Popper RiggedThis past weekend saw the W.F.F. casting to warm water species on a lake in Northern Wisconsin. I was struck by the difference between the still water environment compared to the stream/creek environment I am so used to. We arrived Friday afternoon and after setting up the tent and getting settled I rigged a Black Popper and started swinging from the dock. There were several patches of lilies and I attempted to get the popper as close to them as possible without getting hooked, I did get it stuck quite a few times though. Having never fished a popper I questioned my approach, should it be stripped in hard and fast, once in a while made to pop? I tried both and after a bit I hadn’t gotten very far, the dog was begging me to let her go swimming distracting me from the bass that came up and smashed the popper less than five feet from the dock. I had stripped it in close to my feet and left it in the water when my dog came a whining. I heard the strike and instinctively set the hook and I was surprised to find that I hadn’t lost the fish.  I played it for a minute before landing it from the dock, I took pictures and released it.Wading the Lillies1st Bass On a Fly RodHaving to make dinner and get things for camp ready I put the stick away to try again at a later point and that did eventually happen. I tried the popper in and around several lilies all weekend, near downed trees, near grassy areas, any place I saw fish jumping of which there were many. I wet waded the sandy sections near lily pads enjoying the feeling of the water, not often am I submerged to my waist and swinging, it made me feel more connected to be in the water. Several turtles made appearances near me while fishing which was cool to see but after three days and several attempts I had yet to reproduce a fish. I tried different color poppers at different times of day with different styles of retrieve and nothing would bite. I’m glad I got the opportunity to spend time near the lake and work on fly fishing for other species of fish, a goal of mine I plan to continue.Smallie On The Popper


  1. Cool smallie. Pauses in the retrieve of a popper are key, I think. Some authors say you should let it sit for a minute after casting. I think you should vary your retrieve and just see what works. Insert some pauses though. If I need to do something in the canoe while I’m popper fishing I make a point of putting the popper out there, retrieving it half way and then letting it sit while I dink around. Many strikes that way.

    If popper action is not super, try fishing clousers. Smallies will crush minnow patterns, in my experience. Or black buggers, etc. Something subsurface though. My general formual for BWCA: poppers at the first and last hour of the day, clousers in between.

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