How To: Pop-N-Fly Tuna Fishing #505

The Pop-N-Fly technique is a technique that allows anglers to present a small, light fly on a heavier spinning outfit. Small flies like the 4″ Tuna Rigged Protail Fly are nearly impossible to cast on a heavy spinning outfit. That’s where the addition of a large hookless plug comes into play. By tying your fly to a larger plug via leader connection, anglers can utilize the casting distance they get from a large plug to present a very subtle and stealthy fly. The Pop-N-Fly technique is especially deadly when tuna are feeding on very small forage.


Pop-N-Fly Rigging

To start fishing the Pop-N-Fly, you will need a handful of gear.

  1. Hookless Clear 7″ Charter Grade PopperThe 7″ Charter Grade Popper is super long casting. We choose the Clear color for the Pop-N-Fly because it’s as close as your going to get to an invisible presentation. The reason for removing the hooks from this plug is because this isn’t your primary lure presentation. The Popper acts as a form of transportation for presenting your fly. Not only will this Popper allow you to present a small fly, but it will also aid in attracting fish to your fly. The surface action given off by the popper grabs the attention of any near by fish, and puts their focus on your presentation.
  2. 4″ Tuna Rigged Protail Fly: The Protail Flys are designed to imitate micro-forage with an ultra-life-like swimming action and profile. Each fly comes rigged with an Mustad 8/0 tuna live bait hook, making it capable of handling tuna up to 100lbs.  This fly only weighs 7.5g, so casting them on a heavier spinning outfit is nearly impossible.
  3. Leader Connection: We recommend anywhere from 24″-50″ of  70-80lb fluorocarbon leader for your fly to popper connection. Since this is a presentation for finicky fish, we want to minimize the hardware as much as possible. That’s why we recommend a knot connection for this technique. A palomar knot connected to both the rear of the popper and your fly is all it takes to start fishing this rig. One thing to keep in mind is the longer your leader is, the harder it’ll be to cast your presentation.


Pop-N-Fly Approach

  1. Once the surface activity has been located, slowly motor to the outside edge of the feeding area, making sure to quietly approach the school.
  2. Make a long cast towards the outside edge of the surface activity.
  3. Use a slow, sharp twitching motion for surface popping action. Utilize occasional 5-10 second pauses for finicky fish.


  1. When tuna are spread out and holding deep working poppers on the surface can bring them up from the depths.
  2. Use a variety of retrieves from a slow pop and stop, to a fast “scoot” and walk the dog style retrieve.
  3. Protail Flies are perfect for traditional fly fishing presentations!


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