How To Tie A Double Barrel Popper Fly

If the Surface Seaducer Double Barrel popper heads sound good to us humans imagine how good the deep acoustic chug sounds to a fish that is keyed in to destroy most things that don’t get out of the way quick enough.

We’ve fished these heads for many seasons now and have refined what works best, not only for the kingfish but for ourselves also. Here are a few tips on how to tie Double Barrel Poppers and a few more on how to effectively fish them.

Loon Outdoors Products For Tying Double Barrel Popper Flies

1) Use A Bushy Material For The Tail

This will help anchor the fly better in the water surface and stop the fly skating and dancing upon the retrieve, especially handy when the conditions are a little choppy. Having the popper sitting tight in the water gives you a better shot at making some noise.

2) Faux Bucktail Acts As A Tail Stiffener

Tie a short section into the centre of tail roughly half the tail length. This will give some structure to the tail section and help prevent dreaded tails wraps, one of the most frustrating things to happen when presenting to fish and needing the first shot to count.

3) Once Tail Materials Are Tied In

Take 8-10 wraps around material at base – use Loon Thick UV resin to secure and maintain upward angle. There’s a lot to be gained from this simple step.

  • The upward tail angle will see the cupped popper face sit higher and angled back, giving you a far more aggressive chug.
  • The hook will keel far better and help stop the rolling motion, this gives you a better walk the dog type swimming action   
  • Tail wraps are nearly eliminated – BUT always check your flies, no matter what

4) Cut Tail Materials At The Eye

This gives more circumference to glue the surface seaducer double barrel popper head on – ensure the hole in popper is minimal, done right you almost don’t need any glue. Use a thick super glue, Loctite powerflex is good, twist the head as you slide it on to get that glue well bedded and make sure the head is sitting square to the hook before it sets up.

5) Don’t Choke The Gape

The more hook available to find a home in the mouth the better. Keep the hole through the head as close to the bottom as possible and you’ll see more solid hook ups and less heart break.

King Tide Salt Fly Double Barrel Poppers for Kingfish
King Tide Salt Fly Double Barrel Poppers
Tauranga ray riding kingfish caught on a King Tide Salt Fly Double Barrel Popper fly
Another Kingfish That Couldn’t Resist A Double Barrel Popper

Five Tips On How To Fish A Popper Fly

1) Try An Intermediate Fly Line

When fished on an intermediate line with fluorocarbon the upward angle of tail makes the cupped face sit high and grabs a good chug of air when stripped, having the leader sink below the water tension will cause a bigger tip of the head and consequently more noise. Kingfish love a good deep acoustic resonance, this will pull them in from deeper or further away. Try the Airflo Flatsmaster, easily the workhorse of our operation and a very versatile line for many conditions.

2) Pause The Retrieve

Wait for the fly to resurface before next strip, the kingfish don’t mind – in fact we often hook them while static. Your fly won’t grab more air if it’s underwater already. Part of the knack of pulling deep lying fish up is to also create a big visible smoke trail, the silhouette of it against the sky gives the fish something more to dial in on.

3) Mix Up The Retrieve

To catch the fish you must think like the fish, or something like that. Try being the crippled little fish that is an easy meal but struggling its hardest to get out of danger.

4) Surface Seaducer Double Barrel Popper Head Size Recommendations

Here’s a rough guide to sizing rods and hooks to the popper heads.

  • 8wt = Medium head, 2/0 SL12s, 4mm 3d eyes
  • 10wt = Large head, 4/0 SL12s, 6mm 3d eyes
  • 12wt = XL head, 6/0 SL12s, 8mm 3d eyes

5) Squash The Barbs

It’s good for everyone involved, the fish sometimes suck the flies down deeper during the chaos – don’t be afraid to reach right into their mouths to rescue a fly. We’ve retrieved poppers that float back to the surface after a bust off so know they get spat very quickly so another good reason to go barbless. Plus writing up incident reports sucks, pull the fly out, lick your wounds, have a laugh and fish on.

Ray Rider Kingfish
Ray Riding Kingfish of The Tauranga Harbour

What’s Happening In The Harbour Right Now

There’s some really good fish in the harbour and inshore on Trevally schools currently, certainly giving myself and punters a lot of excitement as often the later season models are very healthy yet cunning. Cross paths with them when they’re feeding hard and you’ll enjoy some world class fishing with a true unsung hero of New Zealand’s saltwater fly fishing.

If you want to take advantage of the quieter flats with less people around over autumn then get in touch, there’s still plenty of fish action out there with a few more of the bigger, badder boys kicking around to make life interesting.

Luca Allen and a nice Tauranga kingfish on fly
Lucas Allen Practicing What He Preaches

King Tide Salt Fly Rattle Popper x Manic Tackle Project

Another essential fly for targeting Kingfish on top water. The humble crease fly with a few twists. Check out Manics article below on a few key construction points and how to fish it. www.manictackleproject.com/king-tide-salt-fly-rattle-popper/

The Rattle Piper

Wondering what flies to use on New Zealands flats Kingfish? The Rattle Piper takes its fair share of Kingfish every season.

