Popping Good Fun

Poppers come in various shapes and sizes, from pencil shaped poppers to frog shaped poppers.  All should have a place in the Pike fly fishers fly box as they can be a deadly method for catching fish. 

The most common way to use poppers is during the summer in shallow weedy water where conventional flies often get snagged.  The site of a hungry Pike taking a popper off the surface is a site to behold and one that certainly gets the pulse racing.  Often a Pike can be seen making a distinct ‘V’ shape in the water as it homes in on your fly, with the fish often coming from quite a distance in order to grab your fly.  But did you know there are other equally effective ways of using poppers.  In this short article we aim to guide the newcomer through a few of the basic ways of fishing and tying poppers.  Get it right and the sport can be explosive.

The traditional way to tie and fish poppers is with the concave or thick end of the popper facing forward like in the picture shown.  Facing this way your popper will float high in the water and when retrieved the concave shape of the popper will make your fly pop and splutter on the surface acting like a bait fish in distress.  Hopefully this will attract the attentions of any feeding Pike in the vicinity.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry on the retrieve.  Remember, we are trying to make the fly act like a baitfish in distress.  Vary your retrieve.  Try short, sharp jerks followed by a pause, or try just twitching the fly back across the surface.

Another very effective way of tying and fishing poppers is by reversing the foam head so the pointed head of the popper is facing forward like in the picture shown.  Your fly will float as equally well as the traditional method, however on the retrieve your fly will dive.  Somedays this can drive the Pike berserk and they won’t look at a popper tied and fished in the traditional manner.  Again the diving action mimicks a bait fish in distress.

As previously mentioned poppers are normally fished on the surface but did you know that fishing them on a sinking line, a couple of feet off the bottom can be a very good method of catching larger fish.  It is also a very good method for the winter when fish are lethargic and reluctant to chase bait fish down.   For this we recommend using a Rio T-11 Custom Cut flyline as this is a very fast sinking line that will get your fly down to the fish, fast.  Attach to the end approximately 12” of fluorocarbon and then 12” of knottable wire.  You are aiming to have a leader of approximately two feet in length, but you can play around with this.   When retrieved slowly this is a great way of picking up better fish.   This is particularly effective on trout waters.  If you can find out where the trout have recently been stocked then it can be particularly effective as the Pike will be there to pick off any dead and dying trout that have just been stocked.  If the trout are always stocked in the same place then this is a definite advantage.  Don’t be afraid to fish the fly almost static in these circumstances, but be warned, Pike can inhale the fly to the back of their mouth quite easily using this method, so a good pair of long nosed pliers and plenty of confidence will be required when unhooking deeply hooked  fish.

So there you have it, a very simple way of fishing poppers.  It’s a very exciting way of fishing for Pike and on its day can outfish many other methods.  If you want to try tying your own popper then why not follow our step-by-step guide to tying a popper by clicking here: http://pikeshack.co.uk/yellow-baitfish-popper-60/

We have many foam products in stock that are ideal for making poppers and surface flies.  For each size of popper we have given a recommended hook size.  The hooks we have used for this guide are the “Fulling Mill” Pike hooks that we stock.  Please bear this in mind as the gape and length of the hook can vary depending on manufacturer.  We have also included a handy table below to make selection easier.  Why not take a look at our foam popper selection by clicking here: http://pikeshack.co.uk/shop/index.php/fly-tying/foam-products.html

Popper Size Hook Size Species
Mini-Me Pops (Small) 04 Perch
Min-Me Pops (Medium) 02 Perch
Saltwater Poppers (Small) 1/0, 2/0 Pike or Perch
Saltwater Poppers (Medium) 3/0, 4/0 Pike
Saltwater Poppers (Large) 5/0, 6/0, 8/0 Pike
Pencil Poppers (Medium) 2/0, 3/0 Pike
Pencil Poppers (Large) 3/0 Pike
Half Cones (Medium) 2/0, 3/0 Pike
Half Cones (Large) 4/0 Pike
Diver Heads 2/0, 3/0 Pike
Frog Bodies 3/0, 4/0 Pike
Art Deco Poppers (3/4”) 4/0 Pike
Art Deco Poppers (1”) 6/0, 8/0 Pike