April 30, 2014 by Scott Canterbury
Pop the Top for Springtime Bass
Walking baits have their time and place, but I don't think you can beat a popper at this time of the year, when the spawn is going full-bore in a lot of lakes. When bass are bedding or have just finished, working a popper over their heads is the best way to get bit. It's a slower presentation and good for situations where you're casting at a target such as under a dock. The best cadence on the retrieve depends on what the fish want that day, and it will vary. Rule of thumb: if you're going 20 minutes or so between bites, and you know the fish are there, speed up or slow down and see what kind of difference that makes. My favorite poppers are the old Rebel Pop-R P-70 or the Jackall SK-Pop Grande, which is a smaller bait. I fish the heavier Pop-R where more precise casts are needed, and I rig it on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-action rod with 20-pound-test monofilament. For the Jackal SK-Pop, I'll go with a 6-foot, 9-inch or 7-foot rod and 14-pound-test because chances are I'm going to sling it way out there along riprap banks or open flats. When the fish get more active and hungry later on in the spring, I'll switch to walking baits. There are a lot of good ones, but a personal favorite is the Jackal Mud Sucker because it walks and spits water at the same time. In this case I'll rig it on a medium-heavy rod and a reel with 50-pound-test braid. I also add a 12- to 16-inch leader of 20-pound-test monofilament because the braid tends to tangle itself if you don't. You can set the hook better over longer distances with braid, and also move the bait easier. Here again, sometimes you can get the lure going in a fast walk, or slow it down. The fish will let you know. The ideal scenario is to cover a lot of water with a fairly fast retrieve, but sometimes that doesn't work. I'd rather fish slower and get bit than fish faster and not get bit.