Skip to main content

Popping Corks Work When Other Tactics Fail

This old technique will help you locate and catch speckled trout and other inshore species.

Popping Corks Work When Other Tactics Fail

If a fish strikes a lure, but misses, another might grab it. (Shutterstock image)

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, from Slidell, La. “It can really cover a lot of water and is very effective. I also use a popping cork to catch redfish.”

Click for more articles about saltwater fishing

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.

Subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

“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!”

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now