How To Fish Artificial Lures Under A Popping Cork (Plus Top 4 Mistakes)

By: Joseph Simonds on September 4, 2019
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how to fish with a popping cork

It’s popping cork time!

Popping corks are excellent at attracting predator fish because they sound just like a mullet or other baitfish getting rowdy on the surface.

When that redfish or trout comes to see what’s going on, lo and behold there’s a delicious shrimp or lure hanging out there just begging to be eaten and…

Pa-POW!

Fish on!

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to use popping corks, plus several common mistakes most anglers make.

So we brought back Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from FloridaKeysFunFishing.com to teach us the right way to use a popping cork.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to properly use a popping cork to catch more fish, then watch the video below now.

Enjoy!

How To Fish A Popping Cork [VIDEO]

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➡ Get your popping corks here

I love the way Capt. Mark teaches!

He has years of experience as a guide and he’s seen it all, including the best (and worst) ways to use popping corks.

Now let’s dive into how to use popping corks.

How To Cast While Using A Popping Cork

bull redfish caught on a popping cork

Here’s a theme you’ll notice with popping corks: it’s easy to get tangled up if you’re not using them correctly.

When you cast, you don’t want to snap it out there.

This will cause the cork and leader to start spinning, which will increase the chances of them getting tangled.

Instead, you want to gently lob it out there and minimize cork and lure revolutions.

This is the first step to successfully fishing with a popping cork.

Next, we’ll dive into how to actually work your cork.

How To Work The Cork For More Strikes

trout caught using 90-10 Fishing Rule

Before we get into the actual “popping” of the popping cork, here are two things you need to remember in order to not get tangled:

  1. Keep the line tight between the cork and your rod tip
  2. Keep your rod tip pointed at the cork (and not up or to the side)

When you pop your cork, you want to do it abruptly.

If you do it slowly, it won’t make that nice popping sound that attracts predator fish.

Also, doing it quickly allows for the cork to just pop while staying in the strike zone, and not drag through the water closer to you.

As far as how often to pop, Capt. Mark will do one to a few pops, while always making sure to have a pause that allows the lure to settle and give the fish an opportunity to eat it.

Popping Cork Mistakes

how to catch redfish

Here are some of the most common mistakes Capt. Mark sees from anglers using popping corks.

Mistake #1: Holding the rod at 90 degrees to their side

When you’re holding the rod off to your side and not pointed at the cork, when you do point it at the cork there is a little slack in the line that easily gets wrapped around your rod tip.

Make sure to always point your rod towards the cork.

Mistake #2: Not reeling in the slack

Just like mistake #1, the problem here is that slack in your line makes it easy to wrap around your rod tip.

Mistake #3: Keeping your rod tip too high

When your rod tip is high, it pulls the cork out of the water.

This makes it impossible to pop the cork, which is what attracts fish.

Mistake #4: Reeling the cork in like a plug

When you continuously reel a cork in, you’re not allowing it to pop.

Also, if you don’t pause between a pop or series of pops, you don’t allow the lure to settle and be found by the fish.

➡ Get your popping corks here

Conclusion

jack crevalle on a popping cork

Big jack crevalle caught on a popping cork

Popping corks are great for attracting fish because they sound like a noisy baitfish, but if you don’t work them correctly they can be ineffective or get tangled easily.

When you’re fishing with a cork remember these three things:

  1. Lob it out there so it doesn’t get tangled right away
  2. Point your rod tip towards the cork and keep the line tight so it doesn’t wrap around your rod tip
  3. Pop the cork abruptly once or several times, but then pause and allow the fish a chance to bite your lure

You can book a trip with Capt. Mark or one of his captains at FloridaKeysFunFishing.com.

Have a question about using popping corks?

Let us know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to TAG or SHARE this with someone who uses popping corks!

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James Gordon Stallingsjerry wagnerTom PaigeJoe ChamberlainLuis Amed Lebron Diaz Recent comment authors
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James Gordon Stallings
Member

Helpful tips! I’m never sure what’s the best rod and reel combo when popping for reds? Minimum size suggestions should a bull red bite or better to use a heavier, dedicated set-up for the big fish? I’ve been using a Fenwick HMG Med Light-Fast rod with Penn Conflict 2500.

Jerry Wagner
Member

how to rig popping cork

Tom Paige
Member

Was that a 3 inch paddle tail under that cork in the video?

Luis Amed Lebron Diaz
Member

How long must be the leader from the popping cork to the hook, until bottom, 1/2 way 3/4 way?

Rudy Castaneda
Member

That’s some good Point Hollywood.
So you’re saying that the best way is to point your tip towards a cork and jerking it downward. That is great when you’re standing on the bow of your boat. But I am a disabled veteran that fishes from a kayak and I’m not able to stand. So what would be the best way for retrieving a cork for me.

