Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fly Rod Bass Poppers

In the comments of my previous blog post, Mel from the Pond Stalker ( ) blog inquired about what popper I've been using for catching bass on the fly rod from my local waters.

A couple years back, I started tying and using this style (introduced to me by James Smith from Georgia):

These have worked REALLY well for me at times, and I've caught bass up to @ 19" on them.  They have some bulk to them that pushes water, the foam sheet lips form a popping mouth, and the the marabou tail and boa yarn belly area give the impression of movement even when the popper is at rest on the surface.  They cast almost like a wet sock, however.  I do like them!

HOWEVER, this year I've been fishing with bass poppers I've tied using pre-fabbed (store bought) foam heads.  This is just one example I tied up last night, but it's pretty typical of what I've been using all season:

Just a marabou tail, the popper body, and some rubber legs is all that is needed.  Its smaller and somewhat more compact than the first popper I mentioned.  I use a Tiemco (or Umpqua) 8089 Bass Bug Hook in a size #10....although I would probably use a #8 if I could.  I think they may only make this hook in sizes #10, #6, and #2.
Don't let the hook size fool you.  That style of hook is much bigger than normal hooks.  I've read that the size #6 compares to about a 2 or 1 in other hook styles.

Anyway...I can't recall off-hand who manufactures the foam head/bodies.  I buy them at the local Sportsmans Warehouse.
I did some searching on-line, and found some similar ones:

One key to the design seems to be the flat belly.  It helps the popper maintain proper position in the water, and allows for reasonable hook gap to improve hooking percentage.  Bass are bass...and they will still throw this fly sometimes.  The ones I use look just like these...but this picture came from an eBay seller's page:

They are very quick & easy to tie, durable, float all day, and cast reasonably well with a 5 or 6wt fly rod.
I've caught a lot of bass on them already this season, and my biggest bass so far on one measured 20", which is a REALLY nice bass for Iowa, especially considering it came from a heavily fished public pond in town.

Although I consider it to be a "small" bass popper, its generally too big for bluegills to manage.  I still catch some on it occasionally, and last week I had an 8.5" Bluegill completely inhale it...the whole thing in its mouth, lips closed!!  That was bizarre.  I've also caught smallmouth bass, green sunfish, crappies, and even a couple of channel catfish on these poppers.  Check out my previous blog entries for pictures of these in fishes' mouths.

Good luck!  :)


  1. Thanks for the update and information, I to have transitioned from the gurgler style patterns to the prefabbed foam heads. Just easier to tie in my opinion though the others are certainly fine flies in there own right.

  2. Thanks, Dave, for both the feedback on what Poppers you are tying and also for the link to my blog. Most appreciated :)

    I will check into getting some of these foam heads from my local Sportsmans Warehouse, too!