Fishing Cork Review
Learn the difference between fishing corks (floats) and
the how to.
Using the right fishing cork can make the
difference between catching fish and just fishing.
Find out what fishing cork is right for you?
Every angler has his favorite method for presenting his lure or bait with a cork. Some anglers use methods and don’t really know why; they just know that they catch fish with the method they use. Others know the why and how-to and, most importantly, why they resort to a specific type of cork given certain situations.
There are many different fishing cork designs on the market these days with newly developed ones appearing at times. All of them were designed to perform a certain way, including how it will manipulate the lure or bait. Some corks work better than others in attracting and catching fish but even the best of corks seem to present a degree of pitfalls. Making the right choice can make the difference in catching fish or not.
Many fishing corks are designed to simulate some type of noise that attracts fish when the rod tip is lifted or popped, whether it is a clicking or rattling sound which mimics jumping shrimp, or a gulping noise which sounds like fish engulfing bait on the water’s surface, or a water spray that mimics scattering surface bait fish.
Some corks try to employ multiple sounds while others make a single sound. The concaved-top corks (cupped-shaped top) are the ones designed to grab the water’s surface when lifting or popping the fishing rod tip, producing a spray and/or gulping sound. Corks producing a rattling or clicking sound achieve this by means of a sliding rod and bead setup or BB’s inside a hollow designed body. Some of them can either be weighted or non-weighted.
When a fish hears or feels these sounds resonating through the water, they are naturally drawn to the area, and that’s where your presentation is important. The fish will either attack the lure or bait that mimics what they are feeding on or ignore it if it looks suspicious or unnatural.
Your objective is to get the fish to take the bait but this can only happen depending on how much you know about the fish you pursue and the cork you use. If you know you aren’t getting any strikes on your lure or bait in over a given period of time, you’d better be scrambling to change your tactics and, more notably, examining the versatility and effectiveness in your presentation.
Comparatively speaking, live bait may take the edge off of presentation for the most part, but those that use lures will have to make an extra effort to make the best presentation if they want to catch fish. This doesn’t mean that when using live bait you can recklessly present it any way you want and expect to achieve good results. Even with live bait you can strike out if presentation is lacking.
For example, if you are fishing skittish fish where too much noise may spoke them, you might have to reexamine your cork to see if it’s too noisy when it lands and moves. Cases like this seem to happen when fishing an area of concentrated light at night.
On the other hand, plenty noise can work to your advantage, like when fishing water that is very much stained. The sound will help the fish locate your bait.
Let’s examine the types of fishing corks and how each performs including the pros and cons. First of all, you must use a cork the way it was designed if you expect it to produce.
The Popping Split Cork
The popping split cork is probably most familiar to anglers. This is the cork that is tapered at the bottom and wider and concaved at the top with a split along the length to place your fishing line in. A plastic line pin is used to retain the cork to the line by inserting it through the hole that runs lengthwise. These corks are constructed of Styrofoam and are often weighted at the narrow bottom end.
The popping split cork can cast very far because of its tapered design, lightness and forward weight. When this cork is popped, the concaved top tips down and produces a gulping sound and spray. It is very effective in attracting fish but grabs the water with much resistance when setting the hook and/or retrieving.
These corks can come off the line if used on too small of diameter line, but they are easy to set the line depth by lifting the line pin out of the cork and moving the line up or down and replacing the line pin.
One main thing to keep in mind when using ANY cork that utilizes a split design and line pin retainer is that you must use line of thick enough diameter so that the cork does not slide along the line when pinned. Using thin braided line like 6/20 (6 lb. diameter/ 20 lb. test) will not work well as the diameter is too small to keep the line from sliding through the cork when pinned. Without getting complicated, a good rule of thumb is to use line that would be no smaller in diameter than standard 14 pound monofilament (ideal 20 lb.). Braided line as a rule is too slippery and can cut the Styrofoam body of a cork if the line slips through it.
The Cajun Rattle Popping Cork
The Cajun rattle popping cork lives up to its name. This is perhaps the nosiest cork around, rattling very loudly at the slightest movement. It is concaved at the top to produce a gulping sound and spray. It is tapered at the bottom for streamline casting. Like the popping Styrofoam split cork, it too has a split along its side to place your line in but doesn’t use a pin to retain it. Instead the line is wrapped around the top and bottom sections several times and then snapped into the retaining locks.
The Cajun rattle cork is made of hollow plastic with BB’s concealed inside and a weight glued to the interior body at the tapered end. When the cork is popped, it dips down briefly and then pops up and tips forward producing both a rattling and gulping sound with a moderate spray.
This cork is hard to throw off the line when properly attached. It is very easy to set the fishing line depth by unsnapping and unwrapping the line from the retainers and sliding the line through the slot to reposition it. This cork has excellent casting ability and can almost spool low line capacity reels if cast with the wind.
These corks work best with monofilament lines as using thin braided line will not keep the line secured into the line snap retainers. Many anglers using this type of cork for the first time lose them on the first cast because of improper rigging.