Luke Simonds
Admin

When fishing from a kayak, the best way to do it is to hold the rod at whichever angler lets you get about 1 ft above the water. And then do the same rod tip twitch motion explained in this video to work the cork.

Richard Fiorentino
Member

I rig a cork myself with sinker stops so I can adjust the leader to the hook. Also, when using live bait it is better to use a circle hook because it is tough to set the hook on a cork setup.

Nick Strickland
Member

Long gone are the days of big thick bamboo poles to slap the water with. Use to be common on the Indian river. Same effect though.👍

Richard Doane
Member

Excellent. I love popping corks. Great tips. Keep them coming

Joe Chamberlain
Member

Good stuff Hollywood. I’m a popping cork man myself. I would add three points that might help those just getting into it. When popping the cork apply a quick jerk sideways or down as you describe but immediately after the jerk, point your rod back to the cork. It will help you keep the cork in the same place rather than dragging it. You touched on this point.
Next, and you touched on this, when popping a cork in our area( vast expanses of grass flats) we pop the cork loud and hard. We’re not trying to mimic baitfish, we’re trying to mimic baitfish getting hammered by gator trout or big reds. Like you said it’s an attractant so we do some serious advertising with a loud kapow.
Last -sometimes the trout, even the big ones are lethargic. Say you get a takedown then the float comes back up. We use pinfish primarily so in this case it’s not a bait stealer. After it comes back up the thing to do is to “ tickle” it towards you about a foot, as if it’s getting away. Then let it stop and settle down. Many times the result will be a strong takedown.
Lots more to cover here like how long should the leader be under the cork, type of hook, which knot to use at the hook, how to hook various baits, especially pinfish under a cork, how to fish areas with lots of floating grass and various drift strategies over huge grass flat areas.
Hollywood, you know your stuff and you’re a good teacher. Thank you for covering so much in the limited video time you had. I would enjoy another series on this very productive method. It is used extensively in the Big Bend area of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Maybe there are other who would like to see more? Thanks again. Joe<

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment Joe! There will definitely be more lessons on the different angles of this subject soon. Tight Lines!

Joe Chamberlain
Member

Thank you!

Sam Petteway
Member

I use the poppin cork often in 4 to 10 ft of water. (1) What is your thought on the line length under the cork (2ft versus 4ft)? (Shorter line pops better however longer might get you closer to flounder or fish on the bottom. ) (2) What is you thought on a poppin cork with live bait (mullet/shrimp)? What is your thought on using a circle hook with a poppin cork? THANKS!!

Luke Simonds
Admin

The length of line under the cork depends on the target depth you want to fish… anywhere from 1.5 ft to 4 ft seems to be the most used range. I use poppin corks with live bait frequently, and they work great… I just don’t frequently pop it like I do with articials (instead let it sit most of the time with an occasional pop to attract some attention to the bait. Yes, circle hooks do work well under poppin corks when using live bait.

Paul Henderson
Member

In the video i see, probably, fluorocarbon from cork to shrimp but it looks like crinkled up fluoro also above cork. I would have thought that would be braid?

Luke Simonds
Admin

Yes, using a ~10-inch piece of mono above the popper helps keep the braid from getting tangled around the cork… a detailed video showing that with explanations coming soon.

CAPTAIN DAVE WRIGHT
Member

Great Video! I agree100%. My biggest problem with clients is getting them to twitch the wrist to ‘pop’ that cork. Not reel it like a plug or just let it set like a fresh water bluegill bobber. Thanks for the video… think I will show it to clients! Cap’t Dave. LIV2FISH CHARTERS

Tom Watts
Member

Captain Mark, Great tutorial on the proper way to use a popping cork. I have caught a lot of fish on a popping cork. Terrific! Thank you, Tom Watts, Naples, Fl.

Gregory Batchelor
Member

Good stuff Holywoooooood!

Calvin Close
Member

I use about 6-10 inches of leader between braid and cork. Tangling problem solved

Paul Henderson
Member

What knots? Now you have 4 if i am understanding you correctly?

Calvin Close
Member

Yes you are correct

David Fender
Member

I’ve been waiting for this video! I’ve been saltwater fishing for over 20 years just started using popping corks this year and couldnt figure this thing out. I was just using it last weekend and was about to give up on it because I’ve yet to catch anything using it even when I can see reds feeding I tried it and nothing. Now I know exactly what I was doing wrong. The money I’ve spent becoming a member here has been the best money I’ve ever spent! Thank you you guys are doing a great job! I want to get out in the middle of this hurricane and try this out now!