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christopherwofford

Help! Top Water Poppers!

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I have had a decent amount of trouble this week using top water poppers, I fish on Lake Lanier around docks hardly ever on a boat. So I figure just use them as they are implied to use. But I am constantly casting next to docks and only a handful of times have I seen a bass surface to the lure and then all I see is his belly turn when he goes back down, never striking the lure.

Am I supposed to keep popping when i see him surface or leave it be till he strikes? I cant figure out these things and my father says I may have to wait till later months but I believe hes talking about Jitter Bugs.

Let me know your opinions on top water poppers and what I could be doing wrong.

Thanks!

Christopher W.

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i fish most topwater slow, not sure in your neck of woods, but right now i am using topwater, soon as it hits water i wait the most a minute and let the wake around it die. then i vary my retrieve, usally 3 pops, then let the ripples die pop it maybe once, pause a sec, then 3 more pops, really no right answer, not sure if all fisherman do it but with topwater i make several repeated casts to same spot

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If you see a fish coming up, try letting it sit for a couple seconds, if the fish stops and stares, pop it again, if the fish is coming up towards it fast, wait and see if it hits it, if not, pop it.

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i fish most topwater slow, not sure in your neck of woods, but right now i am using topwater, soon as it hits water i wait the most a minute and let the wake around it die. then i vary my retrieve, usally 3 pops, then let the ripples die pop it maybe once, pause a sec, then 3 more pops, really no right answer, not sure if all fisherman do it but with topwater i make several repeated casts to same spot

x2

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For the most part, I don't fish poppers that slow. I think of them as a buzz bait with multiple treble hooks on them. I like to move them pretty quickly, pop, pop, pop, don't stop. The advantage that poppers have over a buzz bait is that you can stop them, which I will occasionally when I'm just past what I consider a prime target. I don't stop them all that much though, very seldom when I'm fishing them in relatively open water.

Just for the record, this isn't my favorite bait or presentation. I generally have one tied on, but I'll only fish it in what I consider very positive or pristine conditions. Anyway, I might not be the best guy to listen to on this subject.

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I fish poppers very slowly in most of the clear water lakes that I fish. They will analyze the bait for a long time sometimes when they eat it. I like to use smaller poppers in natural colors and even clear at times. Sometimes in clear water a faster retrieve will work better but in those situations I usually switch to a walking bait. It's possible they just don't want to break the surface. You might try a floating worm or wacky rigged senko for those fish.

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What kind of popper are you using? Some are made to fish more slowly, like the pop-r, while others like the chug bug are meant to fish faster, and use a dog-walk motion. If you are using the first kind, make sure you have some kind of dressing on the rear hook, I rarely catch anything on one with a bare rear hook. If you are using the second type, try to keep the lure walking until the fish takes it under. They usually want those to keep moving. You can slow down the cadence if they are missing or not striking. I like to toss a tube, slug, or senko in on a fish when they just come out to look.

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many ways to work a popper, walking it with or without pauses, typical slow chug pause, quick erratic snaps popping it along for 3-5 pops then pause. sometimes too slow is too slow and the fish looks at it like ah hum. when that same fish when erratically popping it along will elicit a reaction strike etc...letting it sit and just subtly twitching it with long pauses may work at times in that situation just after a swing from a fish. there are also many reasons it could be that the fish isn't committing, who knows...

depending what i feel, i may throw repeatedly with the popper with a different presentation or i would of most likely thrown a weightless plastic right after. with a high probability if i miss a fish for whatever reason on a topwater & i follow up throwing something else to the same spot/fish, i'll get'em...

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IMHO one of the worst things to do in gin clear water is to stop it and let them look at it for very long. Keep it moving, often I move it FASTER when I see one come up behind it to try to get them to react, you may only draw one out and it never hits it, but now you know where he/she lives and you can pitch a slower jig or soft plastic bait to that spot in a little while.

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^ What ww2farmer says ^

I got a hard strike throwing a swimbait right after the bass poked my popper and retreated under a jet ski. If you got his attention he has to be hungry right?

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Try using the popper in low light conditions like overcast days, early morning or early evening. Also, anything more than a slight ripple on the surface isn't great for poppers, so what you want to do is try using it when the coditions are good for it, that way you'll be able to hone your skills with it.

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But what about the middle of a hot sunny summer day? A buggy popper may be the only thing to produce. And if it's windy why can't you walk a popper with rattles?

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Learn how to walk your popper. Also, whether they want it slow or fast don't use the exact same cadence all the way back on every cast.

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Do you use a scent on the lure?

I notice the presentation i always use has to be perfect. Its a 1, 2, 3 short pops(walk the dog) then a pause. Then repeat it perfect. Timing is everything.

I do wash my tackle boxes out and my lures every fall to get the foul oders and the smell from using scents all season off of them. I wash my hands before going fishing and do not touch a gas pump on the way to fishing too. The fish can smell up to 2ppb in the water.

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I love poppers, and I've caught some of my biggest bass on them. I like to fish them early morning or night and when the water is calm. I kind of agree with your dad that I seem to have the best luck when the water is a little warmer in later months. Definitely vary your pop and retrieve speed. You'll figure out what the fish like and stick with it.

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Am I supposed to keep popping when i see him surface or leave it be till he strikes?

Both

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RICO's.