The Cajun rattle corks must be handled very carefully because if dropped on a hard surface the airtight sealing will be compromised, allowing water to enter into the interior, and/or the weight may break loose inside. When this happens, the cork will need to be discarded as it will not float upright (or not float at all) and the BB’s will eventually rust and stick to the cork’s interior wall.
But there’s other notable problems with the Cajun rattle cork according to Captain Tim Ursin of Shell Beach, Louisiana. “I’m not too fond of the plastic snap-on corks (such as the Cajun rattle corks) as the part that the line snaps into is inconsistent in the width of the opening. There were many times that upon snapping the line into the cork it pinched the monofilament to the point where it weakened it and eventually caused it to break,” he complained.
However, those that like using braided line and want to use the Cajun rattle cork must tie a 6-7 ft. 20 lb. mono leader (Berkley Vanish preferably) to the braided line. This way the cork can be securely clipped along the mono leader.
The key is to tie the lines together by first making a 2-3 inch loop in the end of the braided line and tying it together with a single overhand knot to keep the loop together. Then pass the end of the mono line through the braided loop (as if it were a hook eyelet) and tie an improved clink knot. Pull the line tight at opposing ends until the knots tighten and then cut the loose tag ends close to the knots so they can pass through the rod eyelets upon casting. When finished, there will be 2 small knots in the line about 2 inches apart that pass easily through the rod eyelets. (Do not make the overhand knot used for the braided line loop in the mono line or it will produce too large of a knot)
The Cajun Rattle Tapered (Torpedo) Cork
The Cajun tapered (torpedo) rattle cork is much like its counterpart in construction but is tapered on both ends. It too is weighted and connects to the line in the same fashion as its counterpart but it only rattles and makes a moderate water spray when popped..
This cork casts very well and lands with little splash. You can set the hook in an instant and it presents very little resistance when retrieved. The action of this cork is different than its counterpart in that when you pop your rod tip the cork does not drop first but instantly pops to the surface in a lever action.
When using lures with this cork you can tell what’s happening to the action below by watching the cork point at different angles. This can be used to time the action of your lure: cork leans to you, lure high off the bottom; cork begins to point to12 o’clock , lure descending to the bottom most point.
Anglers can test the rhythm of the action as to what produces the most strikes by counting after the cork comes to the 12 o’clock position before popping the cork again. The action could be like: rod pop and wait for cork to point to 12 o’clock and then count 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, before popping the rod again. Sometimes the fish want more action and other times they want less action. Adjust the count accordingly through trial and error. Line depth setting is also very easy just like its counterpart.
The Popping Clicker Cork
The popping clicker cork is construction of Styrofoam and has a hole through the center with a metal rod (or leader material) which is looped and crimped on each end to hold plastic beads at the top and metal beads at the bottom for weight and noise. Inside the hole of the cork on each end is a short flared tubular plastic sleeve insertion so that when the rod moves up and down it slams the beads against them, producing a loud clicking sound. Additionally, because of its concaved-shaped top, it also produces a moderate gulping sound almost simultaneously with the click noise.
Captain Tim Ursin, however, is fond of this particular cork because “it makes plenty of noise with a small amount of effort.” He particularly likes to use this model with the flexible titanium wire down the center in the fall and spring when depth setting is pretty much fixed.
The popping clicker cork jerks the lure or bait upward when the fishing rod is popped. But like the split weighted popping cork, it has a lot of resistance when retrieving and/or setting the hook. Depending on the weight of the lure or bait, it can be difficult to set the hook on smaller feeding fish.
Other problem areas with this design cork is that after much use, the hollow sleeve insertions that the beads slam against become recessed into the cork’s Styrofoam body, hindering the beads from producing the brisk clicking noise it once had when new. On models not using titanium rods or leader material, the metal rod can bend and hinder the beads from clicking and/or moving.
The titanium rod design models are twice the price of the ones using cheaper metal rods that bend easily. To salvage the cork once the hollow sleeve insertions become imbedded in the cork, you can cut the sleeve crimp on the lower rod loop and remove the rod and beads and place it in another like cork with good hollow sleeve insertions, then slid the beads and then an A5 leader crimp up the rod and loop it back and re-crimp it. This is much cheaper than throwing the whole cork away with the titanium rod in it.
If you really want to be elaborate and make a more permanent version of this cork that won’t pound the hollow tubular sleeves into the cork, use a balsa wood sliding cork of equal size (these versions are usually egg-shaped, not concaved at the top). These corks have a large metal flared insert that runs through the cork and out the other side and can take a real beating and won’t indent the wood around it so easily like its Styrofoam counterpart.
Line depth setting on this cork is time consuming in that you have to make a leader the length you want and tie it to the bottom loop on the cork every time you want to fish deeper. Likewise, if you want to fish shallower, you have to cut the leader and retie your hook or lure to it. The casting ability of this cork is fair and not as good as the streamlined designs.
