By: Adam Spence
If you love fly fishing for bass, then you love poppers. That’s just how it is. To me and other bass junkies, a brown trout who sidles up to your Elk Hair Caddis before delicately sipping it is nice and all, but it’s just not the same as a bronze missile launching itself at a mess of feathers, silli legs and foam. As the weather continues to warm, I find myself staring longingly at my topwater confidence fly: The Double Barrel Popper.
Primary target species: Smallies for me, but Largemouth will play the game too
Prime water to fish it: Shallow or deep, clear or dirty, the Double Barrel Popper will produce in all of the above. The type of water merely dictates the size of popper and the presentation for me. Shallow, clear water? Try a smaller popper and a little more “wiggling” instead of popping. The opposite can be productive for deep holes or dirty water.
How to fish it: I like a longer leader for topwater, generally in the 9′ range. Smallies aren’t particularly leader shy, but I taper them down to 10-12# mono. A lot of times smallmouth will hit on the pause or even on the dead drift, so the longer leader helps me to get a better drift. I don’t pop them all that much, or really all that aggressively. Instead what I’ll do is flick my rod tip up, almost like a mend, to give my popper a more subtle pop. I recommend popping WAY less than you think is necessary, but some bass like aggressive retrieves, so if slower isn’t getting it done, then some experimentation may be needed.
Action: Aside from the obvious popping it creates, the Double Barrel Popper offers a lot of subtle movement, depending on how it’s tied. Marabou and hackle feathers for the tail add some wiggle after the pop or with the current itself. Silli legs will also enhance your fly’s movement with some more wiggle. Instead of a lot of popping to get movement, mend or move your fly JUST enough so that only the legs move.
Color: Anything and everything. I have a wide variety of colors, but really believe the size is more important than the color in a lot of instances. If I’m not having topwater success, I’ll try a smaller popper instead of fixating on changing the color. At times, smallmouth will focus on a hatch of dragon flies, damsel flies, or flying ants, among some other insects. If that’s the case (and if you don’t have an imitation for that insect in your box), it may be beneficial to try and match color and get close to the right size with your popper selection