How To Rig A Popping Cork For Redfish (Best Knots, Corks & Rigs)

how to rig and use popping corks for redfish

Are you rigging popping corks correctly?

Here’s the deal: if you want to catch big redfish, every tiny little detail matters…

From the way you rig your cork, to the knots you use, to the type of cork you use.

Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from is back today to help us nail down all of those details and make sure we’re giving ourselves the best chance to put fish in the boat.

Ready to catch more fish on popping corks?

Watch the video below.

Best Rig, Corks, & Knots For Popping Corks [VIDEO]

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How To Choose A Popping Cork

best popping corks for redfish and trout

The first question you need to answer is which cork to use.

Capt. Mark has caught fish on all types of corks, but he does prefer corks with concave tops because they make a little more noise and move more water.

He also prefers the more heavy-duty corks with large beads and bendable wire because sometimes jacks, sharks or even big redfish will try to eat the actual cork.

In addition, the large beads make a rattle that sounds similar to mullet or pogies being active on the surface.

Now, you might need to pay a little more for the corks he recommends in the video, but because they’re more durable and attract more fish, it’s worth it.

To see the corks he recommends, click here.

How To Rig A Popping Cork

rig a popping cork for redfish

Now that you’ve chosen a popping cork, you need to rig it properly.

The key here is to match your equipment with the environment and fish you’re targeting.

In this video, we were fishing the murky waters in Louisiana for 40 lb redfish, so we were using 60 lb leader.

If you’re fishing the flats for 3-10 lb reds, 20 lb leader is a better option.

As far as leader length, that depends on how deep the water is that you’re fishing.

For shallower water, you can go as short as 18 inches, and for deeper water you can go up to four feet.

Any leader longer than four feet on a popping cork makes it hard to cast, so Capt. Hollywood won’t go any longer than that.

redfish on popping corks

Pro-tip for using popping corks and braided line:

Braided line has essentially no memory and easily doubles back on itself, so if the line is not tight, it’s easy to get wrapped up around the cork.

To combat that, Capt. Mark ties on a 15-18″ buffer of mono between the braided line and the cork.

This makes it much less likely that you’ll wrap your main line around the cork and compromise its strength.

Finally, Capt. Mark mentioned that uses a clinch knot on nearly all of the connections in this rig.

He uses it for the:

  • Leader to hook/jighead
  • Leader to popping cork
  • Mono buffer to popping cork.

The only connection he did not mention was the braided line to mono buffer.

For that connection, we recommend tying the FG knot.

To see our full breakdown and test of all the best fishing knots, check out this post here.


big redfish on popping cork

If you’re fishing with popping corks, remember this:

  1. You want a cork that makes lots of noise that mimics baitfish and attracts predator fish
  2. Take your time rigging them because there’s no heartbreak like having a trophy red break you off because of careless rigging
  3. Clinch knots are quick, strong and easy knots for rigging up these corks
  4. If you’re using braided line, a buffer of mono between the braid and the cork can help decrease tangles and wraps

And if you’re down in the Keys, you can book a trip with Capt. Mark or one of his captains at

Have any questions 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!

P.S. Want more in-depth tips, local fishing spots, and access to exclusive fishing lures and gear? Join us in the Insider Club!

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Cris Peña
Cris Peña
3 months ago

How can I order slam shady 6 inch soft plastic lures, do you sell them or z-man?

John Martin
John Martin
11 months ago

Hi Mark,
I find Z-man Bait too by hard too get on a hock correctly. Wonder, about corks here in Lemon Bay Englewood Florida in the winter November to end of April.? I fish for Reds,trout sheep heads, flounder, blues and Spanish macs. Have Boat
Fish in Ontario Canada all summer for Walleye and Musky Bass.Sunfish and huge crappies. Do well with jigs and Plastic.
Find it harder to caught fish down south. Hope Corks will up my chances.
Best Regards
john Martin

Jsans01rt Sans
Jsans01rt Sans
11 months ago

Hi, from Southeast LA. Glad to see you boys doing a report from God’s country. We have some awesome fishing over here and our limits are awesome too.

Larry Carr
Larry Carr
11 months ago

Great info. Thank you much.

L.L. Abbey
L.L. Abbey
11 months ago

Great info as always ! This is my 1st post after a year of enjoying all the best of Salt Strong ????!
I’m a Brevard Co. guy, & your tips ( & Tony’s!) have been tremendous.
1st cast with my cork pulled a 5-6 lb Red & then the Snook started after the shrimp !
Love what you guys do, THANKS !!

11 months ago

Have you ever tried this method in the surf (casting beyond the breakers on relatively calm surf day)?

A. Rollins
A. Rollins
11 months ago

I’ve got a box full of crippled corks. Does any one know a reliable method to keep a cork safe from ambushing alligators?

Andy Benedict
Andy Benedict
11 months ago

Great info and very helpful! Thank you

James Gordon Stallings
James Gordon Stallings
11 months ago

Go-to popping cork rods for 4000 reels?

11 months ago

Why do you use a cinch knot and not a loop knot on leader to lure connection? Thanks

11 months ago

Great info, have used popping corks a lot, but have used different knots and never had the mono buffer. Heading down to St Catherines, Ga next week and will be testing out this methods. Will report in results

Robert Tittl
Robert Tittl
11 months ago

you say you most like the high water brand popping corks with the concave heads. high water website shows a 4 inch terminator, 3 inch terminator, and a strikinator shallow popper. but they do not explain the applications/advantages/disadvantages of each. do you know this info, share if so, and which do you use? thanx!

John Purdue
John Purdue
11 months ago

Good info


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