can't tell you how much fun I've had with the popper this summer. I also had the same experience with small pods of fish, and had followers when the bait/gear guy next to me landed fish. There were some bruiser ocean fish at PnP last weekend - all in heavy shouldered 7-10# class. I would expect those down in Seattle this week.
I did try a tube crease fly in a herring coloration/shape. The casting was very difficult for me from shore - kinda like tossing a leaf on the end of your line. After 30 minutes of 30 foot casts I gave it up.