Popper lures are some of the most productive and exciting fishing lures an angler can have in their tackle arsenal today. These unique lures are quite unlike any other style of fishing lure in that they are made to cause a sizable splash on the water’s surface and grab the attention of any nearby fish. Popper lures are mostly made to specifically target bass species, but they are catching a huge variety of saltwater and freshwater game fish species.
There are countless different varieties of popper lures that you can choose from in today’s fishing industry from many of the best overall brands in the business. These poppers also vary in size, coloration, and other factors that make them highly effective and extremely fun to use. There are also no wrong ways to use a popper lure and you can take a number of different approaches to retrieving the lure.
If you’re looking to get some new popper lures for your tackle box, read on. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about fishing with popper lures and we’ll also provide you with our selection of the 10 best popper lures on the market today.
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Summary – Best Popper Lures
- 2 What is a Popper Lure?
- 3 Different Styles of Poppers
- 4 How to Use a Popper
- 5 Popper Lures Buyer’s Guide
- 6 10 Best Popper Lures
- 6.1 1. Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure
- 6.2 2. Booyah Prank Topwater Popper
- 6.3 3. Yo-Zuri 3D Popper Floating
- 6.4 4. Arbogast Hula Popper
- 6.5 5. Arbogast Jitterbug
- 6.6 6. Rebel Lures Pop-R
- 6.7 7. Rapala X-Rap Pop 07
- 6.8 8. Heddon Chug’N Spook Popper
- 6.9 9. 6th Sense Splashback 70 Popper
- 6.10 10. Yo-Zuri 3DR Popper
Quick Summary – Best Popper Lures
What is a Popper Lure?
The earliest fishing lures ever made date back hundreds of years, but poppers are a bit more recent as they first came onto the scene just a few decades ago. A popper has a distinctive cylindrical body with a cup-shaped tip that is designed to trap air bubbles as it is pulled through the water.
This design then causes the bait to produce an unmistakable ‘pop’ sound that can be accurately described as making a ‘kerplunk’ or ‘bloop’ sound. There are also some types of poppers known as ‘jitterbugs’ that feature a metal implement that is designed to create this telltale ‘bloop’ sound with bubbles. This sound, combined with the overall appearance and movement of the lure, is largely responsible for causing fish to feel inclined to investigate and even strike at the lure.
Poppers can come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Each of these styles and sizes of lures have their own specific purpose and use and if you thoroughly understand when and how to use them, it will greatly improve your overall performance on the water and lead to more and bigger fish.
These lures are specially designed to have abundant amounts of buoyancy, which helps them stay at or very close to the surface at all times. The fact that popper lures work on the surface means you can effectively use them to catch fish at virtually any time of the day or night.
Different Styles of Poppers
There are a few different styles of popper lures that can be categorized into three basic categories. Each of these categories has their own special uses and understanding just what each one is capable of will go a long way in making sure you’re using them in the right time and place.
One of the most common types of popper lures is known as ‘spitters.’ These simply feature the concave mouth opening that is bowl-shaped and designed to produce the telltale ‘pop’ sound and effect as it is pulled through the water.
One small difference with spitters is that the mouth section is slightly uneven, which helps to produce a larger splash that is thrown outward in front of the lure. This small splash helps to grab the attention of nearby fish, as well as make the lure look like a frog or even a small bait fish that’s attempting to make its way through the water to the safety of structure or the shoreline.
These lures are known as spitters because it looks like they are literally ‘spitting’ water out of their mouths into the water in front of them. These spitter poppers typically work very well at any time when fish are biting topwater lures. You really can’t go wrong throwing a spitter during the early morning, late evening, or throughout the darkness at night.
Another kind of popper lures are known as ‘chuggers.’ These are the more traditional types of lures that produce an unmistakable ‘pop’ sound as it is twitched across the water’s surface back to your position. Chuggers have a much more even mouth design that is made to produce a more distinctive ‘bloop’ sound that is louder and disperses more water as it is being retrieved.
