A Pop-R is a popper, so the sound it makes when you put it into motion should be a pop. Right?

Well, kind of. A Pop-R certainly does pop. However, to think of it as a one-sound lure is severely limiting. Part of what has helped a Pop-R pass the test of time and indeed become the lure most widely associated with the term “popper” is its versatility. Depending on how you move the rod, you can get a big range of sounds out of this lure, and often finding the right sound or combination of sounds is important for creating strikes.

The classic “pop,” which probably best imitates a bluegill nabbing an insect on top or a shad flipping, comes from a short but sharp snap of the wrist and begins with the line ever so slightly slack.

Creating a chugging sound begins with a tight line and requires more a sweep than a snap – a longer but less crisp motion. A chug suggests a feeding bass and triggers curiosity and often a competitive instinct.

Somewhere between those two sounds is a spitting action that’s splashy but quieter than a chug and is usually part of a fast presentation. It suggests a shad on the run, fleeing an attacker on the surface, and works great for schoolers and other aggressively feeding fish.

Many sounds fall in-between and defy neat categorization. Far more important than knowing whether a sound should be dubbed a chug or a pop is the simple understanding that the tightness of your line and the speed, power and length of every rod movement all affect the actual sound the lure makes.

Experiment and pay attention to what your Pop-R does with different types of rod movements. As importantly (if not more so), pay attention to which sounds the bass respond to, and know that’s apt to vary from day to day. Finding the specific sound and action that triggers strikes any given day is much like finding the right cadence.

Finally, realize that the best presentation might combine sounds. An occasional big chug might be important for drawing fish from farther away, even if they are mostly attacking after pops. Or it could be the other way around. Mix it up and let the fish decide.