Most anglers agree that there is no better bass lure than the popper lure. Hooking a popper into the mouth of an enraged bass makes for an incredible experience that is both exciting and adrenaline educing! In this post, we show you how to fish poppers in different conditions and environments.
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Topwater Popper – The Ultimate Lure
For generations, using a topwater popper fishing lure has been an excellent way to hook not only lunker bass, but also stripers, bluefish, and more. Various sizes and forms of poppers are available on the market today. They’re commonly constructed of plastic or wood. These lures have a flat or slightly concave front that is intended to produce noise and to fling a lot of water when submerged below the surface.
Knowing how to use a popper the right way is crucial to your fishing success. However, the popper is frequently overlooked in pursuit of the latest, noisier, and flashier top-water baits. But don’t sleep on the popper. It’s been around for ages for a reason. It works!
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How to Fish Poppers
Get it tight into the structure / cover. Walk it like you would a walking frog.
Mastering the right technique is important when you want to know how to fish poppers. One of the great parts about a popper is it’s ability to sit in front of a potential fish for longer than other baits. A very slow retrieval method works great. A few really helpful tips.
- Fish it slow with a twitch – The bait can be reeled very slowly while the tip of your rod flicks up and down. The flick (or twitch) will make the bait’s head bounce up and down and literally “walk” across the water. So go slow, and twitch for the best success!
- “Pop and Stop” – the best retrieval method includes allowing the bait to fully settle down after it has been popped. “Pop and stop” will let you go slow and entice those fish with a really good look at your bait.
- Get a back weighted lure – The best poppers are those that have a heavier tail than the head. That weight ratio makes the lure sit at a 45 degree angle in the water which then produces a really great “pop” when you twitch it.
- Keep it as tight to the structure as possible – With any bass fishing, it’s really important to get right into the cover and get those bass out of their hiding spots. With practice, you can get a popper directly into the cover and lure those big beasts out.
When to Use Poppers
The popper is a powerful weapon when the circumstances are difficult, particularly in the hot summers when the fish are reluctant to pursue a faster-moving bait. The best times to use a popper are :
- During shady times around structures
- Low light conditions
- Early in the morning
- Late in the evening
- A little wind that creates a ripple on the water
- (like the water boy) All night long
- The water should be between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, when active bass are drawn to top-water lures the most.
Best Times of the Year
Despite its reputation as a poor time for topwater fishing, springtime sees bass cruising shallow flats with plenty of cover. They take use of the fact that the water here heats more quickly to increase their metabolic rate. Potential bass magnets are stump fields, and fishing poppers in them may lead to fantastic days of fishing.
Popper fishing is especially enjoyable in the summer when fish are generally active. As a matter of fact, in clear water, bass will often migrate from deeper water to shallow structures where oxygen levels are greater and a variety of baitfish are present.
Topwater fishing also works really well in the spring. Anglers that use bigger poppers may catch some of their biggest fish when hitting those lunkers during spawning season. Finding those active and hungry fish in the spring can yield great top water results as the big fish protect their nests and spawning grounds.
We love this comprehensive bass fishing times guide as well.
Water Clarity and Color
Another factor worth mentioning in how to fish poppers is water clarity. If you’re fishing in crystal-clear water, such as the kind found in northern reservoirs and natural lakes, go for top water poppers in a natural color or a transparent hue. Smallmouth bass, in particular, are more prone to being fooled by a well-hidden lure that seems to be part of the water’s surface. Choosing a silver or chrome bottom, which resembles baitfish such as shad and alewives, is also an excellent idea.
For muddy or discolored water, pick a brighter-colored popper. It’s the popper’s distinctive sound that can first attract an inquisitive fish, but the color will bring on the bite. Brighter colors, such as chartreuse, orange, or even black, will offer a better silhouette to the bass and aid in the lure being hit once the bass concentrates on the direction of the sound.
Let’s Talk Equipment
What Kinds of Poppers are the Best?
Poppers come in various shapes, sizes and colors. Mostly they have the distinctive shaped concave nose on them that produce the “pop and walk” motion on the water. There is not one color, size, or shape that works well in every situation.
In clear water lakes, I prefer something like this one below. I’ve been fishing it now for several sessions and it’s working great! It’s inexpensive to get on Amazon (click the link to buy), shiny, and does a great job popping with a slow retrieval. There are loads of other packages of poppers if you would like to try a few to find out what works best on your lake.
What Kind of Line Works Well with Poppers?
Poppers do a lot of moving. Jerking and twitching motions mean they dance and jump all over the place. Because of this, the best line to use is a monofilament line like this one from Berkley. For one, a monofilament is a floating line so the lure will stay more on top. A fluorocarbon line will not work well because it will pull your lure down in the water and won’t let it stay above the water line and have great action.
Secondly, a monofilament will be less likely to get tangled in the lure’s treble hook than a braided line.
If you have fished with braided line you know that tangles are easy to come by and hard to get rid of. So staying with a tangle-resistant monofilament is the best way to go with fishing poppers.
Read more about our comprehensive guide on choosing the right fishing line.
What Kind of Rod?
Fishing poppers involves getting that lure into tight cover and fishing amongst a lot of structure. It’s best to have a shorter and lighter rod in these situations. This rod from KastKing works great. The lighter rod allows you to “flick” the bait more precisely, and the shorter length enables you to fish in tight quarters…where bass love to hide.
A popper lure’s concave face is its most distinctive characteristic but it’s sound and vibration are equally important to triggering a bite. To catch bass, you need to use the lure’s cupped face in tandem with a pop-and-pause technique that makes the sounds that attract fish. In spring and autumn, a popper should be fished slowly and methodically since the water temperature is lower. Anglers often make the error of working it too quickly. After jerking or pushing the lure, always let it rest for a few seconds before using it again. Wait for the water rings to dissipate before moving on. In chilly water, you should let it to rest for a longer period of time between draws than in warm water.
You should also try to learn the kind of cadence bass like. One-two-three-stop or a one-stop two-stop for largemouth bass would be my recommendation. Speed up the cadence and pause if baitfish are present and bass are feasting on them. Don’t allow them to get a good look at the bait. Hopefully you now have a good idea of how to fish poppers.
Just nailed my first largemouth bass on a popper this morning. Thanks for the tips. I found that if you keep the lure continually moving, it has better results. Pop, pop, reel, pop, pop reel. No rest.