Catching Fish Using Surface Poppers

Learn the proper technique for fishing with surface poppers.
Fishing with popping plugs can be an adrenaline rush. Tom Schlicter

Nothing beats surface poppers for anglers seeking an adrenaline rush. From bottle plugs to Jitterbugs, these lures are versatile, easy to cast, and push up a lot of water. Here are some tips for more hookups when tossing these fish magnets.

Provoke Reaction Strikes
Vary the retrieve in clear water so predators can’t get a good look at your lure. Add direction changes to each retrieve, or “walk the dog” for added chaos by bouncing the rod tip from side to side with each crank of the handle.

Repeat the Sequence
Fish often miss on initial strikes in rough or discolored water. Repeating the popping sequence helps them to zero in. Use a straight retrieve with a cadence that is easy to ­anticipate: pop, pop, pop, or pop, pause and repeat.


Wait For It
Don’t be quick setting the hook when fish explode on poppers. Delay a split second so your quarry fully engulfs the lure and turns away. A quick 2-count is sufficient.

Get Going
Time your first pop-inducing snap of the rod to coincide with the instant the lure hits the water. If your popper is just sitting still while you get ready, then it’s just a piece of plastic or wood to the fish. If you start popping immediately, then it looks like something good to eat or worthy of attack.

Quick Tip: While a loop knot connection gives most lures more action, it’s best to use a tight-clinching knot to help a popper pop.