of warm water
flyrodders of the 30's and 40's were: the "Flash Skitter
Bug", "Special Popping Minnow", "Snake Doctor",
mice, frogs, and "Peck's Floating Feather Minnow", At
the peak of the business, Peck's Chattanooga company annually
sold about 300,000 bass bugs and flies which were handmade by
nearly 100 employees. Peckinpaugh catalogs included hints to anglers,
handy knots and fishing advice as well as descriptions of products.
'"Peck" attributed his great success to his adherence
to true to nature idea and manufactured actual replicas of insects,
minnows and other fish foods. His standard was the welfare of
the angler and he believed that "they could not have good
sport with lures made of cheap materials hastily put together,
because they will not stand up to fishing for any length of time."
passed away in 1952 at the age of 68. His son John, took over
the business, and eventually in 1980, the original company was
purchased by Tony Accardo and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Accardo-Peckinpaugh Company still uses the same design and
techniques "Peck" utilized and they still adhere to
the same formula for success. High quality American workmanship
and materials have produced reliable and durable bass-catching
poppers since 1910. It is re-freshing to know that bass pursued
by high-tech professionals into the twenty-first century are still
as vulnerable to this old standard as ever before. Since bass
fly rodding is an American tradition, it seems fitting that this
great old favorite is tied right here in the U.S.A. by Ameri-can
warm water fly fishers are familiar with poppers, and know generally
how to fish them, but the bugs are a lot more versatile than most
anglers realize. To unlock the full potential of Peck's Poppers,
start with selecting the right outfit. When fishing one of the
two dozen color combinations in sizes 6 and 4, a seven weight
rod is an excellent choice. Size 2, 1/0 and 2/0 are best cast
with an eight or nine weight outfit. Choosing the right rod facilitates
casting accuracy, which is a critically important aspect of bass
bug fishing. Very often, a few inches will determine whether the
presentation is accepted or rejected. Casting wind-resistant poppers
with an underpowered rod is difficult and open loops even with
a more powerful rod are generally not possible.
Choosing the correct popper size can be extremely important. While
it is good advice to let the bass tell you their preference under
the particular conditions you are fishing, there are some rules
of thumb to help make the selection. Generally speaking, the smaller
the water, the smaller the popper. A five acre farm pond would
call for a size 6 or 4. The reason for this particular case has
nothing to do with the size of the fish you expect to catch, but
instead relates to the size of the splash-down created by the
bug and the amount of commotion created when action is initiated.
A more subtle presentation is necessary for smaller waters. The
smaller sizes are also an appropriate selection when very calm
conditions exist. In still waters big disturbances can scare the
scales off the fish you're trying to catch. Smaller is also better
when you have the potential of catching smallmouth bass which
usually prefer a daintier offering. Sizes 1/0 and 2/0 are the
best choices when prospecting for big bass in large lakes and
rivers, especially with a little chop on the surface. Unquestionably,
larger bass prefer a larger meal. It's simply a matter of energy
expended vs. calories ingested.
bass feeds almost constantly, but the really big ones feed only
once in several days. Large bass lay nearly dormant for long periods
of time, digesting their previous meal. When the next meal is
finally ambushed, it will probably be large enough to keep the
bass for another long stretch. That ex-plains why we don't get
the chance to catch lunkers very often, and also why our choice
of popper size is so important.
Too many anglers
think popper presentation only involves causing the lure to "pop"
and that the action is imparted by sweeping the rod tip sideways.
Both assumptions are incorrect. Inducing the "pop" should
be caused by stripping line rapidly. When the rod tip is yanked
to the side the angler creates slack. Even if a bass strikes,
the chances of a positive hook-set isn't very good. It is far
better to keep the rod tip low and pointed directly at the bug.
The volume of the disturbance created by the popper depends on
the speed and length of the strip. This should be controlled and
matched to the conditions.GeneraHy calm, clear water calls for
a gentle"pop", whereas broken water or stained water
may need a more vigorous retrieve.
It is also
a good idea to vary the pause between pops to stimulate the fish's
interest. Sometimes long periods of stillness will be irresistible
and the strike will come either during the rest period or upon
the slightest twitch. At other times, an almost continuous action
gives the impression of an escaping meal which cannot be ignored.
Frequently, making the lure "quiver' can attract fish that
can't be r?ised any other way. This technique must be accomplished
on a relatively short line with all slack removed. By gently shaking
the rod tip horizontally the lure will shake slightly causing
small ripples to appear without moving the bug forward. When recasting,
be certain to remove all slack from the line and lift your offering
from the water. Those flyrodders who don't cause a disturbance
that is sure to send any fish in the area scurrying for deep cover.
It is a common mistake.
There have been a multitude of innovative new bass fly-lures over
the past decades. Most fishermen are fascinated with each new
concept and it is easy to get away from old standards that have
stood the test of time and bass. The old cork popper can be as
versatile as the modern angler's imagination. Getting acquainted
or reacquainted with Peck's Poppers will put more fish on your
line and more fun in your bass fishing. [An earlier version of
this article originally appeared in the Summer, 1994 FFF Quill