Fly fishing.. for Bluegill?

So, when you think of fly fishing, do visions of beautiful mountain streams and foot long rainbow trout spring to mind?  They always had for me.  In fact, I had never really spent all that much time with a fly rod even when I was trout fishing (blasphemy I know).  But, that all changed several years ago when a friend and I went on a little weekend trip and did some lake fishing in a small boat.

I can’t really tell you why my threw his fly rod in with the spinning reels, catfish bait, bass lures, etc. but he did.  It may have been that he was already aware of the fun we were going to have.  I don’t really remember just now if we had that conversation or not.  But, if so, he was a wise man.

beechforkspAfter some mildly successful bass and crappie fishing in the morning, we pulled the boat back into a fairly small cove that was surrounded by hanging trees and a slightly rocky shore line to have lunch.  After we ate, we began casting around the area and got a few hits from some small to midsize Bluegill.  After seeing that there was enough room to cast, my friend mentioned that he was going to try his fly rod.  I looked at him as if he were crazy.

He then introduced me to a lure I had never used before in my life.  He called it a ‘popper’ and it looked to me like a fly that had just been neutered and was wearing a safety guard.  Now I am starting to be convinced that he is crazy.  He tied the popper onto his line and began working it into a wider and wider area with each back and forth motion of his fly rod.  Each time he would pull it back, there was a loud popping noise that kids often imitate with a finger inside their jaw.  Yep, he’s lost his mind.

That’s when I saw it…  Suddenly a fish rolled over the lure.  Breaking the surface of the lake in a sudden splashing that was exciting to watch.  Was it a bass?  Had we found another good bass bed here in this cove?  He worked the line back to the boat and I quickly realized that, no, it was a blue gill.  A blue gill that had hit the popper with as much excitement as I had ever seen any species hit a top water lure.  It had loved the popping noise and the action of the crazy looking neutered fly hitting the water.  Turns out it wasn’t the only one either.

For the next couple of hours we played the poppers all around this cove and several others.  At one point my friend even waded into the water for a better vantage point and (I think) make catching these pan fish seem even that much more exciting.

Today I love to use these poppers for pan fish and smallmouth bass on mountain rivers AND lakes.  So, the next time a friend brings out a lure or a piece of gear that you’ve never used for a certain situation, don’t comment until you see the results.


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