You can’t beat an old fashioned popper’s effectiveness for covering ground and making a commotion. With its cup-faced nose, it creates a ton of commotion with each twitch of the rod. Poppers have been popular on Cape Cod since WWII era with the creation of the Atom Striper Swiper by Bob Pond, the creator of one of the most iconic and first mass-produced poppers. Regardless of how you fish a popper, most anglers love watching a big striper come up and smash the lure.
- When to Fish: The popper is the best way to cover the most water near structure. With its cupped face, it makes a loud pop. Most poppers float, so that makes it easy for anglers to present the lure for a longer duration while in the zone.
Many anglers prefer the pencil popper to a traditional popper. Although the nose is still relatively cupped, this lure’s action is more geared to a skittering presentation on the surface. You fish a pencil popper faster than a popper. This allows for covering more water. A pencil popper is longer than a traditional popper, and is often weighted on the tail end. This allows for greater casting distance.
- When to Fish: An excellent go-to lure in windy situations and when stripers are feeding on larger bait fish. A pencil popper casts like a rocket taking off. Fish it fast and cover as much water as possible.
The spook is probably one of the more under utilized lures on Cape Cod. I would argue it is a cross between a swimmer and a pencil popper. Before a starting a soft bait company, the spook was on the top of the list of lures I would use. They are easy to cast and draw crazy strikes. If there was a downside to them, they don’t fish well in rough water and are slightly more technical in presentation requiring constant observation and adjustments in retrieve to ensure the best presentation.
- When to Fish: My favorite time to fish a spook is in calm conditions. A spook with a good rattle will draw attention from pretty far away. An ideal situation would be working it slowly over big boulders or some sort of structure. For whatever reason, I do best with spooks early in the morning or at sunset.
Swimming plugs come in a vast array of different shapes, sizes, colors and material. Smaller 4 to 6-inch sizes are great for schoolie sized stripers and 7 to 12-inch sizes are more popular for larger fish. More traditional anglers will fish with Danny plugs, fished slowly on the surface. Anglers will also troll deeper running plugs such as the Yozuri Crystal Minnow.
- When to Fish: Swimming plugs are very easy to fish and are a good choice for relatively inexperienced anglers. Since the action is “built-in” to the lure and they also lend themselves well to trolling. Use them when conditions are not weedy.
Metals earn their keep for both their ability to be cast very far and their slender sand eel like physique. A properly sized metal lure can cast in just about any wind situation you can imagine. The sizes you’ll want in your box are ½, 1, 2 and 3 ounce.
- When To Fish: Metals are best in windy conditions when stripers are feeding on small forage such as sand eels, juvenile alewifes and small squid. Their compact, heavy mass makes for great casting.
Soft baits are probably the most effective lures for Cape Cod, though not necessarily the easiest to fish when you factor in rigging and presentation. They come in a huge number of different shapes and sizes, all of which need to be paired with the right hook. The upside is, they are truly deadly. The two sizes most popular on Cape Cod are the 7 and 10-inch versions.
- When To Fish: Soft baits are very popular in the spring and early summer when there are a lot of surface feeding stripers. An unweighted soft bait can fill a lot of niches: It can be fished fast with rod tip up for commotion, slow with the tip pointed toward the water for a sub-surface presentation or somewhere in between.