Tap's Popper Bass Bug (The Original Deerhair Bassbug)

This version of a deer-hair popper is very similar to the first popper that H.G.Tapply designed for fishing smallmouth and largemouth bass. As it is retrieved across the water surface the vertical front of the fly makes ripples in the water and a popping sound as it bobs up and down which attracts the fish.

Tap's Popper Deer Hair Bassbug - The original bass bug


BB13 Taps Original Popper Bass Bug Hook Size 6   - Quantity: 
BB13 Taps Original Popper Bass Bug Hook Size 2   - Quantity: 

H.G. Tapply or Tap Tapply to his friends wrote a column called "The Sportsman's Notebook" plus six "Tap's Tips" for 'Field and Stream' every month for 35 years. That added up to about 2,500, fifty word 'tips' plus nearly 500 articles on fly fishing, fly design and fly tying. Millions of outdoorsmen considered Tap as their wise and trusted advisor. When asked he always said "Oh I'm no expert." He invented many flies. Everyone was designed to solve a particular fly fishing problem. His deer-hair bass bugs were intended to sit comfortably on a medium weight fly rod, to float like corks, and to kick up a strike inducing ruckus on the water surface when retrieved. He tied flies that would catch more and bigger fish. He invented a deer-hair bass bug popper that still cannot be surpassed. It is a model of simplicity with its wedged shaped tightly-packed spun deer-hair body and flat faced front. It makes a plop and gurgle noise on the retrieve as the flat head is forced through the water. It casts like a bullet. It became known as 'Taps' Bug. Tap did not name his bass bug. Others assigned his name to this style of deer-hair popper.

Tap was self taught. Tap tied flies for his non tying fishing friends. He tied files commercially for a while in the 1940's but the profit margin was so small for the amount of work that he stopped. Tap carried on tying flies for friends well into his 80's. He had been caught by the fly fishing bug quiet badly in by the mid 1930's. Commercial flies were too expensive so he decided to teach himself how to tie flies. There was only one published beginners fly tying book back then. It was called 'How to tie flies' by E.C. Gregg. It's instructions were not as clear as they should have been. After figuring out what the author was trying to explain Tap began a life long fly tying and fly fishing passion. As he still could remember all the difficulties he had when he first started tying he decided to write a clearly written step by step manual for beginners called 'The Fly Tyer's Handbook'. It first appeared in 1940 and reprinted in 1949

The early European settlers of North America noticed that the local Native Americans practiced an early form of bass bugging to catch dinner. They used a long pole with which to throw out on to the water surface a collection of hair and feathers tied in a buoyant bundle which they then dragged across the surface of a warm water lake, pond or creek. Bass Bugging is not new. In the 1800’s only a few bass bugged. In 1900 no bass bugs were made commercially, but between 1910 - 1930 the sport really started with lots of assorted bugs on being offered for sale in magazines and tackle shops. Bass bugging became unfashionable just after world war two but regained popularity again in the 1970’s.

Why use deerhair bass bugs and not the hard-bodied plastic, metal or wood bugs. The heavier a bass bug is the harder it will hit the water and the noise can spook the fish. A Bass has a sensitive mouth. A bug made of soft clipped deer hair will nearly always stay in a fish’s mouth longer than any metal lure, plastic or wooden hard bodied bass bug. This makes it easier to set the hook. I normally count to three to allow the fish to close its mouth and turn away before setting the hook. When your bug disappears in a big splash of water after a bass attack do not raise your rod tip as you would do to hook a trout. Keep your rod pointing at the fish and give the line a hard pull. When you can feel the resistance give another pull. Then you can haul up the rod using your whole arm not just your wrist. This puts the road at the right angle for the fight that is about to start and drives home the hook. If you use a hard bodied bug you need quick reflexes to hook you fish before your bug is spat back out for being inedible.

When the wind is stirring the water surface up into mini waves I like to tie on a big loud bass bug that will attract the fish’s attention. My favourite is a popper style bug In flat calm shallow water when I do not want to spook the fish by a heavy landing fly I cast a soft bodied round faced bass bug pattern.

When I have to cast to holes between lily ponds, under bushes that are overhanging or among the roots and branches of a tree where the bug cannot be moved too far in one direction I like to use a pattern that has lots of legs and feathers. A design that will vibrate and wriggle when I give it the slightest twitch. When fishing over sunken weed beds or deeper water I like to use bugs with long tails that move under the water whilst the deerhair body floats on the top.

Bass bugs will take anything that looks alive and will fit in their mouth. They seem not to take much notice of the color of the bass bug. It is the movement that counts. If you are having problems locating your darker coloured bass bug during dusk or in dark wooded locations use a brightly colored bug. The bass aren’t color prejudice. They will eat anything. Use a bass bug that you can see on the water like the Tap's Popper bass bug fly pattern.

I love your deerhair bass bugs. This is why I keep buying them. Yes foam and cork poppers last longer but I have a traditionalist attachment to deerhair flies. Why? Well they do have some advantages. They can be cast and landed as loudly or quietly as you want onto the water surface and they are soft in the predatory fish’s mouth like their natural food. I remember reading an article by Lefty Kreh when he said that the colour of bass bug poppers is not as important as the way they are cast and fished. Any attention grabbing colour would do and he favoured white yellow and chartreuse. I agree with him 100%, Mitchell Meechan, Kentucky

The original bass bug

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