Enough said!!!!

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Cadence is key when fishing top water baits, you need to experiment until you find what they are looking for, obviously, you were close to a strike with what you were doing.

If the fish rolled when it got to the lure it could have been your color choice too, I like to use anything that has bright colors on the bottom, especially white, one of my favorite top water poppers is a Hula Popper.

The cadence I use a lot is a continuious retrieve, it does not give the fish enough time to think, all it knows is the bait is getting away and it does not give the fish enough time to think about it and strike instead, hold your rod tip down close to the water and use very small jerking motions as you reel the line, to make the bait walk, or if you are fishing from the bank use a spinner set up and pinch the line up against the rod in front of the spool as close to the spool as you can, this creates a stop/start motion and makes the bait walk without having to use the rod.

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many ways to work a popper, walking it with or without pauses, typical slow chug pause, quick erratic snaps popping it along for 3-5 pops then pause. sometimes too slow is too slow and the fish looks at it like ah hum. when that same fish when erratically popping it along will elicit a reaction strike etc...letting it sit and just subtly twitching it with long pauses may work at times in that situation just after a swing from a fish. there are also many reasons it could be that the fish isn't committing, who knows...

depending what i feel, i may throw repeatedly with the popper with a different presentation or i would of most likely thrown a weightless plastic right after. with a high probability if i miss a fish for whatever reason on a topwater & i follow up throwing something else to the same spot/fish, i'll get'em...

This

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Generally I use poppers in cloudy or around sunset and sunrise. I fish them pretty slow, alternating the length of my pauses and the intensity of the bloops and blips. Sticking to them at mostly these times and using this type of retrieve helps. A faster, skittering retrieve is best in lakes with lots of shad that are fast moving.

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Wofford, tons and tons of great advice on this thread, but I have something to add that's real important. BTW, I fish Lanier quite a bit, so this advice has some personal experience to back it up : )

I promise the reason you aren't catching them is because Lake Lanier is LOADED with Blueback Herring. When fishing Lanier, or any Blueback lake for that matter, you gotta speed your topwaters up! Race that popper across the surface, to make it seem like it's frantically trying to escape those magnum spots that are in there. I guarantee the fish that are nosing your bait and turning away will smack it. I have witnessed schools of inactive fish TURN THE FRICK ON when racing a topwater over their heads. For sunny days on Lanier, I would toss a spook style bait like a Spro Dawg 100 or Heddon Spook Jr. When the cloud cover picks up a bit, that's when I would use the popper. Make sure you have a soft plastic jerkbait like a Zoom Fluke or a stick bait like a Yamamoto Senko tied on to catch the fish that hit and missed your topwater.

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Wofford, tons and tons of great advice on this thread, but I have something to add that's real important. BTW, I fish Lanier quite a bit, so this advice has some personal experience to back it up : )

I promise the reason you aren't catching them is because Lake Lanier is LOADED with Blueback Herring. When fishing Lanier, or any Blueback lake for that matter, you gotta speed your topwaters up! Race that popper across the surface, to make it seem like it's frantically trying to escape those magnum spots that are in there. I guarantee the fish that are nosing your bait and turning away will smack it. I have witnessed schools of inactive fish TURN THE FRICK ON when racing a topwater over their heads. For sunny days on Lanier, I would toss a spook style bait like a Spro Dawg 100 or Heddon Spook Jr. When the cloud cover picks up a bit, that's when I would use the popper. Make sure you have a soft plastic jerkbait like a Zoom Fluke or a stick bait like a Yamamoto Senko tied on to catch the fish that hit and missed your topwater.

Yep, when you have pelagic forage like blue backs, speed up your retrieve. When you fish waters like mine where panfish are the primary food supply, slow down. Good rule of thumb.

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Let the fish tell you whether to fish it slow or fast. Try bringing it right next to brush also. pause it right by the brush then pop and you will get hit more often after that pause. Be sure that when the bass hits it you dont set the hook instantly let him take it then set the hook. You may be setting the hook too fast and pulling it out of her mouth before she fully takes it. Hope this helps!

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Thanks a whole lot all of you! I take all your words of wisdom seriously and will be out on the lake this weekend to try and test them out. Remember though I very rarely use hard plastic baits or jigs, I am a rubber worm guy through and through. Top water is something I have only ever try'ed in ponds till recently, so I am new to Lakes with this strategy but I do very much appreciate all of your help and will keep this post up to date with my progress if any.

Thank you all!

Christopher W.

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I tend to use poppers when I see bait fish breaking the surface. Mostly on calm days. Yes early morning and evening are best but really I let the bait fish tell me when to throw a popper. I then start the popper with a fast pop pop pause pop pause etc. If that doesn't elicit a strike, I slow down a bit. I tend to stick to silver colors because that's what I see popping the surface in the lakes I fish. One thing that's helped me with my popping hook sets has been my experience with frogs. I tend to wait to "set the hook" with a popper. No, I don't really set the hook but I do wait to start fighting the fish back to the boat. When I first started working top water lures, I had a tendancy to yank on the rod when a fish hit and I pulled the bait away from the fish. Also, I pay attention to the treble hooks and make sure they're good sharp hooks. I know some guys will go with bigger hooks. The only word of caution here is to make sure they can't tangle with each other, that can be a pain in the backside. Hope this helps!

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