Nothing beats a big bluegill smashing a topwater bug. Poppers and floating bugs are many anglers preferred way to fish when the conditions are right. This certainly holds true for me; I love using topwater flies when the fish are looking up. Unfortunately, the constant march of the seasons has put off top water fishing for panfish until spring, at least in my part of the country. So if I can’t fish these flies, I might as well tie them.
A favorite of mine is a fly I have named the Gum Drop Slider. The fly gets its name from the unique hook and body used to create this fly. The fly is designed using a floating jig head called a Gum Drop Floater. These floating jigs, made by the Northland Fishing Tackle Company, are available in three sizes that will allow you to create flies to fish for panfish to largemouth bass and everything in between. The bodies of these flies are made of a soft foam which allows you to quickly add rubber legs by pulling them through the foam body with a needle; something I often do on larger versions tied for bass.
This fly is incredibly simple to tie. Just add your tailing material of choice, add legs if desired and you are done! With the panfish sliders pictured here, a simple tail made of marabou with a saddle hackle collar was used. As I mentioned earlier, I often add rubber legs to these flies, but I was out of the small diameter rubber legs I prefer to use when tying the panfish version. The bodies are pre-formed and pre-painted, nothing could be more straightforward! The jig heads are available in three sizes and quite a few colors. You can find these floating jig hooks online or in a well-stocked fishing department of your local sporting goods store.
The fly has a subtle action in the water. It darts and slides on retrieve which drives fish wild. It is a fantastic fly to use when the fish are in extremely shallow water and may be spooked by the loud chug of a cup faced popper. The smallest jig head makes an excellent slider for large panfish and bass. The two larger sizes make fabulous bass bugs. The small size also works exceptionally well on smallmouth bass in the small rivers in my area. These fish average 10-14 inches and are often put off by larger flies. This little slider darting across the current is irresistible to them.
The Gum Drop Slider is a good pattern for the beginner fly tier to try. Anyone can lash some marabou to a hook and wind on a saddle hackle. The result looks like a well-made fly, regardless of your skill level, thanks to the pre-formed and painted body. Give them a try!
Hook: Northland Gum Drop Floating Jig #4
Thread: 6/0 Uni in a color to match tail
Tail: Marabou in color of choice
Collar: Saddle hackle in color of choice