Choose the Right Popping Cork

Find out which popping corks the experts recommend.

Popping corks
Popping corks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Jon Whittle

There are a lot of options and a lot of opinions. We asked five guides in five areas, and they all touted a different clacker.

Capt. Greg Hildreth, St. Simons Island, GA

“I like the floats that Travis Harper is making, like the Harper’s Super Striker. I love them for our style of fishing on the Georgia coast [a location with big tides] because you can vary your depth like a slip-float rig, and you can still pop it like a popping float. The tube that you thread the line into is big enough so you don’t have to fight to push the line through. Travis makes them in bright orange, pink and yellow. When I use them on a charter, I put out different colors so I can tell who’s doing what. But if I had to choose, I’d say orange is my favorite.”

Capt. William Toney, Homosassa, FL

“I prefer using D.O.A. corks. I like the large oval cork because of its deeper chug or pop in the water, but there are some calm days that the smaller cigar cork works better. The more chop, the better the oval cork works. Trout will travel to the pop thinking it’s another trout feeding on the surface. Orange is my favorite color or red; but in my area, orange seems to work best. They also work well when targeting tripletail next to crab-trap buoys.”

Capt. Derek York, Galveston, TX

“I’ve been using the Evolution popping cork from Midcoast Products for the past 10-plus years. In my opinion, it is the most versatile for the type of fishing we do here on the upper Texas coast. The casting distance, great popping sound, and the ability to attach your leader to the top or bottom of the rig make it ideal. Attach the leader to the top to farther your casting distance when needed. My color of choice is the black-bodied cork with hot-pink top. It’s super-easy to see from the surface but not as noticeable from below when fishing stationary for sheepsheads and other structure-oriented fish. The cupped face really stirs up the surface. Since the water here is normally off-color, I’m usually working it for a louder sound.”

Capt. Abie Raymond, Miami, FL

“For trout fishing, I prefer the Cajun Thunder 3-inch fluorescent-orange slender corks because they have out-fished the others for 25 years in my personal experience. I can only theorize that the slender shape and bead rattle emulate a finger mullet or pilchard being attacked by other trout.”

Capt. Sonny Schindler, Bay St. Louis, MS

“Hands-down, I prefer the Boat Monkey popping cork. The cupped face seems to make a louder ka-chug when it’s popped. I’ve been using them for well over 10 years. They’re the toughest, farthest-casting corks with the loudest pop I’ve ever used. I prefer bright orange or bright pink. The yellow color is hard to see when we’re fishing into the sun. And the green sometimes is difficult to see against our marsh grass. Sometimes they work too good. The redfish will actually inhale them. But the Boat Monkey’s slogan is ‘Takes a whacking and keeps on clacking.’”

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