The mouth is actually designed in such a way that it creates a large bubble that forms over the top of the lure itself and will burst, which produces a louder, more noticeable sound. This bigger bubble and splash are made to appear much more similar to an actual frog or other creature that is making its way across the surface.
There are a few types of poppers that fall into this category and they are one of the most exciting types of lures to use as fish will aggressively strike at them in an instant.
The third and final type of popper is truly a distinctive design that is really unlike any other kind of lure in the fishing industry. The jitterbug is known as one of the most effective topwater lures, but it can technically be classified as a popper since its overall operation is very similar to a spitter and a chugger style lure.
A jitterbug is designed very similar to other styles of poppers, but features a specialized metal plate on the front of the nose that is made to give the lure that same classic ‘pop’ ability that chugges and spitters have. Jitterbugs are designed to have a much more sharp popping sound that is more like a ‘click’ than anything else. This sounds very similar to a large insect kicking its legs back and forth as it makes its way through the water.
Jitterbugs can be very effective during the summer months when certain types of bugs are known to be out in abundant numbers. In the southern United States, june bugs are one of the most commonly-found large insects that a jitterbug will resemble. It is this similar appearance, as well as the unique clicking and popping sound and motion that helps to draw fish in for a closer look, or to entice them to bite the lure.
How to Use a Popper
One of the best things about fishing with a popper lure is that they are among the easiest lures to use. They are excellent lures for young anglers or novice fishermen or women to start out with since they allow you to see the lure at all times. Since you have the ability to see the popper as you retrieve it through the water, this makes it much easier to avoid being snagged on brush, limbs, or any other type of structure along the way.
To properly fish with a popper, you’ll simply need to throw it out to the specific location where you expect to have the best opportunity to catch fish. It’s usually a good idea to throw the lure close to some type of structure or cover where fish are likely to hide, but not too close so you can avoid being snagged.
When the lure hits the water, you can let it sit for a few seconds before making the first move in your retrieve. In many cases, it’s better to allow the lure to sit for several seconds after you’ve cast it into the water. This will allow any nearby fish time to adjust to the lure and move in towards it.
Once you’re ready to make your retrieve, you’ll simply need to reel in the slack in the line back onto your reel and slightly twitch or pop your rod tip back towards you in order to make the lure perform its telltale ‘pop’ that helps to attract fish. You’ll never want to use the reel to bring the lure closer to your position.
You’ll basically be using your rod tip to bring the lure back to your position instead of reeling the popper in like you would any other type of lure. Always rely on the twitching or popping motion to close the gap between your lure and your position. You’ll only be using the reel to take up the excess line as you twitch the rod top back toward you .
Retrieving the popper is a delicate process that can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s better to take it slow and give the lure plenty of time in between ‘pops’ in order to maximize your chances of catching fish.
There are endless amounts of cadences or rhythms that you can use to retrieve your popper lure. When the fish are more active and are likely to be feeding and chasing after their prey, you can try using a faster retrieve. You should also vary the rate at which you twitch the lure in an effort to gauge what type of cadence the fish would be most attracted to.
The best method for using any popper lure is the classic ‘pop, pop, sit’ method. This involves making two distinct twitch’ motions with your rod tip before letting the lure sit motionless as you slowly reel in the excess line. You can choose just how much time to allow before the next ‘pop, pop, sit’ sequence. Sometimes, it’s better to allow as much as 30 seconds or more in between sequences.
Popper Lures Buyer’s Guide
Like any other lure in the fishing industry, there are a few specific things you’ll want to pay close attention to when shopping for a good popper lure. Some of the following characteristics should be taken into consideration before making your next purchase.
As we’ve already noted, you will want to make sure you’re getting the right kind of popper lure before making your purchase. Select your lure based on what the fish in your chosen body of water are more likely to bite. In any case, you still want to abide by the classic ‘match the hatch’ rule of thumb.
Popper lures that look more like minnows or small bait fish will be best for late spring and early summer when fish will still be looking to feed on small bait fish. However, chugger lures such as a Hula Popper will likely be a better choice once the heat of the summer sets in and frogs become more active on lakes and rivers.
