Topwater Lure As A Popping Cork? You’ve Got To See This!!!

By: Tony Acevedo on November 18, 2019
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topwater cork with shrimp

What an amazing setup!

Have you ever tried using a topwater lure in place of a popping cork?

I used to use this setup to catch bass as a kid, and the trout have been so aggressive around here I wondered if it would work on them, too.

Before I went out, I sent it to the rest of the Salt Strong team to get their thoughts.

Some loved it, some had their doubts, but all they wanted to see proof if it would work or not.

A few days later I tried it out on the water and Pa-POW! Trout on!

Want to see how I rigged this wild set up, and how to work it to catch trout?

Check out the video below.

P.S. If you’ve ever been fishing with a popping cork and the fish are hitting that instead of the lure below it, this is a great fix!

Using A Topwater Lure As A Popping Cork [VIDEO]

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Lures used:

Here’s how to rig this setup to maximize your chances of catching fish and minimize your chances of getting tangled.

Step 1. Tie on 5-6 inches of fluoro or mono leader to the nose of the topwater lure with a snug knot

Braid easily doubles back on itself, so if you use a little bit heavier test of fluoro or mono leader to attach your main line to the topwater lure you’ll reduce chances of fouling up the topwater hook.

Click here to learn how to tie the best snug knot.

Step 2. Replace the front treble hook with a single inline hook

This will also reduce your chance of fouling the topwater hook.

Click here to learn more about replacing treble hooks with topwater hooks.

Click here to get single inline replacement hooks from our shop (Insiders only).

Step 3. Remove the rear hook & split ring

Get the split ring scissors from the shop here to easily remove the rear hook and split ring (Insiders only).

Step 4. Attach 1.5-2 feet of leader to the back of the topwater lure with a snug knot.

We suggest a snug knot to limit movement and therefore decrease the chance of fouling the hook.

Click here to learn how to tie the best snug knot.

And we suggest 1.5-2 feet of leader because if you use too long of a leader here, it’ll inhibit your ability to cast far.

Step 5. Attach the leader to your lure with a loop knot

We suggest a loop knot here because it will give the lure more action

Click here to learn how to tie the best loop knot.

On this trip, I had success with both the Chasebaits Flick Prawn and the Slam Shady after the topwater lure.

Retrieving This Setup To Catch More Fish

trout on topwater

You retrieve this rig just like a popping cork… a few quick pops and then letting the lure settle back down.

The amount of time between popping depends on how active the fish are, or the water depth.

If the fish are very active, you can pop the topwater lure more often.

But if they’re more lethargic, or the water is very deep, you want to take a bit more time between pops to let the lure in the back settle.


topwater lure as popping cork

What a fun rig!

I haven’t caught two at a time yet, but with how aggressive the trout have been recently, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Have you used this setup?

Let us know in the comments!

And if you know someone who would love this rig, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Tony AcevedoAnonymousKent WGlenn AcombSam Craparo Recent comment authors
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This is a super-effective way and my goto method for decades in the North-East, to deliver very small lures to fish focused only on eating tiny baits.

Kent W
Kent W

The guys of Fishon Reds YouTube channel use this type of rig quite often. Typically, they use a Catch 2000 up front and an AM fishing curl tail out back. I don’t know the guys personally, and I’m not affiliated with the lure companies. Just happens to be what they typically use.

Glenn Acomb

Very interesting. I’ll give it a try. Good way to use a tired beat-up top water hard bait.

Nathan Filks

Tony I use this same set up except you can leave the back hook on if you use a stiff wire leader on the back metal loop of the top water. Then tie the shrimp leader to it. Keeps the shrimp leader from getting fouled as often. Works great when trout or hitting top water or if you see them hit your popping cork.

Don Miller

Thanks Tony! A new tool for the tool box. This should work great for the darker waters that I fish here in Charleston,S.C.
Great video!

Clint Elliott

Nice! I tried that a while back but we were using mostly shad rigs ( double hooks) for trout and I left the treble hook on the bait. As you can imagine, the rig caught itself as often as fish. It was fun catching trout and redfish on it but frustrating. I’ll have to try this updated version. Thanks for the idea!

Gary Rankel

Good stuff, Tony.. I like using a Clouser Minnow behind the lure – it’s much lighter to cast with a light outfit.

