Ranking the 10 Best Popper Lures for Bass

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Written By Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler with more than 20 years of fishing experience and a writer whose work has been featured in magazines for over a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States. He also fishes for trout in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.

REVIEWED BY FINN MATTHEWS

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The best popper lures are available in a wide range of bright colors, between 3 to 4 inches in length, and have two #4 size treble hooks.

The MegaBass Popmax is my top choice because of its suitability for clear and muddy water. It features a unique gill structure that make its action more lifelike. It is ideal for anglers looking to target larger sized bass.

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 target bass species but also catch many saltwater and freshwater game fish species. 

You can choose from countless varieties of popper lures in today’s fishing industry from many of the best overall brands. These poppers also vary in size, coloration, and other factors, making them highly effective and extremely fun. There are also no wrong ways to use a popper lure, and you can take several different approaches to retrieve the lure. 

1. Megabass PopMax – Best Popper Lure for Bass

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 my 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 has a dozen 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 lure is geared toward catching larger fish since it is slightly bigger than the Megabass Pop-X. The lure’s unique gill structure takes in water. It 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. 

The water continually drains out when the lure is paused during the retrieve. It causes the lure’s head to slowly rise as it fills with air, making it look like a bait fish raising its head to get a better look at what’s in front of it or feeding on small creatures along the water’s surface. These impressive design elements make the Megabass PopMax Topwater Fishing Lure my clear-cut choice for the best popper lure on the market today. 

2. Booyah Prank Topwater Popper

Booyah burst onto the fishing scene several years ago when professional anglers began noticing their spinnerbaits. Since then, the company has branched out to design other lures that function extremely well in various 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 ideal one 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 slowly making its way along the water. 

The Booyah Prank offers a feathered tail that helps look more like a 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 in the fishing industry today. 

3. Yo-Zuri 3D Popper Floating

Yo-Zuri has made quite a name 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 I have the Yo-Zuri 3D Popper as my No. 3 choice.

The Yo-Zuri 3D Popper comes in three distinct color options ideal for any body of water throughout the year. The overall design attracts fish to take a closer look at this lure. It features a larger mouth 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 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 feed 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

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 with abundant 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 has enticed fish to bite for decades. 

5. Arbogast Jitterbug

Another undeniable classic from the Arbogast brand is the Jitterbug. This is simply a must-have lure for any angler as you’ll quickly 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’s unique design 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

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 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. 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 Rebel Lures Pop-R’s slightly altered concave mouth 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 to mimic what a fleeing bait fish might look like from the depths below. 

7. Rapala X-Rap Pop 07

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 entices 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 can look 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 poppers like the Rebel Lures version. This lure also features 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 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. It added holographic eyes and scales to the body, giving it a hyper realistic appearance to underwater predatory fish. 

8. Heddon Chug’N Spook Popper

The Heddon lure company has been around for 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 positively affect 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 various sizes, including 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 when topwater lures are the most ideal options. 

9. 6th Sense Splashback 70 Popper

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 made to cause more of a splash than other popper styles. The 6th Sense Splashback 70 Topwater Popper Lure is another solid option 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 retrieved rapidly. The lure also comes in wicked color patterns that set it apart from the usual popper style lures on the market. This is not your grandfather’s popper lure and 6th Sense has designed a well-balanced lure that targets larger fish with a bigger splash. 

This lure also has excellent side-to-side movement that makes it easy to walk the dog or let the popper dart in any direction it wants as you work it through the water’s surface. 

10. Yo-Zuri 3DR Popper

I would be remiss if I left out the Yo-Zuri 3DR Popper Floating Topwater Popper. This highly detailed popper lure is made with specialized waves or ribs along the bottom of the plug that 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 like real bait fish. 

The feather portion on the rear treble hook is not as rigid as other brands and can look 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 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 my list.

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 considered before making your next purchase. 

How Does a Popper Lure Work
Popper Lure in Action

Styles

As we’ve noted, you will want to ensure you’re getting the right 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. You still want to abide by the classic ‘match the hatch’ rule. 

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 roam 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. 

A few different styles of popper lures 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 ensuring you’re using them in the right time and place. 

Spitters 

One of the most common types of popper lures is known as ‘spitters.’ These 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 grab the attention of nearby fish and make the lure look like a frog or even a small bait fish 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. 

Chuggers 

Another kind of popper lures are known as ‘chuggers.’ These more traditional types of lures 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 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 appear much more similar to an actual frog or other creature 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. 

Jitterbug 

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. Still, 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 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. 

Size

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 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 medium power rod with 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

You should pay close attention to color 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 plan to fish in a body of exceptionally clear water, 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 can detect it easier in the darkness due to the bold outlines of the body. 

Last update on 2024-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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