9 Great Popper Flies

green frog popper bass sunfish panfish trout rubber legs hackle pop paint painted head foam

Popper flies are one of the most fun ways of catching fish. Panfish, bass, trout and an amazing variety of saltwater species will all take a poppers in the right conditions. Poppers can range from very tiny bluegill poppers, to very large poppers for targeting striped bass, tarpon, and even sharks.

I’ve gathered a collection of some of my favourite poppers from other fly tyers and lure makers around the web. I’m not receiving any sort of incentive to share these with you, and am just showcasing some really unique, creative, and fish-able patterns.


Bunny Strip Popper

Rabbit Tail Popper Bass trout panfish bunny fly lure tying diyThis popper was tied by John Welch over at onthevise.com. It’s a nicely proportioned popper and the rabbit strip adds some nice motion and density to the tail that you don’t often see in poppers, and offers and alternative to the usual popper tail of saddle feathers. John provides a material list and steps to tie this popper on his site.


Square Head Foam Popper

Foam popper fly marabou saddle hackle flash pike bass trout panfish

This is a fun looking popper from flyfishjeff.blogspot.com. The collar of marabou around a tail of saddle hackle and flash along with the square foam head combine to make a very colourful fly that you just know has great action in the water. This is one of those poppers that would work well in larger sizes targeting species like striped bass, pike, and muskie. There’s some great stuff over at Jeff’s blog, it’s a shame there hasn’t been an update in a few years.


The Bluegill Bug

Beginner panfish popper easy to tieThis little creation comes from The Jersey Angler. It’s a pretty easy to tie popper, and the rubber legs give it that movement that is so irresistible to bluegill and other panfish. I’ve tied a few of these myself and am excited to try them out. Tying instructions can be found here.


Square Body Balsa Wood Popper from J & M flies

poppers got fly fishing lures tying bass panfish balsa wood brookThis is a pattern from the extremely talented tyers over at J & M flies. Every one of the flies shown on their site is a work of art; I would (almost) feel bad chucking one at the end of a line! It’s my understanding that their flies are painted by hand, and are available for sale.


Foam Popping Hopper

foam popping grass hopper terrestrials flies fly tying fishing brook rainbow trout bassThis is one of the nicer hopper poppers I’ve found. It’s a simple to tie, clean looking fly. In smaller sizes this fly would be perfect for panfish and even trout when grasshoppers are around. In larger sizes, I’d imagine it’s would work well for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass as well! Dronlee over at Fly Tying Nation has a very good instructional post on how to tie up one of these hopper poppers.


Ear Plug Popper

Ear plug foam popper cheap budget fly tying trout bass lure

This little popper is unique as it uses an ear plug for the body. The foam is soft, easy to work with, durable, and best of all it’s very cheap! I love finding cheap sources of fly tying materials, and using an ear plug for a popper fly is something I hadn’t thought of before. Brian have a good instructional post on how to make these poppers over at examiner.com.


Packing Peanut Popper

gurgler popper bass bluegill panfish foam packing peanut tying lure

This is a fun little popper not only to fish, but to tie as well. The name comes from the fact that it looks like one of those white foam packing peanuts you find in storage and shipping boxes. There’s a great step by step tutorial over at allthingsflyfishing.blogspot.ca for those interested in learning to tie one of these poppers. In the previous link, there’s proof that this fly works, and it’s shown catching a few nice smallmouth bass.


Tradd’s Deer Hair Popper

bass deer hair popper dense largemouth smallmouth

This is a awesome looking deer hair popper from traddsflies.blogspot.com. The dense hair means this thing must float like a dream, and the generous amount of rubber legs give it fantastic movement in the water. Tradd has a material list over at his blog, and many other well tied flies. His site is great to browse patterns looking for ideas.


Chummy Popper

Red deer hair popperThe chummy popper is another pattern from onthevise.com. It’s tied on a 8/0 to 10/0 hook with the intention of targeting sharks. It’s broad, dense profile ensure it attracts attention, and I imagine the pattern could be downsized for the majority of us that don’t have resources to go fly fishing for sharks.

Poppers are one of those baits that straddle the line between being a lure and being a fly. While there are poppers that are definitely lures, the ones in this list are flies. I myself prefer tying deer hair poppers, but that’s just because I love spinning deer hair. Aside from deer hair, balsa wood, cork, foam, and even sandals can make excellent popper heads.


  1. Howard Levett

    Hi Ben, thanks for stopping off at Windknots. This is the first visit for me at The Jighead, but I’m pretty impressed. I’m primarily a trout fisherman but still love the opportunity to fish for bass and bluegill every so often. I’ve never used poppers before but I sure like what I see here. I do have some Zazzy Pops that Owl Jones made for me that I’m anxious to try.

    1. bensmckinley@gmail.com (Post author)

      Thanks Howard,

      Zazzy pops look like cool little poppers, I’m sure in smaller sizes they’d be excellent for bluegill. Trout and bass would likely take them in larger sizes as well.

      I’ve had luck with brookies on poppers around here after dark, but I usually use deerhair poppers.

  2. John

    Right away I recognized the work of Jeff at J&M in that first pic. You’ve presented a decent cross section of tyers and poppers. I’ll have to try tying that popper hopper.

    1. bensmckinley@gmail.com (Post author)

      Yeah, he’s pretty distinctive in his design style.

      That popper hopper has a neat little trick for hiding the tag ends.

  3. Bill Turssell

    Amazing all the different types of poppers on the market now. I can remember growing up there were only a few selections to choose from. The selections you have presented are impressive; nothing like seeing a monster bull gill inhale a popper, especially when the spawn is going. This may sound crazy, but give me a 14 oz. bull gill on a 3 or 4 weight verses a two pound bass any day on the fly. I guess that tells you how much I love to land these fish in the early spring when they are spawning.
    I have added your blog to my list—thanks for sharing

    1. bensmckinley@gmail.com (Post author)

      Thanks Bill!

      Poppers are some of my favourite way to fish. Catching a fish on them is a real thrill.

      Thanks for adding my blog to your list! I’ve done the same.

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  6. Pảk

    Thanks ben!
    Good post.Keep your work

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