Thom Ray

Tony that’s awesome ! Got another one for ya to try. The Double Fluke rig. I used that a lot bass fishing. Great action.

Joe Urbanek

Tony, great video as usual. I’ve been using this setup for years and I can say it does work. A guide out of South Padre TX, Skipper Ray showed this to me some time back and it has been a great producer. The difference is I have been tieing my trailer line to the back hook. I’ll have to give your set up a try to see if I get fewer tangles. I would say the ratio is 75% trailer and 25% on the top water. I also vary the weight of the tailer from a bare hook up to 1/4 oz depending on the water depth and how slow I want the trailer to fall. 90% of the time it’s a bare hook or 1/16 oz as we are fishing very shallow most of the time in the Laguna Madre flats.

Tom Watts

Tony, Great idea. Will try. Thanks, Tom Watts, Naples, Fl.

Scott Schraff

Great video and detail on the rigging Tony! Thank you! Like you, I have used a very similar setup for bass. I use a popper with no rear hook and a weedless single hook up front, as I’m usually bass fishing near weeds. Add a weedless double tail grub with EWG hook on the back, with 25 lb floro leader. The heavier leader is just stiff enough to reduce fouling of the two lures during the cast. Catches fish on both ends. I look forward to using your rig now.

Ruben Riojas

I fish out of Port Mansfield Texas and a top water with a trailer is a deadly combination. I have been using that rig for the past 15 years. I works awesome paired with DOA (shrimp – jerk bait – paddle tail) on a 1/8 jig head. It’s always on my boat. Tight lines

William Annon

Does it matter if the hook on the spook is facing forward or backward?

Enrique De La Garza

Gave this rig a fair shot last week out at Port Mansfield, TX and it flat out works! I used it with a DOA shrimp on a 1/16th jig head. On this particular day the I could see the trout swim up to investigate the top water and immediately crush the trailer. The biggest thing I found was letting the trailer drop. I realized I was working it to fast and as soon as I let the trailer drop I started getting bites. All the trout I caught were over 20 inches with the biggest going 24 inches. Tight lines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe Urbanek

Enrique, was that you I was talking to a few weeks ago which you in the kayak fishing the lights in South Padre at out pier? Just wondering…. Joe

Enrique De La Garza

Joe, nope wasn’t me. Been sticking to Pt. Mans since its the shortest distance from my house. Have not been out to SPI in a while.

Thomas Marks

Great tip Tony. Up on Lake Erie we used a similar concept trolling for walleye. Also used it on drop shot for small mouth bass. There we put on a jig instead of a sinker with the dropshot hook up the line with our bait.

Roger Summie

As an old fresh water mountain trout fly fisherman, this is called a dropper:) Dry fly on top, nymph trailing close to the bottom.
Works well fresh and salt!

Steve Perry

Roger, I was thinking the same thing. Heck, I’m still l in CO working on selling my house o love out to FL. Was thinking something like a large mouse pattern or similar fly. Large carnivore trout sure like them in fresh water. Worth a try to find something salt fish May go after. Have you found any dries that salt fish will go after?

Roger Summie

I’m still trying to figure out saltwater fishing with traditional spinning gear:)

Sam Craparo

Most freshwater flies are not appropriate for saltwater. There is good chance a fresh water fly would catch fish but you could hook a fish of a life time and that fly will probably straight out. I have hooked one hundred pound tarpon while fishing for sea trout. That will get your heart rate up. Probably better to give yourself a chance to land or at least prolong the battle.

Sam Craparo

I have used a setup with a fly in front of a plug. With a modified dropper rig with the fly was about 18” in front of the plug like it was Chasing a minnow. It was successful. Some times they ate the fly and sometimes they are the plug and sometimes both.

Steve Perry

Sam, see my comment to Ralph above. Curious what you’re using.

Sam Craparo

Used mirrolure 7M “ floater” or 52M “sinker” and a streamer like Leftey Deciever as the fly.

Lee Chaney

Being ex bass fisherman it puzzles me that none of you use Baitcasters? Ant reason?

Luke Simonds

Here’s a post from earlier this year that explains the reason why I don’t use baitcasters for inshore saltwater fishing anymore:

Thom Ray

Check out C.A. Richardson on Flats Class You tube. He uses a lot of baitcasters. As a ol bass angler I use both , but like Lukes video I seem to have transitioned back to spinning for inshore saltwater. Bait casters first heavier too water plugs.