APA007: How to pop up a dead bait

Thank you to Andrew Wordsworth for sending in this question. Andrew wants to know: What is the best way to pop up a half lamprey dead bait?

Pike Angler

A bait that is cast out in its natural (dead) state will settle on the lake or river bed. A popped up dead bait is one that has been made to float so it rises off the bottom.

    I use two methods to pop up dead baits.

  • Air
  • Fox Popper

pop up dead bait


My first choice is to inject air into the dead bait with a syringe.

The advantages are: its cheap; its simple; there are no fancy rigs to make up; if the bait comes off the hooks there is nothing left in the bait that you wouldn’t want a pike to eat.

The disadvantages are: baits have to be thawed out before injecting the air; the air won’t stay in a half bait; some baits are too heavy; air can leak out through the skin; you will not know if a bait has slowly sunk while in the water.

I still prefer to use this method when I can. Injecting air works well with smelt and coarse dead baits like roach, perch and skimmer bream.

Fox Popper

Fox have come up with some neat products and these are a classic example. Poppers are highly buoyant little round red foam balls. They are an excellent addition to any pike anglers tackle box.

making pop up rig

Make a short wire trace, about 2 to 4 inches long, with a swivel at each end. Thread a Fox Popper onto the wire when you are making the trace. Pull one of the swivels into the popper.

To mount the popper onto the bait, first determine where on the bait the bottom hook will go. Thread a long baiting needle (I use a piece of wire bent into a crochet style hook) through the bait, from the position of the bottom hook and out through the mouth.

Hook the free swivel onto the hook and pull the popper trace back through the bait. Attach the free swivel onto the bottom hook. Put the hooks into the bait. The popper should be next to the mouth of then bait.

For heavier baits you can use two poppers on the trace. Set up a few traces of different lengths and match them to the size of bait and position of hooks.

pop up rig


I would use the Fox Popper to pop up a half lamprey. Another tip is use a lamprey with just the last two inches of the tail cut off. There will be plenty of blood in the bait to attract the pike.

Thanks again for the question and good luck with the dead baiting.

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