The North American Fly Fishing Forum

The North American Fly Fishing Forum (
-   Warmwater Fly Fishing (
-   -   poppers won't pop? (

jjsacid 08-21-2012 01:37 PM

poppers won't pop?
Hi, I am looking for help/tips on poppers. When I got my first cheap fly rod package it came with a small popper with feather tail and I found some old ones my dad had. They had small flat faced bodies with a tiny bit of feathers and fairly large hooks. I was able to easily get them to pop with bubbles on the water and a nice sound and caught a lot of bass and sunfish. Anyway I ended up losing them.

I got a lot more different poppers with flat and cupped faces but I can't seem to get any of them to pop consistently (if at all). They usually just dive under. I can't seem to catch much of anything except sunfish on the initial splash. Some of the poppers even sink? I used to use 4lb ice fishing line as a tippet and now use either 8lb fluoro or mono. I have even tried perfection loops which seem to help a bit but nothing like it used to be.

I know a lot of people say small movements and such but I can only catch bass by popping and would really like to figure out what happened? I've also tried cutting off feathers and rubber legs to make some look really similar to what worked less the larger hook.

What am I doing wrong and what happened? Even some fairly big cupped poppers I got seem to dive under more than anything. I'm also not sure if I mean popping or gurgling? I need a noise like a pop with bubbles on the surface of the water. Should I try gurgler flies instead? Sorry for the babbling and all the questions but I really miss my good old days and should be getting better instead of worse. :icon_redf
thanks -jared

navycop10 08-21-2012 01:54 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
Are you striping the line with your rod tip high (about eye level) or low (pointed toward your fly)? I had a similar problem, and it seemed to work a lot better if I held my rod tip up at about a 45 degree angle and make very short (3 or so inches) jerks with my stripping hand. A short snap of the wrist is all it took and this helped keep the slack out of the line better than trying to make it pop with the rod tip (bait-casting style).

bigjim5589 08-21-2012 02:29 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
Jared, I agree with what navycop10 has suggested, that's very similar to how I fish poppers most of the time. One thought, if the poppers you're using have a lot of paint build-up around the hook eye, essentially turning them into a slider, that could also be part of your problem particularly when they're small & have a flat face. I've shaved away paint with a utility knife blade on poppers to rid them of excess paint & open up the hook eye. They end up looking like heck, but the fish don't care about the paint anyway.

I've seen many commercially produced poppers that had that problem, simply because they're often dipped in paint and hung up so that the excess drips from the hook eye.

Another thought, is your line tip sinking any? A floating line that soaks up water into the tip end will often pull a popper under, because you get the same result as using a sink tip line. You want to be sure your line is floating. Your leader can sink some, as long as it's not sinking deep, but the fly line, because of it's weight, should not. If the line is sinking, then you need to use an appropriate line dressing (the line maker should recommend one as not all dressings are compatible with all lines). Of course, I'm making the assumption that you're using a floating line, which you should be. :rolleyes:

I've been making my own for many, many years & seldom have issues with them popping.

If possible, post some pictures of the poppers your having problems with, perhaps that will help diagnose the issue.

ditz 08-22-2012 11:34 AM

Re: poppers won't pop?
I noticed that you said that you were using flouro leaders or tippets. Flouro sinks which is not desireable for surface fishing. Also years ago most poppers were made from cork. Today many are made from several types of foam and they don't all float like cork and will act differently in the surface film. Balsa wood was also used but to a lesser extent. I used to make a 1/4" diameter popper on a size 12 hook that had a cupped face and if you jerked hard with the rod tip low and started with a tight line it would pop loud enough to scare every fish in the lake. I don't use them any longer. hehehehe:o

piscatorial_phd 08-22-2012 12:35 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
As a purveyor of fine flyrod poppers (Jamison Lure & Fly Co.), I can tell you that while I make all sorts of poppers, I still prefer flat-faced cork poppers for a subtle yet effective "pop" for freshwater gamefish. The hard foam, deeply cupped face poppers that I also make are a little overkill for me. In fact, I have seen big bass spook when I pop the foamies.

Sure they look better, and are slightly more durable, but the cork floats better, lands on the water better and I tend to catch more and larger fish.

Just $0.02 from an old popper designer.:fishing:

jjsacid 08-23-2012 01:24 AM

Re: poppers won't pop?
hey, thanks for the tips and advice. I just got a new rod/reel combo 5wt tonight which I need to try out. :) I used to use a cheap martin 5wt with the old poppers and then slapped together an 8wt ebay special that is probably too heavy. Hopefully I can relearn how to pop and catch some fish again. ha I still like catching bass on clousers/buggers but nothing beats the top water poppers for me.

navy- I usually pop with rod tip itself with a gentle pull and try to keep the rod lower to prevent pulling the popper out of the water.

jim- some of the betts poppers I have do have too much paint but I don't think I have even tried them yet figuring they'd just dive. the tip of my line has been sinking pretty bad on my 8wt and a little on my cheap 5wt, but once it does I usually give up trying to pop anything. these south bend famous poppers are the closest I can find that are like the ones I had success with.

dit- I do use fluoro now but its a pretty short piece and I had same problem with mono. I'm guessing now material was what made the difference. I thought those were balsa or other light soft wood but I couldn't say unless the cork is different from whats used in a rod handle. I agree with scaring them as I see it happen when I do manage to pop them now, before it just seemed so easy and gentle.

pisc- the old ones I had seem like you describe and looked really rough. they also had a large hook relative to I see on most of them now although the south bend poppers aren't tiny.

piscatorial_phd 08-23-2012 07:54 AM

Re: poppers won't pop?

Originally Posted by jjsacid (Post 478913)
pisc- the old ones I had seem like you describe and looked really rough. they also had a large hook relative to I see on most of them now although the south bend poppers aren't tiny.

You probably have some of those cheap Chinese bugs that I've seen in convenience stores, or on eBay for $19.99 for a card of 100. If the hooks don't bend then they rust and break. Not good at all.

jjsacid 08-23-2012 02:51 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
piscatorial- I've seen those on ebay I don't think they were the same. They were in my dad's 'junk' and could have been more than 30 years old, they were at least 15. They looked well used and old but I don't know of any fly fishers in my family or where they came from.

shotgunfly 08-23-2012 05:56 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
I've had the same thing happen even on expensive poppers (bought from Orvis) and even some of those booglebugs ($5 a pop--er). Occasionally I'll get a bad cast in and end up getting a rubber leg caught in my tippet so the popper doesn't sit right in the water. It looks okay but when I start to strip it, it sinks rather than pops. Sure enough when I get it back I look at it and it's a bit tangled. Wonder if that could be an issue for ya.

jjsacid 08-28-2012 11:38 PM

Re: poppers won't pop?
I took my new 5wt out and tried some popping. Moving the knot so the line points more down really seemed to help. I had a lot more strikes.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:46 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
2005-2017 The North American Fly Fishing Forum. All rights reserved.