Poppers: Covering Your Basses
There’s no better way to take any fish than on the surface. Anyone who’s fished poppers knows this. Those of you who haven’t need to give it a shot and June is a great time of year to get started. Largemouth Bass will blast poppers in the shallows right now whether they’re on beds (try to leave them alone – if you actually see them on a nest) or just up shallow feeding heavily.
Smallmouth Bass are well known as fish that love to “look up” and demolish helpless poppers seductively popped along the surface.
My number one favorite popper is a poly foam (closed cell) blockhead shaped popper that moves water very well and lays nice and flat on the surface. These bodies are very light with the best proportion being about the size of your thumbnail (adult). I also carry other profiles and find them all useful at times.
- Lefty’s Poppin’ Bug style body
- Concave-faced and conical shaped body
- Concave-faced and bullet shaped body with flat underside.
The Lefty’s is a more elongated popper body that floats very well but sports a smaller front face. These poppers are better if the fish seem reluctant to take a “big” popping bug. The more subtle action can make a big difference at particular times.
The cupped or concave faced popper, such as the Rainy’s Mini-Me’s, will really dig and move a lot of water, probably more than any of the aforementioned. I like to use these “loud” poppers especially in off-colored or stained water where you really need to let the fish know where you’re at.
The cupped faced bullet shape with a flat belly or ventral aspect, such as the Rainy’s Bass Pops, pushes slightly less water than the conical, but it provides more of a hook gap – owing to the flat bottom. If you’re ever having issues getting solid hook-ups with a conical shaped popper – go to a flat bottom design such as the blockhead or the flat bottom bullet and your hooking percentage will increase.
Saltwater – tie some of these flies up on stainless steel hooks and you’ll be well prepared for your saltwater sojourns. Typical sized bass poppers on SS hooks work great for: baby tarpon, snook, redfish, spotted trout, jacks, ladyfish, small peacock bass and a host of other salty critters.
Whatever the situation, not all poppers are created equal. Note I mention only foam poppers here. I believe foam poppers are superior to hair, wood and hard plastics. These feather light poppers are easy to throw and hold up to a lot of abuse, but most importantly will ride high in the water all day, or until the fish tear them to pieces.
Regardless of your preference, just remember to avoid the “one-method-Pete” syndrome of force feeding fish flies and lures that YOU think they’re going to like. Many times YOU’RE wrong, but the fish will readily take something different if given the chance.