Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page


In the last few years surface popping lures have gained a bit of a cult following with bass anglers. I think that Steve Butler and Mike Hughes, who fish together in North Wales, were responsible for the first successful attempts at surface water bassing. I amd fairly new to the use of this type of plug so I don't know too much about their potential (other than what I have been told by Mike and Steve) but I can say that surface lures make for exciting and interesting fishing.

Poppers are essentially cylindrical plugs with flat or dished faces. They are quite big and bulky so they will often cast a good distance. They float on the surface of the water, tail down. When the line is twitched or jerked the lure splutters, pops and throws up a spray of water droplets. The size of the commotion depends on how hard you jerk the line. The splashing seems to resemble the disturbance caused by a predator striking at near surface baitfish and has the effect of attracting bass which are nearby.

The methods of fishing with these surface lures range from a fast, straight, steady retrieve which leaves a wake across the surface to little twitches interspersed with long pauses. I believe that the steady retrieve will catch bass although I have not tried it yet (it was certainly the best method for luring barracuda when I was on holiday). There are an infinite number of twitch and pause combinations. I have now caught quite a few bass by giving a couple of sharp tugs separated by two to four second pauses but I am told that longer pauses and lesser twitches may be more effective. The reactions of the fish may, of course, differ according to conditions. Only time will tell!

Virtually all my fish have taken the lure when it was more or less stationary (I am sure that this is not always the case). It will be obvious therefore that razor sharp hooks and a tight line are essential to successful popper fishing. These days I always use braided lines so there is firm contact with a taking fish provided the line is tight. I guess that stretchy line and/or a soft actioned rod could mean lots of missed fish. Recent correspondence in the Bass anglers Sportfishing Society confirms that this may be the case. Braided lines minimise bowing of the line by the wind and again this is probably an advantage. I understand that some anglers in North America do not work the lure with the rod but simply point the rod at the 'plug' and use the reel to produce the popping movement. This would, of course, help to keep contact with the lure.

One last comment. Poppers fish literally right on the surface and can be retrieved with confidence over the roughest ground. Thinking about it, you probably only ever need to buy one and it could last you for life.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Spinning from the shore.


Small Rapala Skitterpop.

The popper lies on the surface tail down.  The tail hook is dressed with one of the hair like tinsels and may add to the attraction of the lure.

A bass taken on a Skitterpop.

Fish of all sizes seem to be attracted to these lures.

Saltwater Chug Bug.

A bit bigger than the Skitterpop and a different profile but seemingly equally effective.

A victim of the Chug Bug.

Another lovely, late season, fish from 2001.

Yet another popper the Chico Boca.

This lure seems to be well finished and again works just as well as the others.  Dave Cooling caught the fish.