Sunday, September 23, 2012

Top Water Baits Part 2: Poppin' and Chugging

Welcome to Part 2 in my series on the best of best when it comes to Top Water baits. As we discussed last time there are many different styles of bait and each has it's place in your arsenal depending on water and weather conditions,  these styles include: Frogs, BuzzBaits, Skitterpops, wake baits, Poppers, and Walking baits. Last week we looked into Walking Baits (found here) and for today we will be focusing on the slow gurgling fish enticing Poppers!

Over the past few years I have fallen into a bit of a routine when it comes to poppers, and I have been using two or three baits over and over again. These baits will be listed below, but I will also include a few newcomers to the market. Some of these new poppers are not yet tried and true, but they are too sweet to pass up.

Things to Look For: 

Poppers are the loud little brother to walking baits. They are designed to move slower then walking baits and thus can be used in windier conditions or in dirtier water. I find the most successful popping baits have the following three characteristics...
1) A Big Mouth! yes this seems obvious but if you are buying a popper with a small or shallow mouth you really are doing yourself a disservice. The larger/deeper mouth gives your bait the ability to really gurgle water and call fish in from long distance. If you can hear your bait, don't expect the fish to!
2) Tail Down presentation: Some poppers like the Chug bug are designed to sit flat in the water, personally I prefer my baits to sit with the bottom hook hanging down low under the water. This gives the fish a nice target and is more prone to catch fish swiping at the bait instead of in haling it. 

3) Shake your tail feathers!: I don't buy any popper that does not have feathers on the tail hook, period. This is a no brainier and kind of goes side by side with point 2 (above). These feathers are great for providing the fish with a nice juicy target and gives your bait a little extra movement even when paused 

Ok, now on to the baits (in no particular order)

1) Heddon Pop'n Image  

I keep two or three of these bad boys with me at all times. The color pictured here is my go to option (Tennessee Shad) and it works wonders over deeper water or if there is any chop at all. The Pop'n Image has a larger body profile then most poppers that helps to be be seen easily. It is equipped with a decent rattle and a small but deep mouth for great pop'n action.
These baits have a great paint job and life like scale reflection. I opt for this bait over other poppers when Im looking for longer casts or increase visibility. It is not the loudest popper in my arsenal but it gets the job done


2) Bill Lewis Spitfire

The Bill Lewis Spitfire may be my favorite top water popper in my collection (currently). With it's large wide mouth it moves more water then any popper I have tried to date. The Spitfire is equipped with a collection of mini ball bearings instead of one larger knockers and thus gives off a different but highly effective sound. This bait does not slit as low in the water as the Pop'n Image but it still provides a decent target with it's blood red hook and white tail feather.

I do wish the tail hook was a little larger, but overall I have no complaints on how this bait works day in and day out. I prefer to use the Spitfire on calmer days, it works well in clear water and in both sunny and shade conditions

Sorry guys, this is a hard to find bait and as far as Im aware it is not currently in production.

3) Storm Chug Bug

I think this bait is the only Storm lure in my entire fishing arsenal. The Chug bug is the longest of the poppers I carry and it walks the line between a popper and a walking bait.. yes you can do both at the same time. Equipped with the loudest rattle of all the poppers I own the Chug bug really calls the fish in. It has a wide down turned mouth that moves a lot of water and the long body makes sure it can easily be seen.

Im not a huge fan of the hooks that come with the chug bug out of the package, so I will usually switch them out.

Honorable Mentions:

I want to include three honourable mentions that may not be current staples in my arsenal but I expect they will replace one or more of thee above baits in years to come

The first honorable mention goes to the Rapala X-Pop (pictured at the top). It has a great body design with an ultra durable finish. It pops really well and casts like a bullet for a smaller bait. When paused the X-Pop sits ass down with jsut the baits nose above the water

The second honorable mention goes to the Deps Pule code, which was introduced at ICAST this year and I was not able to get my hands on one until after my tournament season came to an end. I love what I see from the bait and can see it as a replacement for my Heddon Pop'n Image baits very soon. It has the same large profile body, with loud internal rattle, but it sits better in the water and moves more water then the Pop'n Image

Last but not least we have the IMA Big Stick, this is not your everyday popper and may see limited to no action on the water some seasons. But, when looking for a big fish bait to add that kicker fish to your live well, there is no other popper that can compete with the monster that is the "Big Stick" (it's like the Chug Bug on steroids). I cant wati to bust some fall and spring smallies on this bait

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