Q: “I really enjoy using popping bugs for all kinds of saltwater species, and I think sometimes larger fish will take a bug faster than a normal streamer pattern. But I have missed a number of strikes when I thought I should have gotten a hookup. Any suggestions?”
A: There could be several reasons why you aren’t hooking up. When retrieving popping bugs, anglers tend to flip the rod upward to activate the popper. After the upward lift of the rod tip, they immediately lower it to repeat the process, but that develops slack in the line until it can be retrieved. When a fish strikes on a slack line, a missed hookup often results.
Another possible reason for failure is the type of hook on the bug. When a normal-length hook shank is used, the point is often situated under the bug’s body. This requires the fish to grasp the entire bug and hook. Placing the point beneath the body reduces the necessary gape size, which reduces the chance that the hook will penetrate the fish. A longer hook shank that positions the point well behind the bug body offers the full gape of the hook to the fish and causes the hook to dangle downward so the fish strikes it first. This also makes it easier to lift the bug from the water for the next cast.