9 must-have summer bass flies (including some you’ve never heard of)


Photo: Discount Flies


With a blunt or concave face that makes a little splash when it’s tugged, this venerable topwater fly has been fooling fish, and delighting anglers, for more than a century. In quiet water, poppers work best when fished slowly, with long pauses between strips. This lets the feather and rubber appendages float seductively, which often seals the deal. Largemouth are especially notorious for staring at poppers from short range, and for many seconds before finally engulfing them. Many fly anglers are surprised to learn this fly is also deadly in rivers, where a drift-pop retrieve can provoke slashing hits.

Traditional poppers are made of deer hair, but pre-shaped foam or cork bodies fish just as well, and they’re easy to work with. Just make sure the entire body is positioned forward of the hook point. Many poppers are incorrectly made with the body too far back, bocking the point and preventing hook-ups. Weedguards are optional, but I always bring a few weedless ones for throwing into lily pads and grass. Honestly, every part of this fly other than the body and tail is optional. It’s basically a platform you can experiment with, creating sleeker or bushier versions as needed.


  • Hook: Wide-gap, 2XL to 4XL, sizes 4 to 2/0
  • Tail: 2 to 6 saddle hackles
  • Collar: A few wraps of saddle hackle
  • Body: Foam, cork or spun deer hair
  • Legs: Rubber strands
  • Eye: 3-D, googly or prism tape
  • Weedguard (optional): 20-pound mono