Like most baits, the fish will show you what they want from a popper each day. Cook typically starts with a pop-pause just long enough to let the rings start to settle, then he hits it again.

If the bite is slow, he may allow 3-4 seconds between pops, but all the while, he’s watching for window shoppers.

“If you ever have one roll beneath your bait or boil, give it three to four little twitches,” he said. “It looks like a bait trying to get away and they’ll crush it.

And don’t hesitate to pair a popper with a walker or a buzzbait.

“This a great follow-up bait,” Cook said. “If you have one blow up and miss your bait, you can throw a popper in there and you don’t pull it straight through the strike zone. Pop it once or twice and 9 times out of 10 they’ll eat it.”

Complementing his hard body popper, Cook also keeps a SPRO Bronzeye Poppin’ Frog 60 handy for fragmenting fall grass beds. He’s not necessarily looking for topped-out vegetation, but spots where a fish might pull him into cover, the frog’s stout twin hook design tends to yield greater consistency than a treble hook bait.

The frog’s also a better option for reaching into tight areas like docks or the shady pockets beneath overhanging trees.

“You can’t skip a popper, but you can skip a frog,” Cook said. “And if you throw a little high and your frog gets hung (in the tree foliage) it’ll come back out better. Treble hooks don’t come out as easily.”