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The Miyawaki Beach Popper

Beach Popper
Designed by Leland Miyawaki

Front Hook:                  Daiichi 2546 Water #6
Stinger Hook for Trout: Daiichi 2553 Up Eye Octopus #6
Stinger Hook for Coho:  Daiichi 2553 Up Eye Octopus #2
Thread:                         MFC 3/0, UTC 140 or GSP (Tyers choice of Color)
Wing 1:                        Two Grizzly (trout) or Pink Hackle (coho)
Wing 2:                        White Polar Bear or Icelandic Sheep
Top Wing:                    Light Olive Icelandic Sheep
Wing Flash:                 Flashabou, Silver Holographic and Crystal Flash, Mixed Colors
Topping:                      Peacock Herl
Head:                          Rainy's Pee-Wee Pop (Trout), Mini Me Pop (Coho)

Although working flies subsurface is arguably the most productive tactic for catching fish few can avoid the allure of taking fish using a dry fly.  The dry fly has been the cornerstone presentation for river and stream trout since the dawn of fly fishing.  This allure also transfers to other species and environments too, as Beach Popper originator Leland Miyawaki can attest. 

Leland lives in Kent Washington. He has spent years pursuing Puget Sound cutthroat and coho on the fly.  On numerous occasions Leland observed cutthroat and coho slashing at and through schools of terrified baitfish at the surface.  This vision fueled Leland’s creative energy inspiring the development of his Beach Popper.  When targeting searun cutthroat and coho salmon Leland now fishes his Beach Popper 99.9% of the time. As Leland says, “With a popper, you’ll always have something to do as you work it across the water and best of all you get to see the grabs!”  As word spread of how well Leland’s Beach Popper performed it soon became a favorite of searun cutthroat and salmon fly fishers too, in both British Columbia and Washington state.

The business end of the Beach Popper consists of a #6 or #2 up-eye octopus hook connected to a 1 1/2 -2-inch loop of stiff 25 pound monofilament.  A stiff mono loop ensures the trailing hook doesn’t tangle with the wing materials.  Smaller cutthroat sized Beach Poppers feature smaller hooks and shorter loops while larger hooks and longer loops are best suited for coho.

As the six inch length of mono needed to form the trailing hook assembly retains memory for its time stored on a spool it can be finicky to work with.  On a recent fishing trip, good friend Barry Stokes and I were discussing the virtues of Leland’s Beach Popper and the challenge of dealing with curved uncooperative mono. During our conservation Barry revealed how he controls his mono.  Barry takes a common plastic drinking straw and stuffs it with as many individual lengths of mono as possible.  He then drops the mono stuffed straw into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then sets it aside to cool.  The boiling water removes any memory reshaping the strands into a package of straight, memory free, easy to work with mono. 

To build the trailing hook assembly double a six inch length of mono. Push the doubled tag ends of the mono through the eye of an octopus hook from the rear.  Pull the hook up through the mono loop and pull tight to lock it in place. Tie the trailing hook assembly at the midpoint of a short straight eye 1xl salt water hook so it extends back the required length and the octopus hook rides point up. Secure the trailing hook assembly forward.  Don’t worry about the quality of the straight eye saltwater hook as the bend will be removed from the finished fly. With the trailing hook assembly tied in and the tying thread hanging just back from the hook eye, fold the tag ends of the mono back over the shank and secure them back to the initial tie in point.  Trim the remaining tag ends and coat the thread wraps with superglue for added security.  Don’t worry about the thread color as it won’t be visible on the finished fly.  Just make sure the thread is stout. I favor super strong GXP.

The wing of the Beach Popper consists of two grizzly neck hackles, holographic silver Flashabou, mixed colors Crystal Flash and a white Icelandic sheep or polar bear wing topped with a sparse layer of olive Icelandic sheep and 2-3 strands of peacock herl.  The two grizzly neck hackles do an excellent job suggesting the barred markings common to many small baitfish.  It is important to stroke the two feathers together dull side to dull side so they flow together as one.  The grizzly saddles should not be tied in so they splay away from each other. 

The wing offers two material choices, white Icelandic sheep or polar bear.  Polar bear can be difficult to obtain and is a banned material in many countries worldwide.  Icelandic sheep has marabou like properties but is more durable.  When using Icelandic sheep for the wing Leland doubles the slender clump he trimmed from the hide butt to tip.  Once doubled, Leland cuts the clump at the doubled end forming two clumps.  He then strokes and twists the tip end, opposite to the cut doubled end, into a neat taper. Tie in, the now single tapered blended, clump at the midpoint of the shank and secure ii forward to form the wing.  Blend and taper the sparse olive topping using the same technique.  Leland’s twist and taper winging process works well, getting the most out of a section of Icelandic sheep. 
When building the wing it is important to confine the materials to the front half of the hook.  Remember, the rear portion of the hook will be removed once the fly is complete.  The thread covered wing butts serve as a foundation, helping to hold the Beach Popper’s unique foam head in place.
The signature head of the Beach Popper consists of a Rainy’s Pee Wee Pop or Mini Me Pop foam head.  The smaller Pee Wee Pop works best for cutthroat sized poppers while the larger Mini Me Pop is best suited for salmon poppers. As the foam head is designed to slide over a bare shank the popper hole may have to be reamed from the concave side using scissors points. After reaming the popper hole with a few twists of the scissors tip make a test fit.  Be careful not to over ream the hole.
Push the popper head over the hook eye and onto the shank over the wing butts so the concave end faces the rear of the hook.  It is important to have head in the right position so the Beach Popper behaves properly.  The rear angle of the concave end must slope down and away from the hook eye so the long side of the popper head is positioned along the underside of the hook. 

As the narrow end of the popper head faces forward, Leland freely admits that the Beach Popper is actually a slider.  Semantics aside, Leland Miyawaki’s Beach Popper is magic on cutthroat, coho salmon or any predatory fish with an appetite and disposition for slashing bait at the surface, in either freshwater or salt.

Tying Instructions

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