When the dog days of summer hit there’s only one fly you’ll find loading up our tackle boxes: a topwater popper. Sure watching trout gently sip dries will get any fly angler fired up, but nothing will make your knees shake faster than a giant bass exploding on a twitching popper. Sometimes they’ll slam the fly so hard it’ll launch into the air like a rocket, but the second it falls back to the water, they’ll be right there ready to hit it again. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
When you’re planning your summer trips this season, don’t overlook a relaxing day throwing poppers for bass; it may be the most fun you’ve had all year. Don’t forget to bring a friend to share in the fun (and some beer).
Choose Your Weapon
Not all poppers are created equal. Crease flies can be deadly for active fish whereas the gentle side-to-side motion of a spook fly with nail down fish that are on the move. For the really hot days though, the times you find yourself thinking of taking a dip in the water before you next cast, then you need the classic popping sound of a foam-headed bass bug.
We just partnered with Flymen Fishing Company to include their new Surface Seducer Double Barrel foam heads in our tying boxes for the month of July and these bad boys couldn’t be more effective. Their concave face gives off a powerful pop with even the slightest twitch and the curved, shotgun-shaped head allows the fly to just barely dip under the water. It’ll be tough for you to keep fish off your hook with flies tied with these new heads.
Know Where To Look
Throwing a popper doesn’t mean you can throw it anywhere you want. The same rules of finding fish apply, even when you’re throwing flies that stay on top of the water column. Don’t look for fish, look for signs of where fish will be cruising or hiding from the hot summer sun. You need to find structure.
Before you start casting look for points, vegetation or underwater structure to focus your casts. Spots with shade, like lily pads creating a canvas where fish can stay cool underwater, are the perfect areas to find fish and focus your casts. Though don’t forget to hit the edges of the structure first and work your way in. There may be fish looking out into the open and not towards the middle of the structure. Get them first and then look for more fish deeper inside.
It’s All About The Retrieve
When you’re fishing with a classic fly pattern like a topwater popper you have to start with the classic pop, pop, pause retrieve. When it comes to speed, keep things constant from cast to cast, at least at first. Keep your twitches throughout the whole cast the same power and length and keep your pauses about the same length during the same cast. This allows bass to track your fly like a quarterback hitting their receiver. Once they can’t take it any longer they’ll slam it.
If you don’t get hits start switching speeds, varying the number and power of twitches and pops and also the length and number of pauses during each retrieve. Some anglers even let their fly sit for a full minute before popping again. Once you start hooking up make sure to note the pattern of retrieve that worked, then you can continue to replicate it throughout the day and stay on the fish.
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