Topwater poppers go back to the earliest days of bass fishing. They are one of the oldest styles of bass lures still being made today, and still effectively catching fish. Over the years these lures have evolved in to all different shapes and styles, but what they all have in common is a bowl-shaped face on the front of the bait. It’s the this feature that makes them “pop”.
Poppers are categorized as topwater lures, that when worked correctly makes an attracting noise on the surface that is referred to as a “pop”. It’s a splashing noise created when the lure is tugged forward and the bowl-shaped mouth plows through the waters surface. Different shapes, styles, and sizes put out difference noises, but at the end of the day they are all designed to mimic a struggling baitfish on the surface.
Types of Poppers
Although there are many different popper lures out there, there are two ways to categorize them: Chuggers and Spitters. They appear to be pretty similar, but the noise and disturbance they create on the surface is what sets them apart.
These are your classic popper lures, they are designed to make that “pop” noise on the surface. When they are pulled forward in a jerking motion, they plow the waters surface and create a bubble/dome of water over the bait.
It’s when the bubble bursts that it creates the popping noise, it’s similar to the sound of a water drop. The motion also makes a round rippling ring of water around it. A classic example of a chugger is the Hula Popper.
This style popper is a little younger than the chugger. It has a similar shape and design as a chugger but if you look closely you’ll see that the shape of the mouth is not symmetrical. The top part of the mouth sticks out further in front of the bait than the bottom, preventing a perfectly round bubble to be created.
Instead it spits the water out in front of the bait, hence the name spitter. The Rebel Pop-R is one of the more popular spitters out there.
Fishing Popper Lures
Poppers are one of the easiest bass lures to fish, so they make great lures for beginners. This is because there is no finesse or careful strike detection required to effectively catch bass with a popper. For a basic retrieve, you simply cast it out and give the rod a solid jerk every so often. While the lure is at rest you reel in the slack line.
So how long should the lure stay at rest on the surface? Like with all topwater lures, the wind speed and amount of ripple on the surface will tell you how fast you should be fishing a popper. If there is a lot of wind and a solid ripple on the surface then without question you want to fish a popper fast. A bass is hardly going to notice a popper sitting still on a rough surface.
If the surface has a light ripple or flat calm then start with a quick retrieve, meaning less pause time between jerks. If bass are active they are going to attack something moving quickly, and the faster you can move it the more water you can cover. If your fishing an area that looks good, or better yet you know is good, then take a few casts only letting the popper sit for two seconds between jerks.
Keep casting in the area but increasing the time between jerks, this is how you will narrow down how active bass are feeding. Don’t be surprised if it takes up to thirty seconds to even a minute before bass will begin to strike. Depending on the conditions bass can get sluggish, and if thats the case they will be looking for an easy meal.
A good rule-of-thumb is to let the lure sit until all the ripples it made have disappeared. This is usually a good length of time for the pause period. Some strikes occur randomly while the lure is sitting still, so always be ready to set the hook. The sudden movement after a long pause can also trigger reaction strikes from nearby bass, so be especially ready after give the bait a jerk.
Like all topwater lures, poppers are especially good in the summer mornings and evenings. They are far from weedless so you’ll want to fish them as tight to cover as you can without getting hung up.