Perfect Trophy Red Drum Popping Cork Combo

For the past 4 seasons we have had the opportunity to film with Mark Davis and the BigWater Adventures team with Captain Mitchell Blake – Fish IBX on the Neuse River of NC. The show takes place out of the Trophy Red Drum Capitol of the World – Oriental, NC.

On the show we target and fish for giant Red Fish known locally as Trophy Red Drum or Old Drum. Throughout the show we use Blabber Mouth Popping Corks and soft plastics. Since we started filming finding that right rod and reel combo has been a challenge .. until now.

It’s important to use the right gear to target these fish. In the months of July – September the fish migrate to the Pamlico and Neuse River area to spawn. Catching these fish are fun but you must be respectful of the fishery by handling these fish with care and using the right tackle so the fish are not hurt during the fight.

I agree with Mark that he has found the perfect PENN Rod and Reel combo for targeting these fish with heavier popping corks. The Blabber Mouth Cork is a heavier cork so you need a rod and reel that is balanced well. You find yourself “popping” a lot and if the combo is not balanced well you will get worn out relatively quick.


The rod is a PENN 7′ Battalion in the 12 to 20  pound class. Mark says “it is the best rod I’ve found that works for these fish. It’s a stout extra fast rod, but still has enough flexibility to absorb the headshakes and shock of the massive runs.


The rod is perfectly paired with a Penn Slammer III or Spinfisher SFVI 5500 to ensure you have enough power and line capacity to hold the 300 yards of  50 pound Threadlock Braid or 40 pound Smackdown Braid tied to the new 40 pound Seaguar Gold Label fluorocarbon.

Terminal tackle is extremely important and, since this fishery is exclusively a catch and release fishery we are using the Z-Man TT 1/2oz jig head cut down to 1/4 oz with an 8/0 hook.

Below you will find info and links to the entire set up we use on the show. Make sure you check out the show in 2019!

The Mark Davis Perfect Old Drum Popping Cork Set Up

Penn 7’0” Battalion Extra Fast

Penn 7’0” Battalion Extra Fast (12-20# Mono, 15-40# Braid)


Penn Slammer III & Spinfisher SFVI 5500

Seaguar Gold Label

Seaguar 40# Gold Label Fluorocarbon, 50# Threadlock Braid, 40# Smackdown Braid

Z-Man SwimmerZ

Z-Man 6” SwimmerZ, 7” Jerk ShadZ with Pro-Cure in Menhaden & Mullet Scents

Blabber Mouth Pink Popping Cork

Popping Cork
Blabber Mouth Popping Cork

Z-Man TT Jig Head

Jig Head
Z Man TT 1/2oz cut down to 1/4oz with 8/0 Hook