This summer at ICAST Berkley launched a huge lineup of new topwaters that includes poppers, walking baits, prop baits and wake baits. Of them, the first one that caught my eye – somewhat because of the attention pencil poppers have received over the last couple years – was the Cane Walker.
I put it to work on some smallmouths and largemouths around central Minnesota to see what this bait has to offer.
As far as pencil poppers go, the Cane Walker fits the description you’d expect. It’s 5 inches long, weighs 5/6 ounce and comes with three treble hooks. That keeps it about on par with the ima Little Stik 135, Evergreen Shower Blows and Lucky Craft Gunfish 115 – three of the most popular pencil poppers on the market.
The difference, to me, seems to be in the finer details of the topwater.
It comes stock with a feathered treble. Not that that’s too unusual, but it is a nice touch. The Cane Walker is also offered in a solid array of colors that fit just about any scenario you’ll encounter. Another feature I like is the mouth seems to be cupped just right to cause enough commotion in choppy water to be visible, but not so much that it looks like someone is doing a cannonball in the lake every time you twitch it.
Finally, the biggest thing that sets it apart is the hooks. Three Fusion19 1x treble hooks (which come standard on all Berkley hard baits) are fastened underneath. They’re super strong and razor sharp.
The hooks are the reason that when a fish tries to sniff the Cane Walker it makes it in the boat. Having treble hooks that are trusted by guys like Justin Atkins, Scott Suggs and Justin Lucas right out of the package is a huge deal. Not that changing trebles is a hard task, but it seems dumb when you have to do it on a brand-new lure you spent your money on.
The durability of the trebles is a big deal. Sure, any hook can be sharp, but the Fusion19s resisted bending out even when I was fighting a 4-plus-pound smallmouth on 30-pound-test braided line. I could tell the hook was tough when I get the pliers on it to work the barb out of a fish and there wasn’t any flex when I locked the pliers down on the shank. Does this mean they are entirely resistant to bending out? No. But, I will say in my time throwing the bait, and while catching piles of fish, I never got the impression there would be an issue.
The Cane walker is slightly shorter than other pencil poppers but just as “dense,” and the bullet shape and tail-weighted design made this bait fly. If you’re trying to make it out there to some schooling fish or trying to cover as much of a flat as possible, you shouldn’t have an issue reaching your final destination.
The weighting system also helps it walk with ease. I could work the bait slowly and make it bounce nearly 180 degrees from side to side, or speed it up and get it to walk in a very narrow lane. Even in choppy water, the bait still walked and spit water. The versatility helped me match the mood of the fish.
Really, there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t give the Berkley Cane Walker a try. The fact it costs just $7.99 is incentive enough – especially when you compare it to some of the other premium-priced pencil poppers on the market. From the colors to the hooks and the action, this bait seems to be a winner. Fall can be prime time for topwaters, so now might be a good opportunity to try one out. Oh, and if you’ve never tried a pencil popper, this is the perfect one to introduce you to the category.
Product: Cane Walker
Weight: 5/6 ounce
Length: 5 inches