Bluegill on Poppers

Aggressive topwater takes

bluegill on a popper fly pattern topwater
Big male taken on a popper over a weed bed.

If you've spent any time at all chasing the biggest-little-fish, the ubiquitous bluegill, you've no doubt seen their tendency to attack flies, fish and even an unlucky Go-Pro here and there. So when you can find them in a surface attack mode, it can be some killer fishing. The big guy featured above was taken from a group of fish that was swimming in and out of some weeds and were not shy about hitting whatever invaded their space. 

The fun thing about bluegills is when they're looking up, they aren't usually too picky about what they hit. I have found times where color and size can make a difference, so I usually come prepared with a variety of poppers and foam jobbies (like the foam dragon featured here and shown below). Really any dry fly can be a good bluegill pattern, but I usually fish with poppers because they can drum up the attention of fish that might be closer to the bottom.

foam dragon bluegill fly pattern popper topwater

I also like to spend a little extra time "prettying" up my poppers (not that the fish care). Rainy's makes some good foam popper bodies and you can do crazy stuff like airbrush them.

airbrushed bluegill popper foam
Some masking on the airbrush job

Not that there are any real secrets to fishing for bluegill with poppers and other dry flies, but leave the trout mentality at home. You may not see any fish feeding on or hitting the surface, but if you know there are bluegill in the area, don't be shy about throwing on a popper and giving it a whirl. Weedless poppers can also come in handy if you're fishing to weeds, moss or mats.

One common misconception is that you should use a smaller weight rod to go after these fish. And yes, while you can have fun catching them on 3 and 4 weight rods, the versatility you get from a heavier 5 or 6 weight rod (like the Sage Bluegill rod shown below) can sometimes come in handy when you tie on bigger flies or have to pull fish from the moss or weeds. I'm often throwing bluegill poppers into very weedy or mossy areas and need the bigger guns to get the flies where I need them. But that's just me.  

Not quite sure what it is about pursuing these little guys, but they grow on you. Maybe it's the way they expend every ounce of their energy for the first few seconds as they perform the side-ways back and forth "pull me in I'm a big plate" routine. Either way, especially with some topwater action, they're a fun fish to target and you can find them all over the country.