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Top 10 Tips For Successful Popper Fishing

Top 10 Tips For Successful Popper Fishing

When it comes to making the right choices regarding what tackle to take to some of our amazing destinations, we would ideally love to give you the best advice possible, in turn giving you the best chances whilst you are out there.

With most of our popper fishing destinations, there are certain things you need to consider even before getting there. Things like how advanced is the fishing going to be? Do you have the right tackle for the size of fish being targeted? And your general fitness level is it up to standing on a boat all day in hot weather while throwing heavy poppers around? This is very tiring work and then you have to reel the fish in. These things sound basic but can be the difference between a successful or a poor fishing holiday. Go prepared for all scenarios, be prepared to change things and most important and that listens to your guide, these guys fish here all the time and if they say that the fish like it slow, then you should pop slow.

Once you think you have done the groundwork, it’s then the task of looking for a suitable destination that fits your requirements and abilities. The destinations seem endless but with some homework, certain places can be ruled out based upon what you want to get out of your holiday. Below we have listed some of the popper destinations and the species you can catch and we have also given them a score rating of difficulty from 0 being easy and 10 being challenging: (the score rating is made up from several factors from how calm the waters are, how many fish present, how extreme the conditions can get. The scores are not relevant to what we think of the destination)

Mexico

Roosters, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado, Jacks and Barracuda –
Score Rating 2/10

Costa Rica

Roosters, Cubera Snapper, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado and Jacks –
Score rating 2/10

Panama

Roosters, Cubera Snappers, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado and Jacks –
Score rating 4/10

Andaman Islands

GT’s, Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo –
Score rating 6/10

Rodrigues Islands

GT’s and Dogtooth Tuna –
Score rating 6/10

Guinea Bissau

Jacks, Barracuda, Cobia and Ladyfish
Score rating 3/10

Gabon

(Shore popper fishing) Tarpon, Cubera snappers, Senegal Kob, African Threadfin and Jacks
Score rating 8/10


Preparation is the key to success and the more you can prepare before all hell breaks loose, then the more fish you will put in the boat. We have given you some advice below that you will need to consider before making that first cast.

TOP TIPS:

  1. Conditions dictate lure selection
  2. Take time to read the water before casting
  3. Big casts catch more fish
  4. Work your lures slowly and keep your eyes glued to the lure
  5. When you get that bite, always strike it as hard as possible
  6. Always have your harness on
  7. No fiddling with your drag or spool on the first run
  8. Keep tension on the line
  9. Listen to your captain during the fight
  10. Before the trip make sure you hit the gym as a fit lure angler will always catch more fish and be able to cast longer.

Really good surface poppers to take with you are Hammer Head, Craftbait GT2 & 3, Carpenter twin hook, Patriot Design Master Bomb Jr, Heru Cubera. These all make a great surface disturbance and will bring fish up from deeper marks.

Stick baits work best in calmer conditions anything with a lot of flashes that can be worked slowly does the job, stick baits that have the Japanese head dip and roll action are favourites.

When you are fishing open watermarks and there is no visible structure to cast at you must pay attention to your surroundings. This will give you an edge always scan the area for bait, current lines or any area that looks a little different. Your guide will advise on where to cast but they miss things as well.

Longer casts give your lure more time in the water and increase the chances of raising a fish from deep water make sure your gear is in good order and practise if you must beforehand. Things that will help increase distance are; a properly topped up spool, matching your PE to your reel PE10- 20K PE8-18k/14k PE5–10k etc. and sticking to lures that suit your rods casting capabilities.

Big slow pops and slow steady sweeps on stickbaits are the name of the game especially in choppy and rough conditions stay in contact with the lure at all times and watch it like a hawk most hits come from below and behind and it’s rare for a fish to chase a lure down unless it’s a pencil popper or stick bait.

When you have a hit you get one chance to set the hooks so do it properly, strike hard and crank down strike hard again then crank down and then strike again one more time for luck then pump like a maniac make sure you have your harness on ready as having the rod butt in the groin with an angry GT on the end of the line can be distracting. Make sure your drag is set before hand and don’t fiddle with it on the first run it’s too late by that stage and any spike or sudden change in drag pressure from the drag or “palming” the spool can result in line and heart breakage’.

Your guide will be giving instructions during the fight mostly to make sure you are in the best position on the boat to land the fish during the chaos try to keep an ear open to what he’s telling you.

There is a lot more to lure fishing and this is just the start, you will learn during your weeks fishing how different fish respond to different movements on the lure. All fish want something different and will respond very differently to each other, some fish may want slow pops whereas Roosters like it fast so mix it up a little. Never be afraid to ask your guide as they fish these waters a lot more than you would of, so asking people who know is the way forward.


Hopefully some of the above will get you started and then the next step is to decide where and when you want to go! Try picking the correct moon and tide phase for surface fishing. This can and does make a big difference in all fishing practises especially when targeting predator species. For many years the team at Sportquest Holidays have built great knowledge in selecting the correct times to travel targeting certain species, so why not seal some advice before parting with your hard earnt money. We are here to help and it is important that we send you at the correct times rather than filling empty spaces, we would rather you not go if it means travelling at an unfavoured time.

As mentioned in the post, we have given some destinations score ratings, this doesn’t reflect on the enjoyment of the holiday, it is there to give you some idea on how much skill is needed. Some places the fishing is hard work and you could cast 50 times before getting that strike whereas other places there are more fish but smaller fish and you only have to cast a couple of times before connecting to a fish. Hopefully, it may give you some help in deciding on your next popper fishing holiday.

Most of the popper fishing holidays are based on either groups of two or more, but if you find yourself having to travel alone then we can accommodate you. We have a couple of options for you to consider, either joining one of our many hosted popper trips or we set aside what we call ‘Single Angler Weeks’ where we will put together a group of like minded anglers all with the same interests. All our Hosted popper trips can be found HERE.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Sportquest team then please call us on 01603 407596. Alternatively, you can view all our popper destinations HERE.

Tight lines,

Paul Stevens

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