Targeting any species of fish with a surface offerings can result in some pretty spectacular strikes. Most predatory species, from the most finicky bream and bass to the usually aggressive GT and mackerel, will engulf a well-presented surface lure or fly.
The catalyst for the strike is the fish’s initial thought that a panicking or wounded food item is nearby and may be easy prey. This excites their predatory response mechanism and they will naturally strike the offering, often repeatedly.
This month’s pattern, the Soft Pop, is a simple yet effective surface popper. The softness of this pattern means that once engulfed, a fish will hold onto the Soft Pop much longer than they would a hard popper, giving the angler more time to strip-strike and set the hook.
Soft poppers are also much more likely to be hit repeatedly. If a fish misses them the first time, they will come back for seconds and even thirds until the hook is set. Hard poppers are often refused for a second take as the predatory species realises they are not real and therefore will shy away. Some fish will approach a surface offering with caution and may even nudge it a few times as a kind of inspection, before engulfing it.
The Soft Pop often produces results when other more rigid poppers are refused. It has proven its worth on trevally, bass, saratoga, tailor, tarpon, barramundi and many other species.
The Soft Pop has one key material that forms the majority of the body. EZ Body Tube is a Tiewell product that is available in several sizes and differing colours that make it great for air-head poppers (such as the Soft Pop), minnow bodies and bullet heads for larger streamer patterns.
EZ Body Tube is a woven tubing made from monofilament and flat mylar tinsel. It is almost like a larger version of the Gudebrod Butt Leader that is often used for splicing loops onto the end of fly lines. It expands and contracts, yet has enough rigidity to hold the desired shape while Soft Dip is added to toughen the profile. This coating also makes the Soft Pop head watertight, yet keeps the whole head soft and pliable. The tail is of Holo UV Pearl Sparkleflash, which has a good degree of movement and flash in the water and that great purplish UV highlight when exposed to the sunlight, a similar optic effect to that which a panicked or distressed baitfish emits.
There are differing kinds of this tubing available from various fly tying suppliers.
There is a very short list of materials used for this Soft Pop but there are a lot of other additives that will vary, customise or pimp this pattern.
Having some waterproof or permanent markers at your disposal will allow you to add some great effects. Red gill slits are one such prominent feature. The back could also be shaded to create that two-tone baitfish look or you could go the whole hog and totally colour and shade the entire Soft Pop head. I like to keep things relatively natural, so generally just tie and fish the Soft Pop as you see it here.
The tail material could be substituted with a different colour or even a different material such as Krystal flash, marabou, shimmerflash or hackle. Domed or 3D eyes would also make a difference. If you required the Soft Pop to be more audible, try attaching a Pyrex tube rattle to the hook shank before forming the EZ Body Tube head over it. Try adding a little glitter to the first coat of Soft Dip before applying the second coat for extra effect. There are lots of options for you to customise your own Soft Pop.
This pattern can be tied in many different sizes for varied target species. Like most poppers the Soft Pop is generally fished with short, sharp strips and varied lengths of pauses in between.
(1) Place the hook firmly in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot about 5mm back along the shank from the hook eye. Place the end of your length of EZ Body Tube over the eye of the hook, as shown, until it is just touching the hanging thread.
(2) Start wrapping over the end of the EZ Body Tube with the thread. Start with loose wraps and gradually tighten as you secure the end of the tubing. Whip finish and advance the thread down to near the bend of your hook. Turn the entire EZ Body Tube so that the white line is running down the side. Add a small amount of Soft Dip over the thread attaching the tubing.
(3) Now push back on the tubing, effectively turning it inside out. Push the entirety of the EZ Body Tube forwards a little to form the basic popper head shape as shown. The front of the head should be roughly level with the front of the hook eye. Part the rear fibres of the tubing so that you can tie it down with a series of wraps as shown. Whip finish but do not cut away the remaining thread.
(4) Cut a staggered length of Sparkleflash that is roughly twice the length of the head. Tie this in over last tie down point, spreading the Sparkleflash evenly around the hook shank. Whip finish and cut away the remaining thread. Coat the entire outside of the head with a thin coat of soft dip. Spread this evenly around the entirety of the tubing, plus a little over the tie in point for the Sparkleflash.
(5) Also add a little soft dip to the inside of the poppers cup face. You must ensure that you coat the entire head if it is to be watertight. Ensure that the hook eye remains free of soft dip to avoid problems later.
(6) Add a self Adhesive eye to each side of the Soft Pop head and then coat with a little Soft Dip. When this is dry (about 3-5mins), recoat the entire head and cup face with another coat of Soft Dip. Remember, the head must be made watertight, so take special care to evenly coat the entire surface. Once dry, the Soft Pop is ready to provide you with some awesome surface strikes and solid hookups.
|HOOK:||Mustad S71S SS size 2/0|
|THREAD:||Monofilament – fine|
|HEAD:||Tiewell EZ Body – large pearl|
|TAIL:||Tiewell Sparkleflash #205 holo UV pearl|
|COATING:||Soft Dip (x2 coats)|
|EYE:||Self adhesive – 3mm Glo|