The silver salmon fishing is hot up at Alaska West this time of the year, and these fish are really aggressive towards the fly. Stripping a fly below the surface creates a jigging action that is hard for a Silver to resist, but one method that is often over looked is targeting them on the surface.
Surface fishing for Silvers is normally best done first thing in the morning. The most aggressive fish will be the first to hit, so before you dredge the depths, strip a popper across the top.
One of the best popper patterns that has come through our camp this season was brought up with one of our clients, Chuck Shepard. It is a jointed pink fly, with a popper head that he said he modified off of a Bob Clouser popper pattern. It is a fairly simple pattern but the swimming motion it has is hard to beat.
(materials and methods estimated by Jordan Sly)
- Pink 6/0 Uni Thread
- Straight-Eye Hook Size 2 (I used Gamakatsu SC15)
- Up-Eye Shank Hook (I used a salmon/steelhead hook that was just tumbling around in my materials)
- Straight-cut Pink Rabbit Strip
- Light Pink Estaz
- Tube Popper Head (about one inch in length)
- Pink Popper Paint
- Doll eyes
- 5-Minute Epoxy
- Put the straight-eye hook in your vise, and add a thread base along the shank.
- Wrap your thread back to above where the barb would be, and tie in the rabbit strip so a little over a inch hangs behind the hook. Wrap your thread forward and wrap the same rabbit strip forward once or twice depending on how bulky you want it to be, and tie off.
- Tie in the Estaz, and wrap it forward towards the eye of the hook, three to five times, until you reach the eye. Tie off and whip finish.
- This is the hard part. Cut the hook bend off of the up-eye hook, and feed it through the hook-eye of the fly you just tied. Use pliers and bend the hook bend up of the up-eye hook until it is touching the shank, creating a teardrop shaped eye on the back of the hook, creating a joint. This takes a little practice, but with patience it gets easier.
- Cut a slit down the center of the popper head, like a hot dog bun.
- Apply a thread coat on the shank hook, and whip finish. Coat this thread with Zap-a-Gap and slide the popper head onto it, and pinch. Cut a slight angle on the back half of the popper head.
- If you could not find pink popper heads, paint the head pink with your popper paint.
- Once the paint has dried, Zap-a-Gap the doll eyes to the popper head.
- Cover the entire popper head with 5-minute epoxy, and allow to dry. The easiest way to get a even coat is to rotate the fly while it dries. This epoxy adds a lot of life to the fly, and almost makes it indestructible.