Wednesday, October 2, 2013

5 Tips for Tying Perfect Panfish Poppers

Fishing for bluegills with poppers on a late summer evening is a great way to wash off the stress of the work week and unwind.  And I would have to say that tying poppers has become very easy  due to the invention of popper bodies and hooks sold by manufacturers.  It is the one chance as a fly tier you can create a fly that will actually last all season long, and if tied properly, probably more than one season.  Here are a few tips I have learned along the way
1)  Tie them in large sizes.

The poppers sold in shops for panfish are usually too small.  This is a huge problem as the fish will usually eat the entire fly, and because bluegills mouths are so small, getting the fish unhooked with out damaging it or the fly is hopeless.  By going up a size or two, unhooking the fish becomes much easier.  Also, by increasing the size of the popper you will catch bonus fish like bass who would normally pass up a smaller offering.

I have recently been tying more pencil style poppers, and have been using  #4 Pencil Popper from Wapsi.  The body measures around 1 1/8" long, which is perfect for our purposes.  The long body also helps unhooking fish, preserving the life of the popper and bluegill.

2) Buy the body and hooks as a kit
I find the Waspi bodies and hooks absolutely great for tying poppers.  I know that there are a ton of methods to form the bodies, but I don't want to spend the time cutting foam or shaping cork when I could just buy them.  The hooks sold in the Waspi kits are really nice as they are humped shank which  prevents the popper body from rolling on the hook.  Again, this creates a much more durable fly.

3) Tie them in batches
Just like all of your fly tying, you should be tying poppers in batches.  The main reason here is that you are going to have to either zap-a-gap or epoxy the hook in the popper.  If you do it in batches, you can do it all at once and not worry about the glue or epoxy drying prematurely.

4) Keep the colors simple
You can paint poppers like Picasso if you want, and some of them do look great, but I want to spend my time on the river or lake, so I keep the colors simple so I can get out there.

5) Use a markers and a clear coat to "paint"
I like to use permanent markers to "paint" the poppers.  It just easier not having to deal with brushes and clean up.  After the ink has dried, add adhesive eyes to the fly if you didn't paint them on, and then coat the entire popper body with a clear coat of acrylic, polyurethane, or epoxy.  This paint will keep the ink from running, locking the sticker eyes in place, and overall creating a tougher fly.

Using these tips will help you create a more durable popper for panfish.