High performance popper fishing

Thread starter #1
My two favorite baits for topwater bass fishing are a buzzbait and a popper. I have made a few posts showing how well they have been working for me, even from the bank. Year after year, I use these baits almost year round with the exception of the dead of winter, and year after year as soon as the water temps reach the low 50s, they produce dozens of fish all season long on every river, pond, lake or reservoir I fish. Today, I will break down which poppers are the best ones are, why, and show pictures. I've used just about every popular popper from just about every popular manufacturer and I've definitely found favorites.

COLORS: First of all, the Japanese win when it comes to jerkbaits and topwater. The premium hardware and colors are top notch. Some argue color makes no difference in topwater but many times it has personally for me, even though the color spectrum should be more limited for these baits. I stick with white, black, yellow, and Chartreuse for topwater and very rarely a clear bait. Clear baits with no paint at all catch more fish when they're schooling and extremely finicky. Adding a red treble hook to the front of the bait gives them a target to aim for and gives you a better chance at landing the fish being that it's on the front hook. It pays to have a color that matches the available forage in the water. A bluegill, shad, and frog pattern are usually enough to get by. Bone, white, and black are also popular colors.

SOUND: So what makes my $23 Rico popper better than my $5 rebel pop r? The key is Sound! The pop r makes that famous blooping sound. But that's about it. The Rico and other poppers rattle, pop, bloop and gurgle and they all sound just a little different. You can tell the distinct "bloop" of a pop r but if you were blindfolded and heard a Rico you would swear it was a bluegill on the surface. There's a difference there that really comes into play especially on pressured bass.

ACTION: Another key thing is Action of the bait. The expensive poppers do more than just pop. They pop, skitter, spit water, walk, bloop, gurgle, rattle, chug, and some even dive and float back up if you want them to!

COVER: Placement of the bait is another key element for this lure. Poppers stay in the strike zone longer than almost any other topwater technique. Aim for targets such as dock posts, riprap banks, fallen trees, emergent grass lines and other likely areas. These particular baits work better even in these particular areas and small spaces. I will continue on with the next part of this thread starting with the standard rebel pop r
 
Thread starter #2
Here is your standard rebel pop r, shown with upgraded hooks. The stock hooks are the cheap bronze kind made by vmc. They easily bend and the split rings attaching the hooks are of the same quality. Despite the hardware, the pop r has proven to be a great topwater lure, but it has some cons against it.

Pros: cheap, reliable, decent color selection, great blooping and popping sound and action

Cons: doesn't walk as well as higher priced lures of the same class, doesn't have as good a finish as higher priced lures, terrible hardware out of the box, kind of a one trick pony in that it pretty much only pops unless you get the largest size
 

Attachments

Thread starter #3
Here's where things get interesting. You have the basic popping style lure, then you have slightly more refined baits such as strike king's kvd pop or storm's Arashi pop. But the best of the best I have come across are here.
From top to bottom: Lobina RICO, Don iovino Splash it, Yellow Magic Japanese popper, Megabass PopMax
 

Attachments

For high end the popmax is hard to beat, I don't care for the pop x as much, megabass prices are hard to swallow but they're worth it, especially when they're on sale. My favorite cheaper popper is the Poppin image. I like the arashi popper too but I wish it came in a bullfrog color scheme.
 

Cmp1

Senior Member
Great info, I've got a Yamamoto pop r, I like, lots of action and like you said different from a pop r,,,,
 
The best one for the money was the Zell Rowland Pop R. I bought a number of them when they were produced and hate to lose one. Have caught a lot and many big ones on them.
 

Lukikus2

Senior Member
Good stuff.

But I might add. As far as poppers the size of the popper and line size makes a big difference. Play around with different diameter lines for different lures. It does make a difference. Also wether the line you are using is stiff or limp. Also adding a larger treble on the back will make some pop better or make it sit so far back it will not pop very well.

I love fishing buzzbaits also and they to can be tuned. Sometimes bending the blade back far enough to where it ticks the arm while retrieving will absolutely drive the bass crazy at times. Diameter of line, how fast you can get it on top and being able to retrieve the bait slower all makes a difference also.
 
Thread starter #9
I will upload pictures of these other baits and go on to explain why and how these poppers in particular excel over the standard baits of the same category and then detail the pros, cons and prices of each one to make things more clear.
 
Thread starter #10
Lobina Rico: An improved version of the classic rebel pop r when they were first produced. The story is Rick Clunn had a client who fished a pop r faster than he had ever seen instead of doing the standard pops with long pauses that poppers are traditionally fished with. Before he could barely get the words out of his mouth to the client that he was fishing the bait wrong, a 5 pounder ate it and Clunn bought just about every pop r out there and used that same technique to win tournaments and events and he shared the success only with Zell Rowland and his brother and told them both he would never forgive either of them if they told the secret bait. The pop r went out of production and Zell Rowland won the bassmaster open on lake Chickamauga in Tennessee and spilled the beans and told everyone he won it with a classic pop r so rebel started production again but with a new mold, and this is where the Zell pop, and the Zell Rowland signature pop r came from. Rick Clunn still hasn't forgiven him for this, but he met someone from lobina lures and a Japanese lure designer who told him he could make it even better, and he DID. So now we have the Rico popper and the larger Rio Rico, my preferred version.

