When the massive run of silver salmon come pushing past our camp each year at Alaska West (that’s late July through August in our neck of the woods), one of our favorite ways to target them is with poppers. That’s right, the same type of poppers you may have chucked near the lily pads on your local pass pond (except they’re pink, of course).
Silver salmon close to the ocean are extremely aggressive, and under the right conditions, the violent surface disturbance of a popper can often entice the most aggressive fish in the pod to eat.
However, retrieving a popper correctly takes more than simply stripping the fly as you would a streamer. Strips should be short and abrupt in order to produce the loud ‘popping’ noise characteristic of a popper. Many anglers fishing a popper for the first time often make strips that are too long, causing the fly to ‘drag’ through the water, rather than ‘pop.’ So how do you make sure your fly pops consistently on each strip? Try the following technique..
1. Point Your Rod Tip at the Fly. Keeping your rod tip too high will cause the rod to bend ever so slightly on each strip, before moving your fly. Start the retrieve by pointing the rod tip directly at the fly to allow for the most control of your fly.
2. Draw Your Line Tight. The more slack in your line, the less action of your fly. Start the retrieve by drawing your line tight to the fly.
3. Snap Your Wrist. As your line becomes taught to the fly, make an abrupt ‘snap’ with your wrist by turning your wrist in a down and outward motion.
Continue the retrieve by repeating the ‘draw and snap’ as the fly moves towards you. By snapping the wrist, you should be able to perform quicker, and more consistent ‘pops’ throughout the retrieve than a traditional streamer strip.