There are few techniques more exciting than popper fishing, when you head out to fish Panama. You not only have more control over where you choose to place your lure, but the visuals and feeling of the strike are some of the best in all of deep sea fishing. In clear waters, you can sometimes see whole schools come zooming by competing for the popper. Occasionally, you might see one or two circling each other, until one makes a move and strikes. Other times, you don’t see a thing until the splash and sudden tug of a unexpected hit. And that’s just when the thrill starts.
Some of the most exciting fighters out there love to strike on a popper. Tuna, Roosters and Cubera Snapper have a love affair the poppers and are some of the best species in Panama fishing, both for their fight and the photo opportunity before they are released.. We also get a lot of action from fish like Dorado, Jack Cevalle, blue jack and mullet snapper on poppers. These are some of the most thrilling fish to catch in the entire ocean, typifying the classic battle between fish and angler.
While you are fighting to bring them in, our crew handles the boat, assisting in getting the trophy fish out and away from the rocks or boat. Boat handling is key in popper fishing. It can mean the difference between an awesome catch or a lost fish. With our minimal draft center consoles a good captain can put you within casting distance of some precarious reefs loaded with fish. We’ve been doing this since 1995, so you can trust that our team is among some of the most experienced in the business.
One of the best parts of popper fishing is casting your lure in amongst the thrashing waters of the Tuna Coast on a feeding school of Cow Tuna. When casting a popper from a light weight spinning setup, you get good control and lure placement, but that also means that the quality of your tackle is all that much more important when you hook a 100 pound plus fish. There will be serious drag pressure when fighting these fish so a Shimano Stella or a Diawa Dogfight with a OceanTackle Tuna Sniper rod is our go to popping setup. You are potentially targeting some of the biggest quarry in the sea, so you have to be ready to deal with them, and that means top notch equipment, hi quality lures, good knots and a proper harness (we use AFTCO) that works with a spinning rod.
The basics of your rig are fairly similar to other fishing approaches. You want to make certain your braid is light enough for a long cast but strong enough for the strength of the fish you are targeting. We use snap swivels at the end of our braid and most of our poppers are pre-rigged with 20 inches of 80 lb monofilament leader using a Unit Knot or Palomer Knot.
Although we do sometimes cast conventional reels, most of the time, especially on windy days, a spinning reel is easier to use, as most experienced anglers know. This type of reel reduces the complexity of managing the distribution of line on the spool during those hard fights, and the design of the setup can also allow you to exert more leverage since your hands aren’t busy with line management duties. Of course, they are expensive, but when you are going for fish of this size and quality, your rig should match your quarry.
The Right Reel and Tackle Choices
One of the first things to make certain of is the test strength of your line. When looking for big fish like marlin and tuna, especially with the violent strikes you sometimes get with a popper, you need plenty of strength. Most common is 65-80 lb braided line which is what most big anglers use when going for the large fish. I have a fondness for the PowerPro Brand. Some use light weight braid in order to cast further which can work, but nothing is more disappointing than exhausting yourself dragging in a beautiful beast that breaks your line at the boat. The thicker diameter of the braid also helps it remain durable even when drug around sharp coral outcroppings. Take the extra precaution of getting the stronger line. It is one piece of equipment where it is always less frustrating to be ready for anything.
Many of your casts will go out at least a eighty meters, possibly farther. You will also inevitably hook up with something big if you put the effort in to it by casting to exhaustion. When you hook the fish you will want to have at least 400 yards spooled on the reel at the minimum. That’s quite a bit, especially with the size of the test line recommended. That will affect your reel needs as well, though most big water fishing rigs like the Shimano Saragossa will be able to handle that amount of line.
There are some key things you need in any reel, regardless of which type you go for. A large line capacity is very important, as is a smooth, strong drag. You will want as big a rate of retrieve as possible, since some of these monsters can really make you struggle. That also means that you need a reel with gearing that can handle the heavy work. Not only would a busted rig mean you losing your catch, but, at these levels of line tension, it could mean an injury.
A good popper rod will be at least seven feet long with a medium to heavy action. It should also be strong enough to handle the large fish and a long cast. I personally like stiff heavy action rods as it gives me better feel of my lure. A longer butt is also important to help you get the leverage you need for those big casts. And it should definitely be made of graphite, as that provides the best weight to strength ratio in the industry, and that is so important with the big, hard retrievals you face when you popper fish Panama.
The Fun of Popper Fishing
Once again, we really cannot overstate the fun and excitement of popper fishing. The strikes are some of the biggest and most magnificent you see in all of sport angling. The rush starts all the way from the initial cast, through watching the circling and eventually the strike, to some of the most energetic and wildly exhausting retrievals you can get.
The kinds of fish we land on a regular basis with this technique is amazing. Come join us for your Panama fishing vacation. All our excursions and packages are great deals, and you cannot miss out on the excitement of our popper fishing trips.