In different parts of the country, the popularity of certain floats and float rigs varies. Popping corks and pencil floats are the two most popular, and they come in many sizes to match varying fishing conditions.
Popping corks are popular over grass flats and relatively shallow water. The cone shape and large concave end allow the float to be moved in the water with short jerks to produce a popping sound. That sound attracts feeding fish and when they come to the noise, they find your bait underneath! It is quite effective.
Although we refer to these floats as corks, none of the popping variety are made of cork. Today, they are all made from Styrofoam.
Weighted Popping Corks
Some popping corks are weighted on the small end to allow them to sit upright in the water. This position is ideal for popping. These corks are used in shallow water when no weight is needed to get a live bait very deep. They are positioned on the line above the leader swivel. Generally, these weighted corks are used when the bait only needs to be one or two feet under the surface.
Unweighted Popping Corks
These corks are exactly like the weighted variety with one exception. You guessed it; they have no weight in them! These corks will float flat on the surface and are difficult to pop in that position. These corks are used when a weight is required to get a bait deeper in the water than two feet. A weight positioned close to the leader swivel acts on the cork like the weight in the weighted variety. It allows the cork to sit upright while keeping the bait at the desired depth. These corks are used in water up to about six feet in depth. Because these corks are pegged to the line at a fixed depth, casting this whole rig can become a problem.
Why A Popping Cork?
The popping noise made when the cork is jerked through the water attracts feeding fish. Most of these corks have a white body and a red top. This paint scheme is no accident. In addition to making noise, the cork itself is meant to attract fish as a lure. The red is used to imitate the gill area of a baitfish.