How To: Plug Retrieves for Stripers #143

Hogy Charter Grade Plug Retrieves for Stripers

Hogy Charter Grade Popper

Charter Grade Popper

A popper is an excellent “search bait” in that it makes a loud “popping” noise, getting a fish’s attention through sight and sound; our Hogy Popper also features internal rattles, increasing its sound impact. It is typically retrieved slowly in the water, which gives fish in the surrounding area time to respond. A popper is ideal in calm, quiet water where it will have the most auditory impact.

A common tactic is to use a popper to determine whether or not fish are in the area; even if the fish are only slapping at the plug and not getting hooked, you can then switch over to a method that will produce hook-ups.

While poppers from other makers come in both floating and sinking models, we have chosen the former since they are easier to work for inexperienced anglers.

Rod position: Tip pointed toward the water or to any position above horizontal on a boat, while it is most common to hold the rod tip at a higher degree above horizontal when fishing from shore.


  1. Using a rigid knot, like a uni, clinch or other jam knot, is a good choice since they help produce the most splash and pop out of this type of plug. You’ll want to begin with your rod top pointed slightly above or below the 9 o’clock position when fishing from a boat.
  2. For a slow, chugging action, use single sharp downward pops, followed by two to three second pauses.
  3. When trying to cover a lot of water quickly, utilize a series of short, sharp downward twitches while retrieving at a medium-fast speed, imparting occasional pauses for a moment to trigger reaction strikes from fish that may be following the popper.

A method that is often used by freshwater anglers, but is overlooked by those who fish in the salt water, is to cast a popper out and just let it sit after it hits the water. Allow the plug to bob and weave, as the circles it produces on the water’s surface spread out, drawing the attention of the fish in the area. When things settle a bit, give the plug a sharp pop or two and then work it back to the boat at whatever retrieve speed and action you prefer.

Hogy Charter Grade Dog Walker Plugs

Charter Grade Dog Walker Plug

 A walk-the-dog or spook type plug, like the Hogy Dog Walker, is great bait in that is creates a more subtle, walking commotion on the surface that drives fish crazy. Unlike poppers, which some anglers fish way too fast, when you get a spook plug doing its head-swinging, side-to-side action, you will typically be moving slowly as a steady pace through the water, which can elicit more reaction strikes than a popper. You would use a Dog Walker when you know fish are in a general area but are relatively scattered. A Dog Walker is also an excellent choice to fish in or around heavy structure.

Rod position: You tip can be pointed in any number of positions when fishing a spook or walk-the-dog plug. Some anglers fish a spook with the rod tip pointed at the water, while others prefer an upward angler between 30 and 45 degrees above horizontal. When watching anglers who are experienced at walking-the-dog, you will see that same side-to-side swing no matter how the rod is held.

Steps: Using a loop knot or swivel/clip with a rounded profile that allows the head of the plug the freedom of movement, the idea is to give the rod a quick snap, producing enough controlled slack to allow the head to swing left-to-right. “Controlled slack” means producing enough freedom for the head of the plug to swing while maintaining contact and forward movement in case a fish hits the plug. Spook can also be fished like a pencil popper, with the rod held at a 45-degree angle while it is pushed-and-pulled, again producing controlled slack and a fish attracting side-to-side waggle.

Hogy Charter Grade Slider Plug

Charter Grade Slider Plug

Unlike many traditional swimming plugs, which have a metal or plastic bill or swim plate mounted at their head to produce their swimming motion, a slider plug’s swinging, erratic action results from the shape and design of the plug. The slider is a subsurface plug and does not produce fish attracting wakes or other surface disturbances, but its action creates plenty of visual attraction and the rattles inside will help aid auditory awareness. Swimming plugs are great for targeting a specific area, structure or repeated blind casting. Since swimming plugs are subsurface lures, they are effective in rough, windy conditions whereas a surface swimmer is often rendered less effective in these circumstances.

Rod position:

When fishing on a boat, a slider is most effective when the rod tip is pointed toward the water, whereas shore anglers will keep their rod tip horizontal.


  1. Using a loop knot tied directly to your slider, you’ll want to begin with your rod tip pointed at or below the 9 o’ clock position.
  2. For the most consistent side-to-side kick, simply use a steady, slow to medium slow speed retrieve. The slider performs best at slower speeds, but can be retrieved with a medium speed, stop-and-go retrieve to trigger reaction strikes from aggressive fish.
  3. Additionally, you can impart rapid, two to three-inch twitches with occasional pauses to create an erratic fleeing baitfish action.