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The Backstage Pass

The Best Saltwater Poppers for Fly Fishing

June 01, 23

When it comes to saltwater fly fishing there is nothing more addicting than watching a massive fish blow up on a topwater fly being stripped across the surface of the water.

Tarpon, redfish, and other salt species are nothing like trout sipping dry flies off a placid tail out in a river, they are apex predators intent on securing their next meal, and when the conditions are right, they will ferociously take a topwater fly.

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Topwater salt flies come in a variety of styles. Poppers plug along the surface, creating disturbances that imitate a panicked baitfish, and divers float on the surface until they are stripped—then dive below the surface before floating back to the top.

Here is a list of topwater patterns to include in the box for your next saltwater fly fishing trip.

10 Topwater Salt Patterns

1.  Banger

The banger is a great saltwater pattern for stripers, jacks, and barracudas. The fly triggers a reaction from predatory fish as it is stripped along the surface. The fly move of water extremely well with its large foam head.

#2/0, 4/0: Silver, Chartreuse

2. Disco Shrimp

This gurgler-style fly is a great pattern for targeting baby tarpon, snook, and sea trout. The fly moves a bunch of water to imitate a fleeing shrimp, which is enhanced by a rattle to add further commotion.

#02,04: Tan

3. Crease Fly

The crease fly is the ultimate popper for saltwater fishing. It will catch most saltwater species that will take a fly and is a great imitation of a floundering baitfish near the water’s surface.

#1/0, 3/0: Black Back, Blue Back, Fire Tiger, Olive Back, Silver

4. Gurgler

The Gurgler is a versatile fly that can imitate various prey depending on location and species. The fly can catch tarpon, stripers, and bluefish. Pop it along the surface with a floating line or fish it with a sinking line to make it dive.

#3/0: Chartreuse, White, Black/Yellow, Blue/White, Black

5. Megalopsicle

The Megalopsicle sits right at the surface of the water and stays afloat by stripping the fly. The Mega was made for tarpon, it pushes lots of water with its large profile as it moves through the water. The bead chain eyes keep the wake of the fly consistent.

#1/0: Chartreuse/yellow, Dirty Olive, Purple/Black, Tan/orange

6. EP Topwater

The Topwater shrimp is tailor-made for shallow saltwater fishing. The fly is gurgler-like and creates a commotion on the water’s surface. The shrimp variety of the fly includes eyes that help the fly mimic a fleeing shrimp.

#2/0: Shrimp, Chartreuse/White, Black/Purple, White/Yellow

7. EP Diver

The EP diver is a great option to target tarpon on the surface. When stripped the fly pops under the surface of the water creating disturbances on the surface, alerting fish that food is nearby.

#2/0: Chartreuse/Black, White, White Devil

8. Umpqua Saltwater Popper

A classic popper that works well for fish keying in on baitfish forced to the surface. This pattern works well for trevally and jacks or any aggressive saltwater predator.

#2/0: Red/White, Blue/White, Chartreuse

10. Rainy’s Trevale Popper

This popper does it all and is a great addition to the box. Giant Trevally, striped bass, bluefish, redfish, and jacks all love the action of this fly. At 6 inches long the Trevale is a surefire way to attract the attention of lurking monsters.

Where to Go For Topwater Popper Action

This list of flies will help get the adrenaline pumping when an aggressive fish erupts on your fly, there really is nothing quite like it.

Yellow Dog offers a variety of saltwater destinations that cater to this method of fishing. Target massive redfish in Louisiana or tarpon, snook, jack crevalle, and trevally in tropical destinations for a chance at hooking a saltwater trophy on a topwater fly.

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