Is there is a self-respecting warm-water fly fisherman who doesn’t have a good selection of poppers in their fly box? There is a good reason they do – few things are as exciting as a fish smashing a popper. Many species of fresh water fish will attack poppers: pike, large and small mouth bass and panfish. I’ve even caught a small muskie incidental to bass fishing and more than once large channel catfish.
The simplicity of fly fishing with poppers is appealing. You won’t need to learn insect taxonomy to match a hatch, nor gear up with fly rods and reels pushing a thousand dollars. You can fish ponds, bays and small lakes from shore, or access more water by wading or from a float tube, canoe or small boat. Many fishing tackle manufacturers offer rod, reel and line kits to get you started at very affordable prices.
Fly fishing with poppers for bass or panfish is a great entry to the world of fly fishing. That is how I got started fly fishing before I ever knew what a trout was. After decades of fly fishing, popping for bass and bluegills is still my first love.
It is frustrating to find a source that stocks quality poppers in a broad selection of sizes, patterns and colors. A friend introduced me to BreamBugs.com
and I have been a loyal customer since.
Let me tell you about the Boogle Bug
which has become my go-to pattern and catches many species of fish. You can tell in an instant the quality that goes into a Boogle Bug
. The perfect concave shaped mouth, the material and finish all let you know you are getting your money’s worth. The Boogle Bug
is just one of the vast selection of brands and types of poppers available at BreamBugs.com.
There are ten tantalizing colors to choose from. I have three favorites that constantly produce.
If you can’t decide whether to try a dark or bright pattern, the Black Lightning is for you. The black body and hackle contrasts with bright yellow tail feathers and yellow rubber legs, giving you the best of both color options. This pattern is usually my starter pattern – and sometimes it never comes off!
Once the sun gets high and damsel flies are hatching and hovering over the water, I switch (or keep a second rod rigged and ready) to the Electric Damsel. The body, hackle and legs are all blue. It sure fools the fish.
This pattern has salvaged many a fishing trip. When all else fails, there is something about orange that triggers savage strikes from fish. I mean, they kill it! The Power Pumpkin has an orange body and legs, black hackle and an orange tail.
There are seven other patterns of the Boogle Bug
that I just haven’t gotten around to using because I’m in a bit of a rut with the success I have had with the three patterns I just described. I will say I have used the Solar Flare
, a brilliant chartreuse popper with very good results, particularly for large mouth bass.
Most of the poppers at BreamBugs.com
are available in many sizes. If bluegills and crappies are your target choose size 8. Size 6 is a perfect size for bass and casts well on medium weight fly rods with a weight forward line. Size 4 will call up large bass from the depths or in choppy water, but you’ll need a stout rod with a bass bug taper to turn it over well.
I appreciate the quality in finish and ruggedness of the poppers available at BreamBugs.com
. If I don’t have a break-off or cast the popper into a tree limb, I’ve fished all day on river trips without changing poppers, and use them again on the next outing. I’m just amazed as I look at my fly box and none of the poppers have chips in the paint. The hackle and legs are as good as new. Part of the reason for this durability is my use of the unHOOKum Tool
. This handy tool removes hooks quickly and easily without harming the popper or the fish.
Poppers can be fished a variety of ways to suit the mood of the fish. You can cast and let the popper sit until all the ripples are gone, then impart slight twitches to resemble a bug on its last breath. Often times you’ll see a shadow emerge from the depths as if they are sneaking up on prey and then go for the kill. You can employ a stop-and-go method where every few seconds you strip the line to give a good “pop”, let it settle, then repeat the pop. One of the most enjoyable ways to fish poppers is to pop and retrieve as fast as you can – much like bass fishermen who use top water buzz baits. The strikes using this method are spectacular! Their techniques are affected by water clarity, brightness, surface conditions and water temperature. Half the fun of fishing poppers is figuring out how the fish want the popper presented and which color they prefer today. With the selection and quality of poppers at BreamBugs.com
that challenge is a bit easier.
About the Author: John Scherrer is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America, a life-long fly fisherman pursuing anything that swims in his home waters of northwestern Pennsylvania and across the country.