Popping Cork Versatility

A number of years ago I down sized my inshore tackle box from a seven drawer to a three drawer model. The seven drawer model took up too much room, was a pain to lug around, was about impossible to keep organized, and I only used about 20% of the tackle in the box on a regular basis. When I down sized I had some serious decisions to make as far what tackle to keep and what to let go. When I made the decision to go to a smaller box versatility became an issue, I needed tackle that was effective on multiple species of fish. For instance the proper hook could be used for both Sheepshead and Spadefish thus eliminating the need for two separate hook spaces.

I quickly realized the vast majority of the room in the large tackle box was consumed by several different types and sizes of corks. What I needed was one or possibly two styles of floats that where small and that I could use for multiple species. As I thought about the different types of corks I had used over the years, their versatility, and their ability to catch fish, the small popping cork stood head and shoulders above the rest.

My first introduction to the popping cork was at least 25 years ago when some friends of mine were using them to catch trout in the surf off of Edisto Beach. These guys would cast them into the surf with a live shrimp on, pop the cork several times under a slow retrieve, and the large sea trout would be all over it. At the time popping corks were constructed of balsa wood, only came in a couple of different sizes and were not available in a weighted version.

Popping corks have done quite well in the tackle evolution, for instance now they are made of styrofoam, painted with high visibility paint, are available in both a weighted and non-weighted version, and come in at least a 1/2 dozen different sizes. I have selected the small (3-inch) weighted popping cork as my primary live bait float. The reason for this selection is as follows, it takes up less room in the box, is easy to cast, and it eliminates the need for cork weight