppers
Poppers with exposed treble hooks will snag a lot if fished in vegetation that is on the surface. You also have to be careful if casting near banks and docks as the treble hooks will snag badly. These baits cannot be worked off the bank and casing accuracy is important. I like to fish these baits in areas where there are weeds that don’t quite reach the surface. I tend to throw these baits where I can see weeds about 1-2 feet down. When worked slowly bass will come up from the weeds and smash the bait. I love the Megabass Pop Max for this application. The Hula popper, Jitterbug, Pop-R or Chug Bug are all great options that are economical.
I like to throw weedless poppers like the Bronzeye Popper frog in really thick slop and Lilly pads. This popper can be thrown up onto the bank and worked off it into the water. I like to work it over the matted vegetation much like a hollow bodied frog also and not use the popping until I reach an opening in the weeds. I let it sit at the edge of the weedbed. If that doesn’t get a strike it is only then that I pop it a few times into the open water. After a few pops I then let it sit 10-20 seconds and work it to the next matted patch. Then I repeat the process. I find that this is a great combination that makes the popper frogs very adaptable to different weeds and situations on the water. the Spro Bronzeye Popper is my favorite for this.
The Spro Bronzeye Popper 60 is 1/2 Ounce bait and measures 60mm. Spro offers a variety of colors and you can view them here. I just love this bait because its smaller and it has great weedless characteristics combined with the ability to work as a frog or popper.
Spro Bronzeye baby Pop is 1/4 Ounce bait and measures 2 inches in length. It was added by Spro to their lineup for 2009 and you can see Dean Rojas explain some of the features of this bait here on youtube. The baby pop is great for Southern Ontario because it matches the smaller size of frogs in this part of North America very nicely.
My setup for throwing a popper is the same for frogs. I definitely recommend a fast reel, in fact use the fastest one you can find!. I use a Daiwa Zillion Costal 7.3:1 Hyperspeed reel. This reel has some blistering speed and can really take up line once I’ve got a fish on. I love the durability and the smoothness of the cast. For my rod I like to use a 7-ft St Croix Legend Tournament. I use the older Slop n frog and I love it. Lately I’ve noticed the trend is to go a little longer, but its the length that I’m most comfortable with. I think length is a matter of preference, however the power must be a “heavy” with good backbone whatever the rod you choose. The action must be a “fast” as well to get solid hooksets.
As for line, use braid. Use a good quality braid that is at least 40 lb test. I know in the south some guys throw 65 lb but I like 50 lb for the cover I fish.
I don’t always throw a popper, but when I do it’s always with the anticipation of a 5 year old. These baits are a ton of fun and I highly recommend that anglers give them a try!
Feel free to post a comment with your suggestions or questions…
About AuthorMore info about author
Grant is the Founder of AnglingAuthority.com. While he primarily fishes for large mouth and small mouth bass, he’s passionate about sport fishing in general and an avid multispecies angler. Learning about new tactics, gear, species and conditions is all part of what makes the sport challenging and enjoyable. Grant also loves to travel, particularly to prime fishing destinations. Grant participates in regional tournaments and is a proud pro staff member of State Apparel, Power-Pole and Gambler Lures. Grant is a member of B.A.S.S, Canadian Bass Anglers Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters.More by Grant Pentiricci