Tying and Fishing Popper Flies

A close up of a newly made, white and red popper. Bass love it when you go fishing with popper flies.
Fishing popper flies is almost as easy as it is to tie.

What Materials You’ll Need to Tie Popper Flies for Bass

  1. Hook – Mustad 33903 kinked, 37187 stinger size 10 to 2 
  2. Thread – 3-0 or waxed 140
  3. Tail – Bucktail, calf tail or Fishar, Flashabou or Crystal Flash.  Two hackle feathers   
  4. Body – Cactus chenille or wrapped hackle
  5. Head- Perfect popper, foam popper, or cor
  6. Eyes – glue or stick-on
  7. Accessories –  Zap a Gap, paint optional

How to Tie a Popper Lure

  1. Select the popper size and style you want to tie and match the hook size to the popper.
  2. Start the thread behind the eye and build a good base for the popper body, tie off and cut. NOTE: If you’re using a 33903 Mustad hook, skip this step.
  3. Most popper bodies come pre-cut to accept the hook. If not, you will have to slice the popper bottom using a razor knife or small saw blade approx.1/3 up and the length of the popper.
  4. Apply Zap A Gap to the hook.  Place the popper over the Zap A Gap and slide it to the eye.
  5. Ensure the popper is centered to the hook and let dry. If you’re going to do a lot of poppers, glue all the popper bodies to the hooks. Once the bodies are set, you can paint the bodies to the color of your choice or use a colored Sharpie and let dry.
  6. Start the thread behind the popper and out ¼ inch toward the bend.
  7. Tie in a small amount of buck or calf tail or any synthetic tail material of you choice.
  8. Tie in the Flashabou or Crystal flash over the top of buck tail.
  9. Tie in one hackle on each side of the popper.
  10. Don’t make the tails too long. If you’re getting good strikes but no hook ups, shorten the tails.
  11. Tie in the Cactus chenille and make 3 or 4 wraps covering the tail tie in up to the popper body. You can also use a hackle feather for this.
  12. Apply the eyes. You can use the stick on or glue on type.

Voila, you’re done. Now that you know how to tie a popper lure, it’s time to try your hand at fishing popper flies. 

Make Your Fly Fishing Popper Your Own

This may seem like a hard one to tie popper flies for bass, but really it’s not. Once you start you will see how easy it really is. There are a lot of different popper bodies, makes and styles on the market. If you use the perfect body popper style you can tie a popper or a slide/diver. Just reverse the popper body. Instead of the wide part toward the front or eye, use the tapered end toward the eye.

Mix and match your colors and materials. There are standard colors like yellow, red, green and black.

Mix them up and experiment. You just might find the perfect combination that works best while popper fly fishing for bass.

Fishing Popper Flies

There is no wrong way to try your hand at fishing popper flies . It all really depends on the fish. When you are popper fly fishing for bass, you should use a slow retrieve or cast out and let it sit. Twitch the rod or make a fast short pull the line. Let it sit and then do it all over again. Or fast retrieve, pull twitch, pull twitch. Just be ready for the big swirl or the hit out of the water.

If you have never tried popper fly fishing for bass, you’ll be in for a thrill. What a rush!!! I guarantee you will be hooked and always looking for a place to fish the popper.  Whether you’re on a stream, river, lake, or pond, try the top water and you’ll be in for a great thrill while fishing popper flies. 

Original Article By Brad Berlin

About The Author

Brad Berlin has been tying popper flies for bass and fishing many of the local streams in the northeast, especially central Pennsylvania, for over 20 years.  He guides on area streams and the Susquehanna River. Brad teaches classes in fly tying and casting. He enjoys fishing the tributaries of Lake Ontario in the fall.

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