Lastly, jitterbugs are best suited for being used during the dog days of summer when fish are roaming around just after daybreak or right before sundown. At these times during July through September, fish will be looking for large insects that might fall into the water. The jitterbug very closely resembles a jitterbug and can entice fish to bite when other poppers might not work.
Pay close attention to the size of the popper lure you’re looking to purchase. If you don’t have a heavy rod and reel that are capable of handling a larger popper, you might want to go with a smaller option that is more suitable for your setup. It’s a good idea to have a rod that’s medium power and moderate action that’s also no more than 7’6” in length. This will ensure that your rod is stiff enough to allow you to control the lure at all times.
Color is another factor you should pay close attention to when purchasing your next popper. Like other lures, you’ll need to go with something bright and possibly fluorescent if you’re fishing in muddy or darker waters. If you’re planning to fish in a body of water that’s exceptionally clear, go for a lure that offers more natural colors.
Many of the top brands on the market today are producing poppers that feature very realistic color patterns that look much like most bait fish or other creatures that fish tend to go after throughout the summer months. Lastly, if you’re fishing at night, you’ll want to go with a black colored lure since the fish will be able to detect it easier in the darkness due to the bold outlines of the body.
10 Best Popper Lures
1. Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure
Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Megabass has made significant strides in recent years when it comes to their topwater plugs. The company is well-known for its attention to detail and the poppers that it currently produces prove it. The Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure is our top choice, but there are a few other poppers that could give this model a run for its money in terms of overall effectiveness.
The Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure comes in a dozen different color pattern options that are all extremely detailed. This means you can effectively fish in muddy or clear water and maximize your chances of success in both situations. Each of the Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lures are 3.25” in length and have a specialized hard-carved design by legendary Japanese bass lure maker Yuki Ito.
This particular lure is geared toward catching larger fish since it is slightly bigger than the Megabass Pop-X. The lure’s unique gill structure actually takes in water and releases it through another chamber that creates small bubbles along the surface, which are typically a dead giveaway to large bass that a fish is struggling and can be a very easy meal. The water travels into the gills and through the lure’s body where it is released on the side chambers, making it appear to have a splashing and chugging action instead of merely skipping across the surface like some other poppers are designed to.
When the lure is paused during the retrieve, the water continually drains out and causes the lure’s head to slowly rise as it fills with air, making it look like a bait fish that’s raising its head to get a better look at what’s in front of it, or feeding on small creatures along the water surface. These impressive design elements make the Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure our clear-cut choice for the best popper lure on the market today.
2. Booyah Prank Topwater Popper
Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Lipped popper can be worked on top as a popper that spits water thanks to a cupped and shaved mouth
- Doubles as a shallow-running crankbait where the shaved back helps impart a serious swimming action
- Feather-dressed treble adds the final touch to entice strikes
Booyah burst onto the fishing scene several years ago when professional anglers began to take notice of their spinnerbaits. Since then the company has branched out to design other lures that function extremely well in a range of different environments. The Booyah Prank is one of the first of its kind—a popper that doubles as a shallow diving crankbait thanks to a small lip on the front. This lure works exceptionally well and can be the ticket to catching fish that are not apt to pass up an easy meal trying to escape into nearby cover.
This option comes in 7 different colors that let you get the one that’s ideal for the location and time of year you plan to fish. You can easily work this lure along the top of the water as a popper and crank it down a few feet below the surface for a spell to give fish the impression that they are looking at an actual bait fish that’s slowly making its way along the water.
The Booyah Prank offers a feathered tail that helps look more like an actual fish’s tail fluttering through the water as you retrieve it. It’s fitted with two treble hooks that are either #4 or #6 size depending on the size lure you choose. You can purchase the Booyah Prank in a 2.3” or 2.75” version. This lure’s versatility and outstanding design make it one of the most interesting poppers you’ll find in the fishing industry today.
3. Yo-Zuri 3D Popper Floating
Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Traditional topwater popper with wide cupped mouth
- Internal 3D prism finish
- Saltwater grade hooks and split rings
Yo-Zuri has made quite a name for themselves over the years by creating some of the most reliable popper lures money can buy. Everyone from professional anglers to weekend warriors have discovered the fish-catching prowess of these incredible lures and that’s why we have the Yo-Zuri 3D Popper as our No. 3 choice on our list.
