When fishing the flats of the Gulf of Mexico, especially around the “Big Bend” area, my favorite rig to throw for trout and reds is an artificial shrimp under a popping cork. The popping cork rig is so simple to tie and use, even a beginner can use it and have success catching fish.
To tie the popping cork rig here is what you need: A popping cork, there are tons of different brands to choose from, but I like to use the Cajun Thunder. These seem to hold up better than most of the others that I have tried. Next you will need about 2 to 3 ft. of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and either a 1/8oz or a 1/4oz jig head tipped with your favorite artificial shrimp. There are several types of artificial shrimp brands to use from including Gulp, Saltwater Assassin, and DOA. To tie the popping cork rig, all you do is take your leader material and attach one end of it to your jig head using your favorite fishing knot. Take the other end of the leader and tie it to the weighted end of the popping cork and you are done. Now you’re ready to tie it to your main line on your fishing rod.
When fishing for trout and reds, I like to throw this rig using a spinning reel spooled with 10 to 15lb braided line on a 6’6″ to 7 ft. medium action rod. To use this rig, all the angler needs to do is give it a good cast and let the lure settle for a couple of minutes. Then slowly start to reel up the slack in the line. Once the line is tight all the angler needs to do is give the rod tip a quick jerk to get the popping cork to do its job. Repeat these simple steps until the popping cork and lure are returned to the kayak. The popping cork will “pop” in the water which imitates a shrimp popping the top of the water, and mimics the sound of feeding fish at the surface. This process will catch the attention of the trout or the redfish that is waiting to take your bait. So next time you’re fishing the gulf flats give the popping cork rig a try, it’s sure to give you plenty of redfish and trout action.