Like it or not a bit of acoustic burley can really fire up most pelagic game fish, particularly our New Zealand Yellowtail Kingfish.

kingfish flies, salt water fly, rattle piper, tauranga
A handful of Kingfish candy. New Zealands kingfish find the Rattle Piper hard to resist.

The Rattle Piper came about as a way of trial and error, much like most flies out there. Nowadays I prefer grey over off white and mostly tie them in the average sizes found in Tauranga Harbour (approximately 180-200mm). It represents piper, otherwise known as gar and also nick named kingfish candy by local livebaiters. Click this link for a previous post on piper. Something I picked up while livebaiting one night was their tendency to click, this noise is yet another trigger within the fly and should not be overlooked.

fly tying, piper, kingfish candy, salt water flies, new zealand, flats fishing, sight fishing, fly rod
Hustler bag of the highest grade kingfish crack.

I tried adding rattles to my flies years ago with varying success. Glass ones kept smashing and I needed a way to tie them in stronger, quicker and stay inline. The plastic variety and some heat shrink now being preferred options for longevity and ease of use. Other triggers I’m a firm believer in are the slightly exaggerated eyes, two toned colour scheme, some red under the chin and the little orange UV spot at the end of their beak. This beak also adds some length to the fly and enables the fibers to be kept rearward, supported by the rattle they tend to tail wrap less in this manor.

Kingfish, fly tying, salt water fly fishing, collingwood, new zealand flats fishing, fishing guide
Rattles rigged and ready for fibers to be tied in.

The noise created can be amplified or dimmed depending on retrieve. Quick stop/start strips will see the bearings hit the back then roll forward as the epoxy head dives on the pause. Or for a more subtle action keep a steady pace and the balls will stay back yet still create enough noise to be picked up by nearby lateral lines. At times just the commotion of it hitting the water will induce an eat so be ready from the get-go. Especially if there’s some competition for the fly amongst kingfish.

Kingfish flies, loon outdoors, fly tying, tauranga salt fly, new zealand fly fishing guide
Rattle Piper curing after a head of Loon thin UV epoxy added.

Thankfully for you these are now available via Manic Tackle Project at most good fly fishing stores. Go pick a few up and try them out on our mossy backed, yellow tail thugs. You might just enjoy teasing them into a savage boat side eat that will be etched in your mind for years to come.Kingfish, boat, salt water fly, guide, new zealand flats, fly rod, salt water, fishingBoat side eats are the best.

That’s a wrap

That’s a wrap. A term used to signify the closure of an event or season. But since Tauranga’s season doesn’t seem to be quite over I’ll apply the phrase to those pesky tail wraps some larger fly patterns tend to acquire. 

Over time my top fly patterns have been developed and adjusted to suit the many factors required in everyday fishing. To me durability, practicality, castibility and some other key assets are always top of the pile. 

Tail wraps are a (insert cuss word here). While they can’t always be avoided they can be mitigated during the tying process and best avoided with some slick casting. 

Something I’ve found key is to build an internal core that will support the more supple fibers without compromising movement. Faux Bucktail is now a firm favourite for this task. A few thread wraps tucked under the fibers near the bend or solely around the fibers themselves adds to the value. 

Faux Bucktail, the best thing since sliced bread
SF fibers perched upon Faux Bucktail ready for more layers

Building heads that hold their shape also allows the fly to keep itself in order. Anything more than a third of total length may prohibit action so be mindful of this and also not restricting the gape of the hook. 

I’ve been a huge fan of Loon Soft Head for this purpose for a long time, recently I’ve tried Plastidip also and found this to be just as good. Although it takes a while to prep and better suits finer material. A light head of Senyos Lazer Dub will be enough to cover the other synthetics nicely and bind the adhesive better. 

The water pushing head and initial air trapped inside the front cone will get the attention of any super predators nearby. Nothing says eat me like the noise of a bubble trail. 

Masked eye and hook ready for a spray

There’s other tricks out there also such as building mono tail guards and using shorter tails so it is really a case of finding what suits your fly. Another quirky trick I picked up while twiddling a fly cruising the flats is the dreadlock theory. As most of the flies I tie and use are synthetic they can be twisted at the tip to lock the fibers up a little and stop wayward hook wraps

Dreadlock the tips, great time killer while on the water
Finished product ready to swim

With all these things now going in your favor it leaves more time for fishing and less time untangling or even worse throwing twisted, matted flies away. 
The countdown is on for the new season now, although there’s still a few to be caught between low pressure systems. With 16c water and lots of bait it comes as no surprise there’s still a few stragglers about. 

Piper, Garfish, Hyporhamphus ihi, Halfbeaks or Ihe

Call it what you want it’s also known as kingfish candy to a lot of sea fisherman. At this time of year we have big numbers of piper seeking refuge around the eel grass (Zostera muelleri) in the shallow sand flats of most New Zealand harbors. 

Our cunning Yellowtail Kingfish are well aware of this and that is why my go to fly normally resembles a piper of some sort. Subtle colour variations are rarely needed but it does pay to carry a few options, not only in colour but also size. With an average size of 200mm but micro or larger sizes always present it pays to mix things up. 

1/0 Mini Pipe

4/0 Olive Piper

The infamous Rattle Pipe