The Yo-Zuri 3D Popper comes in three distinct color options that are ideal for just about any body of water throughout the year. What really attracts fish to take a closer look at this lure is the overall design. It features a larger mouth that is capable of producing a much larger spitting motion, which throws more water out in front of the lure and creates an overall bigger splash when it is slowly worked along the surface.
The lure is made to have ideal balance so that you can actually cast it farther than you can most other types of popper lures that are typically heavier toward the head of the lure than its rear. These lures are known to catch anything from redfish to striped bass and professional anglers often have several in their tackle box for days when fish are feeding on topwater bait. The lure is made with a durable polycarbonate body that’s 3.5” long, which is great for attracting bites from fish of all sizes.
4. Arbogast Hula Popper
Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Same 1948 shape as the original, same classic popping action, and most importantly you still get the...
- Upgraded hook hangers to allow full movement of the treble hooks
- Rear feather treble for more strikes
The Arbogast Hula Popper is a true classic that has been proven to catch fish in almost any type of environment when topwater lures are what they crave. This lure is absolutely perfect in lakes that have an abundant number of frogs that fish are often looking to target when the weather heats up and the bait fish are less prevalent. The Hula Popper comes in a large and small version that range from 1.25” to 2.25” in length, which is the ideal size for a lure of this design.
The Arbogast Hula Popper is a great choice for fishing in and around grass beds and other areas where fish are known to lie in wait for an unsuspecting frog to make its way through the water’s surface. The long skirt on the tail end of this lure helps to look more like a pair of legs kicking through the water as you gradually pop it at your own chosen pace.
The large splash left behind by the Hula Popper is what has managed to entice fish to bite for decades.
5. Arbogast Jitterbug
Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Jitterbug is proven its power to ignite explosive strikes on topwater fish
- Placed at precisely the correct angle it produces a lout, rhythmic, surface-busting sound proven to...
- Arbogast Jitterbug is a legendary top water lure with a sound millions of anglers can immediately...
Another undeniable classic from the Arbogast brand is the Jitterbug. This is simply a must-have lure for any angler as you’ll quickly be able to get the hang of using it and realize that it is a fish-catching machine during the water summer months when fish are looking toward the surface for their next meal.
The Arbogast Jitterbug has a unique design that gives this lure the trademarked ‘walking the dog’ appearance as it skis back and forth when popped at just the right level of force. The Jitterbug comes in a 2.5” inch size that is heavy enough to be thrown out to a considerable distance. You can purchase this lure in either a jointed version, or plug that both feature two treble hooks in the front and back.
It doesn’t take much effort to generate a large splash using the Arbogast Jitterbug and this lure can be extremely effective at dawn and dusk.
6. Rebel Lures Pop-R
Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Has three of the most productive Pop-Rs in the best bass catching color patterns mean more topwater...
- The Rebel Pop-R has been the standard by which all topwater poppers/chuggers have been judged for...
- Legendary topwater bait that’s won hundreds of thousands of dollars for anglers in bass...
Another lure that has earned its place among the topwater hall of fame for most anglers is the Rebel Lures Pop-R. This simple and effective lure has been around for decades and has been responsible for catching numerous trophy fish when topwater action is hot. The Pop-R comes in at least 15 different color pattern options that let you select the one that’s just right so you can more easily match the hatch where you’re fishing.
The original design hasn’t changed in all the years this lure has been produced as it is one of the most effective spitter poppers in existence. The 2.5” inch body is made with a special bead inside that produces a distinct rattling noise when the lure is worked across the water’s surface. The slightly altered concave mouth of the Rebel Lures Pop-R is what gives it the classic pop that is unmistakable to the ear of any skilled angler.
Anglers can use this lure at their own pace, both fast or slow to catch monster fish throughout the warm-weather months of spring into the fall. The feathered tail portion help give this lure just enough action so that it mimics what a fleeing bait fish might look like from the depths below.