Pros: GREAT popping or spitting action. Can be popped several times in a row, even for the entire retrieve. Great finishes that hold up good over time. 3D eyes instead of painted. Good split rings, and super sticky sharp Japanese hooks stock out of the box and probably the best feathered treble hook you'll ever see on any bait. Can be worked fast as you want without blowing out. Great casting distance and incredible sound! Even at long distance way out in the middle of the lake, you still hear this bait!

Cons: although incredibly sharp, the hook points occasionally roll so after the first dozen fish you need a hook sharpener or new hooks. It does walk, but not as easy to get it to walk as other high end poppers. You really have to have a slack line to get this thing to go side to side.

Yellow Magic Japanese Popper:
Pros: great finishes, great hardware, one of the best spitting poppers, great hooks, nice rattle on the inside.

Cons: can be worked fast, but will blow out. Difficult to walk, but it does walk. Better spitting than loud popping action. Average casting distance.

Don Iovino Splash It:

Pros: Paint holds up, good split rings, can be worked fast or slow, dual pitch rattle inside (large and small BBs inside, probably of different materials) spits and pops well. Will walk in the hands of an experienced angler.

Cons: color options aren't as great looking as other baits, the hooks that come stock on it are GARBAGE, I've lost several fish on them and couldn't even hook some even after they hit 4 times in a row before replacing with owner hooks, average casting distance.

Megabass PopMax:

Pros: Easily the best looking with the most beautiful and realistic finishes, long lasting paint jobs although you will get hook rash on it. Easiest walking popper I've ever used, great side to side rolling action when walking, nice lower pitch rattle inside, the bait actually has gills and water comes through the mouth and out the gill chambers creating a bubble trail effect so it's an innovative bait, not just another popper. Pretty good casting distance also.

Cons: light wire hooks out of the box. Although sharp, they'll bend out on you over time. I've also had an eye fall out of the bait but that was after it was mailed to death by 50-60 bass over time using it to 6 and a half pounds and covered in hook rash and teeth marks So do with that information what you will. Overall a great lure though
 

Cmp1

Senior Member
My poppers and Rapala walk baits,,,,Top to bottom,,,,Yamamoto popper,,,,ball bearing,pops and spits great,great action,,,,Pop-R,,,,OK pops,spits better,not much action,,,,Hula popper,,,,pops and spits great,,,,not much action,,,,

Both Rapala's walk fantastic,both ball bearings,,,,never had any luck with them, hard on my back to get them to walk,,,,

I will concentrate on the poppers Wed mng,,,, 5317C775-DA61-43AD-81D6-B4284DD67089.jpeg
 

glynr329

Senior Member
Here's where things get interesting. You have the basic popping style lure, then you have slightly more refined baits such as strike king's kvd pop or storm's Arashi pop. But the best of the best I have come across are here. Thanks for the info.
From top to bottom: Lobina RICO, Don iovino Splash it, Yellow Magic Japanese popper, Megabass PopMax
 
Thread starter #16
Also, I should add that even though the pop r went back into production after Zell Rowland won that tournament and made that bait popular again, it is a different mold and is NOT the same bait it was at the time. The new model has a different mouth shape that makes it difficult to fish in the same way as a Rico for example. It has a bit of a Lower lip and will not pop many times in short order. Zell used to shave the lip and sand it down it fine grit sandpaper and repaint them himself and other pros would pay upwards of $100 a bait for "zell's pop-r" and later on there were Zell Rowland pop R lures produced by rebel to his specifications and later on the Xcalibur Zell Pop. Xcalibur went out of business and sold to Booyah Lures and now the old Zell pop is under the bed name, The Booyah Boss Pop. Which is pretty much the same lure and pretty fair priced also. Another thing regarding the megabass PopMax is that it doesn't pop quickly well either, as it wants to walk too much and will blow out. It's best for slower retrieves.
 
The Poppin image would probably suit you well as it will pop or walk if you fish it fast. I'm going to have to find new fishing holes to start bass fishing more again to justify Rico's especially after going slightly overboard with megabass stuff last year. I did buy a gunfish to try out in the salt water.
 
Also, I should add that even though the pop r went back into production after Zell Rowland won that tournament and made that bait popular again, it is a different mold and is NOT the same bait it was at the time. The new model has a different mouth shape that makes it difficult to fish in the same way as a Rico for example. It has a bit of a Lower lip and will not pop many times in short order. Zell used to shave the lip and sand it down it fine grit sandpaper and repaint them himself and other pros would pay upwards of $100 a bait for "zell's pop-r" and later on there were Zell Rowland pop R lures produced by rebel to his specifications and later on the Xcalibur Zell Pop. Xcalibur went out of business and sold to Booyah Lures and now the old Zell pop is under the bed name, The Booyah Boss Pop. Which is pretty much the same lure and pretty fair priced also. Another thing regarding the megabass PopMax is that it doesn't pop quickly well either, as it wants to walk too much and will blow out. It's best for slower retrieves.
I believe mine were xcalibur
 
Well in a moment of weakness last night I ordered both a Rio Rico and a yellow magic 😂, I also bought a salmo popper off eBay since I like their version of a ratltrap and it arrived today to my disappointment since it doesn't rattle, maybe the action will win me over.
 
Top