Oh boy! When bass start to look up and patrol just below the surface it’s time for bass popper flies! Fly fishing for bass with poppers is probably one of the greatest and addicting forms of dry fly fishing.
As the heat of the spring and summer drive bass closer to the surface, get your bass boxes ready for some fierce strikes and wild fights with these tips for fly fishing poppers for bass.
Where To Look For Bass
When you’re looking out onto the pond, lake, or river it can be hard to figure out where to cast for bass. While bass travel in pods and often cruise around patrolling the banks or ledges, your best bet is to pick out some structure or shaded areas that would provide them some cover from the hot sun and predators. Take notice to disturbances and ripples on the surface that would signal fish activity.
Large rocks, fallen trees, logs, and dock posts provide great places for bass to patrol in hopes of ambushing prey. Low hanging branches, aquatic plants, and lily pads provide shade from the summer sun and some cooler water.
For more places to look, here is another resource for finding fish in stillwater and moving currents.
Let It Sit
The key to enticing nearby bass with an easy meal is patience. When you make your cast, don’t immediately start retrieving it in. When your popper hits the surface, pause a few moments. Give bass some time to focus in on your fly and swim over to investigate what just plopped in their territory.
There is a good chance they will strike during your pause or right as you make your retrieve. It could be that they realize that their food is making its exit and their feeding instincts kick in. Time and time again, this tactic works.
Often times if you toss it right on top of them and strip it in like a bat out of hell, you’re going to spook them.
Retrieving The Popper
The retrieve is the most important part of enticing bass. It is all about the repeated movement of the popper that drives their instincts crazy. The basic popper retrieve is a classic ‘pop, pop, pause.’ It’s totally up to you on how long your pause or how fast you ‘pop’ your fly. Just keep it consistent and it’ll drive bass nuts!
If you are not having any luck, try changing up your retrieve. Speed it up, slow it down, pause longer or shorter — try new things until something works. You may even find that from day-to-day you will need to change your retrieve up based on the conditions.
Now, the trick to getting a good and loud ‘pop’ that moves tons of water is to keep your rod low and have the tip nearly touching the surface. This drives your popper down into the water as you strip it. It’s almost more of a controlled snap of the arm down that begins with a quick tug and, shortly thereafter, an immediate stop that will dig that popper into the water and cause a commotion. Not only that, the faster and harder the tug you give the bigger the pop. However, in my experience, it’s not always in your best interests to cause a minor explosion by tugging as hard as your arm can go.
5 Best Bass Popper Flies
These bass poppers come in a range of colors. The critical thing to remember is which shade of color to use and when. On dark and overcast days use dark popper flies. The dark color contrasts better with the sky. On bright and sunny days with clear visibility use bright colored popper flies.
See more of our favorite bass popper flies, streamers, and more here.
These foam poppers are great for long hours chasing bass on the water. Look for water that is more open to the sun and along deep pockets. In the heat of the summer, target the edges of shaded water and aquatic vegetation. The weed guard will help prevent any unwanted snags.
This bright colored popper is excellent on sunny days with clear visibility. An unsinkable bass popper fly for predator-rich streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
These popper flies push a ton of water and cause a commotion sure to gain the attention of nearby bass. The rubber legs extending out the sides pulsate with each ‘pop’ or strip through the water.
Modeled after frogs, large terrestrial bugs, injured bait-fish, and damselflies (prime bass food), patrolling fish can’t pass up the almost perfect frog/damsel fly silhouette.
Deer Hair Bass Bug: Dancing Frog
An excellent frog pattern made from spun deer hair perfect for searching around weedy structures for bass, panfish, pike, and walleye.