The Egg Clicker Cork
The egg clicker cork is very much like its aforementioned counterpart with all of the same problems except it has no concaved top. The cork is very much egg-shaped and, as its name indicates, produces brisk clicking sounds when popped. Because of its shape, this cork has less resistance when retrieving or setting the hook and has good casting ability. The egg clicker cork also comes in the more expensive titanium rod version and can be salvaged in the same way as its counterpart.
The Egg Clip-On Cork
The egg clip-on cork looks just like the aforesaid cork but lacks the rod, beads, hole down the center and hollow plastic inserts. Instead it has a plastic insert that runs down the center with metal spring-loaded hook clips that keep the line secured both top and bottom.
These corks come both weighted and non-weighted and some versions have rattles inside them. These are great corks for those who like to use braided line but work equally as well with mono line. There’s no slippage when the line is wrapped around the hooks a couple of times after pressing down the spring-loaded retainers before releasing them into there hook seats. The cork presents little resistance when setting the hook or retrieving and has very good buoyancy. In fact, popping these corks too hard will cause them to jump out of water if you are using lighter than 3/8 oz. jigs.
On this type cork, line depth setting is as easy as pressing the retainers down and unwrapping the line and moving the cork to another position and refastening it again.
“The clip-ons are easier to change depth when looking for the right depth to fish,” Captain Gene Dugas of Hopedale, Louisiana, said. “They are also good when fishing plastics because you can take them on and off easily and go from corks to titeline. This keeps you fishing and you can pop it back on when you need it again,” he concluded.
Captain Tim Ursin agrees with the aforesaid as well: “During the summer when live bait is available, I rig with a Carolina rig with a 3/8 or 1/2 oz. sliding sinker and use non- weighted corks, because with the clip-on and slotted corks it makes it easier to switch from fishing the bottom to the top.”
These corks are very durable but after some use the top plastic neck protrusion breaks but can still be used as this problem doesn’t stop the retainer line clips from working or hinder the cork’s performance.
The Sliding Cork
The sliding cork is perhaps the most misunderstood cork than all of the other corks combined. This cork is difficult to rig for novice anglers, yet it does what every other cork cannot do: comfortably cast and still be able to fish depths only limited by how you set the bead stopper on your line.
The sliding cork is ideal for fishing live bait at various depths where fish are suspended and where bottom structure won’t allow for bottom fishing. Lures, notably jigs, and dead bait can be used as well on this cork.
Sliding corks come constructed of either wood or Styrofoam with a hollow metal tube down the middle for running your line through it. Any cork, in fact, with a hollow center running down the middle can be utilized as a sliding cork, including the split popping cork if you place the line pin retainer in it first. The retainer pins are usually hollow plastic and the fishing line can be passed through it.
The way to rig this cork is by first sliding a sliding cork stopper and bead up your line, followed by the sliding cork (sliding cork bead and stoppers are sold at sporting good stores or tie a rubber band with a single overhand knot to the line and trim tag ends). Next slide an egg sinker (½ oz. – 1 oz. depending on the size cork you are using) up the line and then tie a #10 or #12 barrel swivel to the end of the line.
At this point the egg sinker can contact the barrel swivel along with the cork if you hold the line above the cork. It should slide freely up and down the line. Now make a 20-30 lbs test mono leader 2 ½ – 3 ft. in length and tie a hook (1/0 – 2/0 Kahle hook if fishing live shrimp or minnows) to one end and tie the other end of the leader to the barrel swivel already on your line. To set the depth, slide the stopper to how deep you want the line to go down before it contacts the bead and cork. After the line is cast out, the stopper and bead will come together contacting the top of the cork, preventing the line form going through it any further. In some cases you will have to feed line out of your reel until the stopper bead contacts the cork top.
When you reel the line in, it will come through the cork along with the stopper and will pass through the rod eyelets and you’ll only have the cork and the leader rig hanging below the rod tip, making for easy casting.
Have you ever had problems casting tandem rigs with a cork? Every angler that has ever cast a tandem rig below a weighted cork knows what eventually happens— a visit to Tangle City ! Especially when throwing into the wind.
The solution to this problem is very simple: use NON-weighted corks when throwing tandem rigs. This will keep the cork trailing the lures rather than trying to race ahead of them, causing a tangling mess in midair. A good cork for this is a non-weighted clip-on egg cork.
Experiment with each fishing cork to find which one is right for your type fishing. One of the best ways to do this is to have different corks rigged on different poles when fishing. See which produces and stick with it. But keep in mind the next trip out the fish may want a different cork presentation, but this way you’ll already be rigged and prepared.
How To Tie Braided line to Monofilament Line: Some fishing corks will not work well when using braided line.The key is to tie a piece of braided line to the mono line and pull the opposing lines tight then cut the tag ends close so that they pass through the rod eyelets.
Braided Line Loop: The first step to tying monofilament line to braided line requires a loop to be fashioned in the braided line then tie the mono line to it with an improved clinch knot.
Sliding Cork Rig: The sliding cork does what every other cork cannot do: comfortably cast and still be able to fish depths only limited by how you set the bead stopper on your line.