7. Rapala X-Rap Pop 07
Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Deep cupped lip
- Loud pop and splash action
- long casting
Rapala has been in the fishing industry longer than most anglers have been alive and the brand continually works to perfect their lures. The Rapala X-Rap Pop 07 is a prime example of outstanding design and coloration that works to entice larger fish to strike at this lure. The X-Rap is known for producing a much larger pop than most other popper-style lures and is capable of looking like a much larger bait fish as it is worked across the water’s surface.
The Rapala X-Rap Pop 07 offers a well-balanced body that helps give you a better chance to cast this lure out much farther than other types of poppers like the Rebel Lures version. This lure also features a few similar measures that other brands have incorporated into their designs over the years. The feathered tail is a proven asset and makes the Rapala X-Rap Pop 07 look much like a swimming bait fish moving through the upper water column.
The 2.75” inch body is considered to be ideal for bass and a variety of other species. Rapala has gone to extra lengths with the X-Rap Pop 07, much like the brand often does with its lures, and added holographic eyes and scales to the body that give it a hyper realistic appearance to underwater predatory fish.
8. Heddon Chug’N Spook Popper
Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐
- More water disturbance
- New sound to the Spook family
- One-Knocker rattle
The Heddon lure company has been around for well over a century and many anglers have likely heard of or used their classic style popper, the Heddon Chug’N Spook Popper. This distinct lure has a much smaller mouth design that is much more subtle when it’s worked through the water. This subtlety seems to have a positive effect on getting fish to strike at the lure when other models might be too loud or make too large a splash.
You can order this lure in one of a dozen different color patterns and the Heddon Chug’N Spook Popper’s body is very well-balanced, which allows you to cast it out much farther than most other types of lures. This lure can be purchased in a variety of sizes that are either large or small versions of the same basic lure design.
The lure has a very straightforward design and is often tough to perform the classic walk the dog motion that most anglers can do with other popper models. However, it is highly effective throughout the summer months when topwater lures are the most ideal options available.
9. 6th Sense Splashback 70 Popper
Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐
- Length: 2.75in (70mm)
- Weight: 3/8oz
- Hook Size: #4 (front and back)
The 6th Sense lure company is relatively new to the fishing industry, but the brand has made quite a splash in recent years with its unique and bold lure designs that are clearly made to cause more of a splash than other popper styles. The 6th Sense Splashback 70 Topwater Popper Lure is another solid addition to our list as it features the largest concave mouth design of any other popper style lure.
This means that the 6th Sense Splashback 70 Topwater Popper Lure will cause quite the ruckus when it is worked through the water—especially when it’s retrieved at a rapid pace. The lure also comes in some wicked color patterns that set it apart from the usual popper style lures on the market. It’s clear that this is not your grandfather’s popper lure and 6th Sense has designed a lure that is well-balanced and ideal for targeting larger fish with a bigger splash.
This lure also has excellent side-to-side movement that makes it easy to walk the dog or simply let the popper dart in any direction it wants as you work it through the water’s surface.
10. Yo-Zuri 3DR Popper
Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐
- All new highly realistic finishes that closely imitate baitfish
- The 3DR Popper's big mouth creates a huge splash while its ribbed belly sends out higher-pitched...
- Features a patented Internal Prism Finish and round bend black nickel treble hooks
We would be remiss if we left out the Yo-Zuri 3DR Popper Floating Topwater Popper from our list. This highly detailed popper lure is made with specialized waves or ribs along the bottom of the plug that act to send higher-pitch wave motions through the water, which sound more like an actual fish to any predatory species you’re going after. The 3DR Popper Floating Topwater Popper also comes in a dozen highly-detailed color patterns and designs that look very much like real bait fish.
The feather portion on the rear treble hook is not as rigid as other brands and is capable of looking more like an actual bait fish’s tail as you work this lure through the water. The lure also features an internal 3D Prism finish and design that flashes when you pop the lure across the water. This gives it an extra bit of visibility for times when you might be fishing in muddy water with low visibility. It’s been described as one of the most realistic popper lures on the market and is an easy addition to our list.
Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API