Popper Usage [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Popper Usage

Nathan Smith
05-30-2000, 10:35 AM
I have a couple of questions about using poppers and striper beavior. When is it more effective to use popers then subsurface bait imitations. Is it a funny issue or are there times when top water will actually bring more strikes?

05-30-2000, 10:43 AM
Good question.

This season I have been using crease flies and poppers after I have consistently landed several schoolies. But, I have been having success at night, regardless of the color, tide, current or conditions. Maybe it's just the agressiveness of the schoolies since I haven't landed anything over 20" on a popper.

What do the masses say?

05-30-2000, 12:10 PM
Here's one I've had a hard time with:

Why or when would one use a popper on a fly rod instead of on a light spinning rod? I've never SWFFed poppers, since it alweays seems to make more sene to chuck them with light spinning tackle. I love to fish poppers with a 5wt for panfish, and even bass, but these are cases where the lure (fly??) is either too light to cast or has to be light not to spook fish. not the case in salt water, as best as I can figure out. What am I missing?

05-30-2000, 01:20 PM
I like to use poppers early in the am at first light I want to get there attention? If you think about it that's the time you see them on top busting bait.

Bob Pink
05-30-2000, 08:23 PM
I think part of the appeal of poppers/sliders/gurglers when swff is very much the same as when fishing spinning/conventional on top. There is no moment more fun than the feel of that impending strike on the surface. Seeing the water being pushed from behind as a fish tracks the offering. So if we enjoy fishing with a flyrod, why not include the topwater action and add to the enjoyment.
Surface presentations always seem to attract the more aggressive fish in the area, since the 'schoolies' are often more agressive, they rise to the occasion (pun intended) first.
When I've had the opportunity to be selective around a pod of fish surface feeding, I've tried working the very edges of the action. If a bigger fish is going to come up, it seems to be out on the edges.
And then there will be the fish like at the Spring Run clave that the 'pope' took fishing a popper midday at low slack that came up out of nowhere like a freight train. Juro had a firsthand view of that one.

05-30-2000, 09:28 PM
Great topic, and one that definitely has the mystique of fishing all over it. Clearly to Josko's point the use of poppers is waaaay easier on spin gear, and a great application for spin gear's advantages. Like BobP, I also love poppers on a fly rod 'cause they are such a blast to fish, and there's a challenge in putting one together that matches the capabilities of the flyrod as well as having a good popping action. A lot of the guys here have been making effective and amazing looking crease flies (see patterns). I tend to go with livebody foam, and I really like the ones with the forward flared cup faces because they cast easily and pop with little effort.

Once you get a good design or two together the next challenge is dealing with the intermediate line! I think I am finally going to bite the bullet and buy a SW bug taper line. They are great to cast and if I could fish the popper at the speed I like to fish them without worrying about sinking the line I would do it more often. The intermediate line makes me rush the retrieve a lot more than I like.

The times I do best with poppers are during slack tides or off-light hours when the visibility and added disruption helps convince fish to hit. I can recall a couple of holes where the fish lay during still tides. Somedays you can't seem to do more than urge one or two fish to inspect a fly fished subsurface whereas switching to a popper gets a committed and aggresive lunge from several feet down to attack the popper.

Also, blues are suckers for them and it's a great way to enjoy the bluefish battle on a flyrod.

Even with popper flies it's not automatic, they seem to be very selective about suggested color, profile and most importantly size. Any good spin popper guy will agree with you on that one, bass seem to be particular about the popper they will take often enough to be noted.

At this point I like a few popper fly patterns...

a) squid banger - extra large livebody foam cylinder, mill cup end using dremel tool and poke a starter hole with a large bodkin. Hook long shank humped Tiemco. Wrap hackles for legs and collar at base of legs. Underwrap thread and push foam over the shank immediately after a drop of zap-a-gap is applied. Wrap reflective spotted sticker sheet piece around the foam, use large eye near the base of the foam cylinder like a squid and coat with a thin epoxy coat.

b) Herring banger - Tie matched hackles like the juvie, upper flanks silver polar flash, top with baitfish back synthetic (durable). Set this part 1/3 shank toward eye from bend (or per preference). Cut large foam cyl with a vee groove in the rear to match tie-in point of baitfish body (above). Cup face with dremel. Underwrap and zap in place. Use bright reflective tape over body flanks, big eye in herring position and dark back. Draw dark dot behind eye at edge of gill with marker. Apply thin epoxy coat. This retains some profile even though it's a popper.

c) silverside popper - livebody foam flared to the front with scooped face (comes with hole). Hook 811s (short popper body). Tie transparent synthetic hair (bottom), silver polar flash (core) and light seafoam green synthetic fishhair (top) a little ways above the bend. Underwrap and thread popper head w/ zap. Cut a strip of reflective tape or the space between rows of sticker eyes and stick on each side of popper body. Attach a small eye like a S/S. Pantone olive / green back, coat with thin epoxy coat

d) sand eel slider / popper - hard to beat page's slim jim for a slider, but to get a better pop cut a thinner, longer livebody cylinder at an angle so that the 'face' is longer on top, shorter on bottom (like a classic bass popper). Hook 911s. Tie with a longer tail like the deep eel or according to your preference, poke starter hole using a large bodkin and slide over zapped underwrap. The body can be enhanced using a matched segment of body braid, which offers a number of flashy accents as well as some structure. Otherwise use either pearl tape or hold a strip of flashabou on the side while gluing like Page does to get that body shimmer. Use small yellow eyes, pantone back or use dark reflective tape for a back.

Caught my first bonito from shore on this slider / popper!

05-31-2000, 07:26 AM
Slight correction - looked at the big banger poppers, I had to cut a slit in the bottom w/ a razor to accomodate the humped popper hooks (verses pushing thru a long-wise hole. The reflective tape covers the damage, zap the slit afterward.

Also should mention another reason for effectiveness in off-light could be the opacity of the foam body against the sky (ie. black patterns).

05-31-2000, 12:17 PM
I must admit that Josko's point is well taken. I like to fish big poppers and don't exactly have the best time casting them on the fly.

I do tend to try them after I have already taken a few fish below surface. Slack tide and low light, especially in the evening after things have calmed down from the day have always been good for me on poppers. However, my all-time popper favorite is big nasty windy conditions, fishing in between the swells over structure or in the wash where waves crash onto rocks--kind of tough on the fly but results in big bass.