How to Use Surface Poppers

Surface poppers are small lures that feature a cupped or curved face on the front of their body. They are used with spinning-reel tackle and are very effective for catching fish that feed on or near the water’s surfac, such as trout, bass, and pan fish.

Popper can be a lot of fun. Since fish are being drawn by the lure to the surface, you can watch them swim right up to the hook and make their strike. This brings anglers a lot closer to the action than other fishing techniques like trolling.

Fishing Techniques for Popper Lures

Poppers are great learning lures for beginner anglers, especially for bass fishing since they require no special strike detection to get a bite. But there are a few things worth keeping in mind when fishing with a popper in order to maximize your chances of a catch.

The basic method is to cast the popper out and let it float on the surface, then jerk on your rod. When the lure comes to rest, reel in some of your line, then jerk again, and repeat until you’ve retrieve the whole line. Each time you jerk on the rod, you should wait until all the ripples created by that movement disappear before you pull on it again.

Poppers are topwater lures, so pay attention to the wind and surface of the water and use them to determine how fast you should be fishing the lure. If conditions are windy and choppy, you should retrieve the popper quickly. If the surface has only a light ripple or even a flat calm, experiment a little to find the best speed to find a bite. Start with a medium-fast retrieve, and then gradually make it slower and slower until the fish begin to show interest.

And remember that poppers do their best work in low light conditions. Try using them during overcast days, at night, in the early morning, or in the late afternoon, especially during the summer.

The basic steps of using a surface popper are as follows:

  • Pick the size and color of popper that works best for your target fish. Like most lures, poppers come in quite a variety, so make sure you know which is preferred by the species your after.
  • Rig the popper so that it floats on the water’s surface.
  • Cast your popper and let it drift for a moment in your target area.
  • Slowly retrieve your line in small increments, while also snapping the tip of the your rod to make the lure “pop” across the water. This movement imitates prey like frogs, small fish, or insects to get the fish interested.
  • When a fish strikes, don’t set the hook right away. First let the popper get yanked under, and then set your hook and reel it in. This will give you a much better chance of actually landing the fish.

Types of Poppers

The two types of poppers are known as Chugger and Spitters. They look very similar, but they each create a different type of noise and commotion on the surface of the water to attract different types of fish. Depending on your target fish, a chugger will work better than a spitter, or the other way around.


These lures have a symmetrical shape that produce the classic “pop.” When you jerk them forward, they plow under the surface and gather a bubble of water over the dome of the bait. When your jerk stops and this bubble bursts, it results in a “pop” that sounds a lot like a falling water droplet. It also generates a round ripple that radiates out form the bait when it stills.


Spitters lack the symmetry of chuggers. The top edge of the cupped side sticks out more than the bottom edge. Instead of creating a round bubble of water, this lure “spits” the water out in front of itself when it is jerked. This makes a much different sound that is softer than the “pop” of a chugger.