Among the oldest, simplest and still most effective techniques for catching many species, a popping cork rig essentially consists of a float holding up a natural or artificial enticement.
“A popping cork rig is a great way to locate feeding speckled trout,” advised Mike Gallo of Angling Adventures of Louisiana, (985-781-7811, www.AAofLA.com) from Slidell, La. “It can really cover a lot of water and is very effective. I also use a popping cork to catch redfish.”
Some corks somewhat resemble old topwater poppers. When jerked, the concave top splashes the surface, simulating a fish attacking prey. Anglers can also use round or oblong corks that slide along a wire to create the same surface commotion.
Anglers can attach a float directly to the line about 18 to 36 inches above a hook. Some anglers tie on a swivel to keep the cork from sliding too far and add a fluorocarbon leader.
For extra casting heft, place a weight between the swivel and cork or between the cork and hook. Some companies sell complete pre-rigged packages.
With a popping-cork rig, anglers can fish various baits, but most people choose shrimp.
Hook a live shrimp under the horn or through the tail. Set the cork to suspend a bait just above the bottom so it floats freely and cast it to a likely spot. Let it sit a few moments. Then, jerk the rod so the cork pops the surface.
Popping corks work effectively for drifting baits over reefs, around points or along shorelines. Toss then so that the prevailing wind or tidal flow carries the bait across the honey hole. During a falling tide, cast corks up any small tributary so the current carries the bait naturally downstream.
Florida Cork Specs
Anglers can also fish jigs, flies or other artificial temptations including plastic shrimp. When spooked, a live shrimp flicks its tail to escape and usually rises to the surface. When an angler pops a cork, a plastic shrimp jumps up and then sinks. Fish hear the commotion and see the enticement. If a fish strikes a lure, but misses, another might grab it.
“I use live shrimp or soft plastics under popping corks,” Gallo explained. “I pop my cork every 10 to 15 seconds. Sometimes, I’ll pop it twice and then wait 10 to 15 seconds to pop it again. Some people say it’s a ‘primitive’ way to catch fish, but I say it’s a productive way!”