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Top Water Lures and Rigs - Popper Baits

These lures and rigs are the way to go when fishing the upper water column and shallows.
Popping, chugging and walking top water lures come in a very wide range of shapes, colors, sizes, styles and materials.

While they are typically used to target larger, more aggressive species like bass, pike and pickerel in open water and around thick cover, miniature versions may also be used to land various types of panfish.

  • Suggested Seasonal Use: Open water; late-spring, summer and early fall

  • Species: Primarily bass, pike, pickerel and panfish, though other species may be caught

  • Types: Most lures in this category feature a hard body design with multiple treble hooks, however, soft-bodied lures with single or multiple weedless hooks are also produced for fishing around surface vegetation.

    • Popping, chugging or spitting baits generally feature a cupped-nose design that works to propel water forward and create significant sound and action on top of the water. This presentation can be deadly for triggering even the most lethargic of fish.

      Popper Bait

    • Walking style baits, which are made both with and without a cupped-nose, are known for their ability to entice reaction strikes by way of their renowned side-to-side action. Also known as “walking the dog,” anglers can create this side-to-side action by quickly dropping and raising the tip of their rod while retrieving the bait.

      Bait Walker

      Quick “pops” of the rod tip will make the bait dance back and forth on top of the water – resembling a wounded baitfish – and trigger vicious strikes from nearby fish. While these types of baits can tempt aggressive fish out of deep water, they are generally more effective over shallow and mid-depth areas.

  • How to Use:  One key to effectively presenting a popper or walking-style top water bait is to pair the bait with the proper fishing line. Monofilament and braided fishing line are much more optimal for these types of baits as these lines have greater buoyancy. This buoyancy allows the bait to remain on top of the water and act as designed when retrieved. In contrast, less buoyant lines such as fluorocarbon, tend to sink more and adversely affect the action of these types of baits.

    Another key to success with these baits is to wait for the bait to disappear before setting the hook. Anglers will often pull a top water lure away from a fish at the first sign of a bite, rather than waiting for the fish to fully “get” the lure. Sometimes bites can be loud and explosive while at other times they’ll emit a sucking noise like someone flushing the toilet. Still, at other times, your lure may simply disappear quietly without any noise or commotion. Always watch your lure and be prepared to set the hook at the right time.

    Both popping and walking-style top water baits can be a great choice for imitating wounded baitfish and targeting aggressively feeding or schooling fish, as well as sluggish fish that need to be triggered into biting!