When most saltwater fishermen think of popping corks we think about that guy next to us in the surf catching fish with live shrimp. Or the guys in the bay using croaker and catching large trout. Most of us don't think artificial lures - but we're mistaken if we don't and could be missing out!
On a recent trip to the home of Midcoast Products, I sat down with Lane and Glynn and learned how popping corks can be very useful when combined with artificial lures. We'll focus on four main areas: Casting Distance, Sound Attraction, Depth Control, and Retrieval Speed, and Kids and Beginners.
Popping corks, as long as they come with added weight, greatly improve casting distance. There is rarely a time when I fish that I wouldn't like to be able to cast further. Reaching beyond the third bar in the surf and reaching that nervous bait that may be just out of reach. Or it could be reaching the trout under the birds from a distance to keep from spooking them.
There are many other situations as well. I like to fish with the wind at my back if at all possible. But if I'm wading or drifting a shoreline and am fanning my casts in different directions trying to find the fish, I'll be casting against the wind or at least perpendicular to it. Utilizing a popping cork when drift fishing from a boat allows you to reach just a little further away and keep from spooking the fish.
That pop from the concave top of a cork mimics the sound of a fish's mouth at or near the surface inhaling a shrimp or baitfish. Then there are the clicks made by the plastic or brass beads found on many corks. These beads produce the clicking sound a shrimp makes when it flicks its tail when fleeing from a predator.
This reminds me of using antlers to rattle in whitetails. That buck hears the rattling and comes running, thinking that a couple of other bucks are fighting over a doe. Well, that's the same idea here. A trout or redfish hear those pops and clicks and comes to swimming, thinking that there's bait in the area and other fish are enjoying the feast.
The ability to shorten or lengthen your leader connection from the cork to the artificial lets you control the depth you'll be fishing, and slowly work the lure at that depth. A drifting shell comes to mind here. Keeping that lure in the strike zone longer can only help but increase your chances of success.
Kids and Beginners
Let's face it, working a saltwater lure effectively takes practice, lots of it, and increasing the chances for success of beginning fishermen and kids will enhance their enjoyment. One of the ways I'll introduce my kids to saltwater fishing will be utilizing a popping cork with some type of shrimp imitation underneath.
They can reel it as fast or slow as they want, and it won't snag the bottom if it's not being worked quickly. And for beginners, popping corks are an effective way to start fishing with lures.
Choosing and Rigging a Popping Cork
There are lots of choices out there. Corks come in lots of colors, sizes, and configurations.
For casting distance, the heavier the better. A unique innovation that increases casting distance even further is the set-up of the Outcast, Inticer, Mojo, and Lil Moe offerings from Midcoast Products. These corks are made to tie the mainline and leader both to the swivel at the top of the cork.
The leader in the section of line from the cork to the lure. They recommend 18 to 24 inches of leader. Fluorocarbon line works best for this leader material. The main advantage to fluorocarbon is that it is almost invisible underwater and it's tougher than monofilament.
Tying both to the top is a break in tradition and probably doesn't make sense when you look at the cork. But hundreds of satisfied customers and thousands of cork sales later, the Midcoast guys are changing minds. They just don't tangle, and the cork acts as a projectile when cast while the lure trails behind.
The traditional setup means you tie your mainline to the top and the leader to the bottom. This won't cast as far but works just as well as the Midcoast corks mentioned above. The main difference is in the action of the lure.
The tie-on-top configuration keeps the lure closer to the surface and allows for a little more freedom of movement. The traditional setup keeps the lure a little deeper and restricts the movement slightly.
Corks come in all different shapes, and the ones that don't have the cupped top will still cause a surface commotion but you won't get that "pop". And if there is less drag you'll be able to work the lure more quickly.
Using Corks with Soft Plastics
Using a cork doesn’t change the action of soft plastic but it slows it down a bit. The tie on top enhances the bait action as it allows it to dart and flutter. The tie at the bottom keeps the bait lower in the water column and doesn’t allow as much action. That being said, the best way to combine the sound attraction of corks and the action of soft plastic is to fish them unweighted.
Hooking the soft plastic up through the nose or Texas Rigging it on an unweighted hook are the best options. The best hooks to use through the nose are octopus hooks. Make sure you hook them up through so the point is on top.
Tips for Using Corks
Pop them at least every 10 seconds. This is especially important when using live bait, but important for artificials as well. This keeps the leader from tangling around the cork wire. This will bend the cork wire if a fish hits it and hinders the action of the bait or soft plastic.
In conclusion, popping corks can be an effective weapon in the hands of veteran lure fisherman, beginners, and kids alike. When you need some extra distance or if you think a little noise would help then tie one on.
You'll be joining the ranks of bait fishermen who have been using them with great success for decades, while still experiencing the thrill of fooling fish with an artificial lure.
For more information on Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament vs. Braided Fishing Line, head to the Fishing Line page.
For more information on Midcoast Products, head to the Texas Manufacturers page.
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