Putting the POP back in popper flies.
This may be the most exciting time to be involved in fly fishing!
In recent years, fly fishing has rapidly evolved at an unprecedented rate.
No longer restricted to trout or salmon, fly fishing has become "anything goes if it's on the fly," with fly anglers now able to actively target and land virtually any species of freshwater or saltwater gamefish on a fly rod.
As fly anglers expand their horizons, the hunt for more species in widely varied types of fisheries across the world is rapidly driving the need for innovation in the fly fishing industry with specialized flies and equipment for enticing and landing these fish.
There's nothing like an aggressive fish absolutely crushing your fly on the surface!
One of the biggest growth areas in fly design is the development of next-generation topwater flies and fishing techniques to catch these non-trout species.
This is done primarily with various foam popper, slider, and diver flies, and anglers are quickly discovering this is one of the most fun ways to fly fish!
Using bass bugs on a fly rod to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass has always been popular, but innovative new styles and tactics for a wider range of species are rapidly being developed by fly anglers in many fisheries across the globe. Some examples include small, buggy foam flies for panfish and carp, larger size poppers for freshwater monsters like musky, pike and peacock bass, and specialized saltwater poppers for inshore species such as redfish and larger offshore species like amberjack and sailfish.
This progression led me to create the Surface Seducer® Double Barrel™ popper & slider body.
The Double Barrel is one of the first products in Flymen's new Surface Seducer® product brand, which will expand into a full range of modern foam fly tying products over the next few years.
My design goals for the Double Barrel popper & slider body were to create a better general-purpose, soft foam body that was easy to tie with and had features and functionality that would enable fly anglers to overcome the limitations of current products in the market.
It needed to be versatile in terms of function, colors, and sizes to tie a broad range of flies for all species, from panfish to sailfish.
It seems to me that the emphasis on having a loud popping sound (and action) has somehow gotten lost over time, and most popper bodies available to anglers today have either a very shallow cup face or no cup face at all!
To remedy this, my concept was to imagine the two round barrels of a double-barreled shotgun being merged together until they were almost (but not quite) a single barrel.
Merging both barrels together and tapering the body toward the rear gave the front of the body a broader and deeper front cup with an aggressive top lip, all of which combine for a bigger pop.
This design approach also created the multi-purpose versatility I was looking for. Not only can the Double Barrel be used as a popper, but it can be reversed and used as a slider-style foam bug or as a diving foam baitfish head.
One of the other unique features of the Double-Barrel is the recessed eye sockets. This takes foam fly design to the next level by enabling anglers to easily embed 3D eyes deeply inside the body and adding a coolness factor to every fly!
Foam flies are typically more impressionistic than realistic, so we created a set of striking new popper eyes in bright, attractor colors to complement the vibrant colors of the Double Barrel body.
Mix and match the new range of Dragon Eyes to make your flies really pop!
To complete the ultimate platform for fly tyers to build poppers and sliders off of, we created a range of Popper Hooks sized to match the Double Barrel.
The hooks are versatile and standardized so you can use them with other foam bodies and products available on the market.
Popper tying made easier for everyone!
One of the key overriding design goals for every Flymen product is ease of use.
Making a fly tying material easy to use and quick to tie enables even a novice fly tyer to create a fly that not only catches fish, but looks great!
Popper fly tying and fishing is a LOT of fun, but traditionally not many fly tyers ever get into tying poppers, which is a real pity.
Examining this further, I came to the realization that many fly tyers are simply discouraged by the traditional messy (and often time consuming) part of making poppers, i.e., the painting, the airbrushing, and the clear-coating battle with 5-minute epoxy!
For many fly tyers, gearing themselves up for this is a deterrent.
So how do we enable and encourage any fly tyer, regardless of skill level or time constraint, to easily get into tying poppers?
The solution is the unique way we have manufactured the Double Barrel that makes even the most basic, entry-level fly look fantastic!
We achieved this by molding (not machining) the Double Barrel in order to create a strong, smooth, and shiny surface in 6 bright, vibrant colors. This “popper skin” gives you a professional, finished-looking foam popper body straight out of the bag!
What does this mean? It means that at the most basic level, there is no requirement to paint, decorate or clear coat your popper! A fly tyer can simply mount a Popper Hook onto the body, add Dragon Eyes and some feathers for a tail, then go fishing!
Your fly will look great and you'll catch fish.
Making the entry level such a great starting point enables a fly tyer to easily progress into tying more advanced flies.
The next level of popper tying may simply be adding a clear coat to the foam body to make it more durable, using clear nail varnish or UV light hardening products like Loon UV Clear Fly Finish or 5-minute epoxy.
Because the colors of the foam are so vibrant, the clear coat alone makes it look like the popper is painted!
"The Ring Leader" by Steve Yewchuck.
The next level up from clear coating may be progressing into airbrushing, painting, or using permanent markers to decorate the body and then adding a clear coat to seal and finish the fly.
The sky's the limit… for anybody!
I encourage you to unleash your creativity in an exciting growth area of fly fishing that perhaps you haven’t tried yet.
About Martin Bawden:
Martin is the founder of Flymen Fishing Company and the head product designer. When not on the water “field testing,” he can be found tying at fly fishing events. Articles on his innovative fly tying products and fly patterns have appeared in various fly fishing publications.