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The Spittin', Chuggin', Dog-Walking Pencil Popper

Only one lure sounds like the chugging, spitting, dog-walking Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper. That action and sound attracts stripers and big bass from long distances resulting in heart pounding vicious strikes; however, there is more to fishing a pencil popper than just casting it out and walking it. You have to know when to fish it and where. After you know when and where, you should fine-tune your presentation with size and color pattern to maximize your catch-rate.

Pencil poppers come in a variety of sizes and color patterns. While the pencil popper has been a standard topwater bait for coastal anglers for years, inland striper and bass anglers have quietly become quite found of them. The tail-weighted Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper allows for ultra long cast and creates a chugging, spitting action when using the walk-the-dog retrieve.

The peak time for fishing a topwater pencil popper for lakes with stripers and big bass is in the spring and fall. Once the water temperatures warm up in the spring to 50-degrees, anglers can start casting the 1-ounce 6-inch model. Later in the spring, anglers should switch over to a larger 2-ounce 7-inch model to match the growing gizzard shad. In the fall, stripers will begin probing shallow water once the water temperature drops to 70-degrees.

Early in the fall, a larger 7-inch pencil popper will draw the attention of stripers. As the water temperature drops below 60-degrees anglers should switch to the 6-inch model. Key locations for fishing pencil poppers for stripers and for big bass are huge flats where gizzard shad are present or short points that drop off into the old river channel.

What color pattern works best when fishing with a pencil popper? It depends on a few variables. Generally, the chrome and black back or chrome and blue back catch fish on sunny days in clear water; the pearl with blue back or red head and white body for overcast days; when in doubt, the trout pattern seems to catch fish in most situations.

Fishing with a Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper requires anglers to be prepared for catching big fish. Begin with your rod and reel. Working a pencil popper can be exhausting without the correct tackle. A heavy action 7-foot rod and large capacity bass reel will allow an angler to set the hook from a long distance away, but will not wear an angler out from casting and walking-the-dog with a pencil popper.

The reel should have at least 20-pound test monofilament line spooled on it. Abrasion resistant Excalibur Silver Thread line is ideal for fishing with a pencil popper. Silver Thread has enough stretch to take the shock of a big fish strike, but strong enough not to break while landing the fish.

Anglers should also use a snap when fishing with a pencil popper. An XCalibur Hold-Tite Snap allows anglers to change colors of pencil poppers quickly while eliminating the stress from explosive strikes, long casts and weakening from walking-the-dog.

The key to fishing a pencil popper is being in the right area with the size and color that big fish wants. One lure, one-of-a-kind action with big results. That’s what anglers get when fishing a pencil popper where big stripers and bass live.  

Brad Wiegmann is an outdoor writer and fishing guide on in northwest Arkansas and that’s his wife, Judy, in the picture holding two Beaver Lake stripers caught on Cordell Pencil Poppers. For more information on Brad or to book a guide trip, go to