I hoped to get one of the big Bowfin I had seen 6 days ago in some patchy cat tail cover.
My 4/0 Bullet Dog Diver was getting hit by pike so I went with a less labor intensive 2/0 White Popping Wedge. No Bowfin but got this big Pike took it cast across a big pocket surrounded by cat tails. He hit while I was busy repositioning the kayak and letting the popper rest at the end of the retrieve. The 40 pound fluorocarbon bite leader held.
On the long paddle in the lee of the long dyke, I stopped occasionally where the shore cover or the weed patches looked good to prospect for bass, casting in the glassy calm along the rip rap edge. I found some stretches with mostly small bass 10 to 13 inches but some up to 17 inches. There were a lot more minnows, weeds and Bass (some larger size) than I have found on this shoreline previously.
After a long dry spell, I realized most of the better bass were only hitting the White Popping Wedge on a dead stick pause at the end of the retrieve. A lot of bass were probably not hitting it as I marched it across the surface with medium pops.
I tied on my one newly developed 2/0 Black Creature Popping Wedge Pattern. It was also not working until I found the next concentration of bass. The small ones seem to be taking it with a jolt, bigger fish were taking it in the retrieve and bluegills were actually getting hooked on it, for the day, 3 of them actually took the hook point of my 2/0 poppers into their mouths. I finished with 5 bluegills caught on 2/0 poppers.
I got a good hit from a heavy fish that took of on a powerful speedy run and cut my bite leader. It was likely another pike, maybe a big one.
A 2/0 Chartreuse Green Pooping Wedge seemed to take whatever bass happened to be around.
I also got the second big Pike after a hard fight. Farther along, the shoreline structure changed, there was a few yards of shallow edge before a drop off. Casting into that shallow cover was producing bass of various sizes, some surprisingly big to be in water that shallow. It's fun when you see that big wake heading for your fly.
In the "Shallow Corner", a new spot for me, I tried casting to open pockets and again some of the bass were nice sized. Some got off that I thought were bigger than any I had landed.
Without much luck, I tried some spots down the far dyke and a new spot, the "Deep End" which is only a little deeper than the surrounding water. There, a bigger bass also got off after hitting a big flashy 3/0 White Marabou Banger popper. I finished with 23 bass over 14 inches, and a few of them were 16 or 17 inches, 4 pike, two of them big.
Popping Wedges are tied on short shank hooks with a wide, short foam cylinder head where the belly is sliced off kitty corner at a bout 30 degrees. The front round face is standing up at only 60 degrees. The angled face makes the head dive an inch or so on each pop and quickly bob back up. Each pop shakes the tail assembly. Its made of long marabou, Flashabou and splayed rubber legs. The red rubber legs are best cut kind of short, more like external gills than legs. In the right colors it is a good pattern for ambush predators like Florida Snook, Baby Tarpon, Red fish and Sea Trout in the mangroves. In freshwater it is good for Large Mouth Bass, Pike and Musky in cover. Originally I fished it with only a few pops followed by 3 strips to make it dive followed by a pause long enough for it to bob back to the surface. Now I just march it a cross the surface in a steady rhythm of medium pops. Fish take poppers deeply and are often hooked in the gills. The Popping Wedge spends more time a bit below the surface so when the fish hits, it more easily gets sucked in deep. For my own use I now break the barbs off of poppers and my Foam Diver patterns.
- Popping Wedge
- Hook: Short Predator or Spinnerbait, Mustad 32606, Eagle Claw 253N
- Head: Wide Foam Cylinder cut short and at 30 degrees, face is angled back at 60 degrees 3/4" cylinder for these 2/0 hooks
- Eyes: Optional, Flat Stick On, use super glue
- Tail: Long full Marabou
- Colar: Compact turns of Wide Schlappen curved back
- Rubber Legs: Bright Red 3 to 5 center tied and splayed to each side (6 to 10 legs total)
- Flash: Reg or Mag Flashabou center tied, 3 to 5 strands each side. Matching or complementary colors, Dyed Pearl, Opal, Holographic
- Colors: Generally all materials one color: White, Chartreuse Green, Black, Tan, Purple-Pink head
- Cut the Heads to shape, poke the hook hole through about 1/16" (1.5mm) above the 30 degree belly cut.
- As you are building this Tail Assembly, keep checking that you are on track to be able to fit the head on the remaining unoccupied hook shank.
- Start the long, full Marabou Tail about 1/4 inch (6mm) back behind what shank the head will occupy.
- Compactly wind a Collar of 1 long or 2 short & wide Schlappen Hackles.
- Advance the thread 1/8 inch and center tie 3-5 Rubber Leg strands. Fold them back & tie them back to both sides of the fly so they splay around the top half of the fly, 9:00 to 3:00 oclock. Cut them wider than the schlappen, but 1/2 tail length or shorter, like external gills on a salamander or tadpole.
- Similarly center tie and fold back & tie back 3 to 5 Flashabou strands to each side of the tail assembly.
- As you are building this tail assembly, keep checking that you are on track to be able to fit the head on the remaining unoccupied hook shank. The rubber legs and Flashabou should take up near zero shank length when they are wrapped back up against the schlappen collar.
- Make a thicker Thread Base for the glue to hold the head on. Thick, unwaxed thread is good.
- Use a toothpick toSpread some Glue inside the hole in the foam head and also around the tread base on the hook shank. Twist the hook as you poke it through the premade glue hole, clean glue out of the hook eye with a clean tooth pick.
Broken Barb Hooks You cam just bend the barbs down. I break them off by bending them down at a somewhat sideways angle. This leaves a small gap under the bent down barb on one side. Poke