Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hopper Popper

Hook:  Mustad 3366 Size 2
Thread: Black Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail/Body/Head:  El Cheapo Sheet Foam
Legs:  Black Palmer Chenille
Legs:  Grasshopper Barred Sili-Legs

This is the Smallmouth Fly Box rendition of Kent Edmunds Tokyo Spider and Stealth Bomber.  Tied on a size 2 hook this pattern is built for the big boys.  It is very inexpensive to tie, floats all day and is extremely easy to cast even with a 6wt outfit.  I was out last weekend with a 6wt Ross FlyStik and had no problem casting this thing a mile (this is a big bug!). 

I like using large poppers for smallies, but sometimes they can hit the water too hard.  The Hopper Popper hits the water like a dragonfly or a maybe even a grasshopper that was blown in the wind.  I've had everything from big bluegills to northern pike hit this thing like a freight train.

Another beef I have with many top water patterns is the hook gap is too crowded.  Many fisherman resort to bending the hook out to increase hook-ups.  The practice of bending the hook may be necessary on bulky patterns, but there are no worries here.  The bulk of the materials on the Hopper Popper sit on top of the hook shank leaving the hook gap intact.

My blog entry Cork Poppers - Say No to Foam questions the durability of foam poppers and preaches the virtues of cork. Let's face it sometimes foam doesn't hold up well.  However, some simple steps can be taken to increase durability.  For example, I reinforce all thread windings and foam folds with Zap-a-Gap.  Sometimes thread windings nick the foam and a tear will begin to form ruining the fly after a few fish.  Zap-a-Gap creates a rip-stop bond that stops the initial micro-tear giving the fly a much longer lifespan.  The Hopper Popper can survive hard hits from dozens of fish and weeks of river fishing.

Once again we opted for the timeless (and inexpensive) Mustad 3366.  I have deviated from the 3366 to super expensive Tiemco and Gammy hooks, but always return to economical Mustad.  I have heard many people question the quality of Mustad hooks, specifically when it comes to sharpness.  This is when I usually ask if people sharpen their hooks on the river while they are fishing.  Most people I run into do not own a hook hone?  One snag and your fancy uber sharp $1 hook is dull as a Walmart bargain basement hook.  Use the 3366 and carry a hook hone.... 

This is a very versatile and buggy warm water pattern.  Inexpensive to tie, easy to see and cast, floats all day long and is appealing to just about every fish that swims.   Give it a try and I'm certain you'll be hooked.


  1. Doug-
    I'm glad it works well because that is one ugly fly. It looks like a double Whopper Burger!!(:

  2. Dick-

    This bug won't win any beauty contests, but it is an fun pattern. Talk about easy and cheap.... Sheet foam is $1 at the craft store and you can probably tie up 250 of these things.

    A Double Whopper for smallmouth!

  3. That's a pretty complicated looking bug. How about a video? It looks good though. Where I fish in Montana, bass haunts overlap with pike a lot of the time. Pike absolutely destroy foam. This year I'm moving over to preformed foam plugs because of durability.
    I also read the post on cork and those bodies from Tacklecraft look great so I may pile into those and give them a try.

  4. Hello WMumford-

    This is actually a super easy fly to put up. I haven't done videos yet, but I think I may give this one a shot.

    I tied up a bunch of new poppers with the pre-fab Wapsi popper heads a while back. The pre-fab heads sure make things easy, but if you fish rivers with pike and musky I would go for cork.

    I caught a small musky on this bug (Hopper Popper) last week and it was completely ripped to shreds. Foam is not for toothy critters.

    Good luck with the cork, let me know how you like them when you're finished.

    Thanks for posting a comment. It is great to see activity on the site!

    Have a great season and please check back soon for video clips.


  5. Bug may be ugly, but looks like it'll fish well.