I first started tying the Sugar Pop almost ten years ago while sitting around a table of men in a small hostel on the Thompson River in British Columbia. Amongst a table of black and dark purple feathers, I decided to try my luck with the more vibrant colors of pink and blue.
I grew fond of dubbing polar bear (arctic fox while I’m in the USA) in both the front and the rear of the fly as it helped it to maintain its body and volume as it swung through the current. With this dubbing, there was no collapse of encompassing materials, and the pulsating profile seemed to dance as it caught different rhythms and currents in the flow.
Throughout that year and many to follow, that same fly proved effective on several of the coast’s winter and summer streams; inclusive of the Thompson. I quickly became confident fishing the Sugar Pop and found it to be my “go to” fly.
Best fished as a swung fly, cast on a slight downstream angle and, without throwing an obnoxious mend, gently lift your running line (I use RIO’s Slickshooter when fishing Skagit heads, sink tips and larger flies), simply adjusting it upstream. One of the more common faults that I see as a guide is people over-mending and defeating the purpose of allowing their fly to gain any depth. From here, drop your rod tip slowly, maintaining the tension to your fly in preparation of contact with a tempted fish.
The long rhea (or ostrich) fibers flow as they meet the current and the polar bear/arctic fox doesn’t allow them to collapse. Tied in any color, this fly has proven time and time again to work for winter and summer-run steelhead, salmon and various other species. An interchangeable hook allows different hooks sizes to be used and replaced, lengthening the life of your fly so it may be used until it’s been destroyed by teeth.
Shank: Clipped 2/0 hook shank (Waddingtons or Tubes are also sufficient)
Articulated Wire: RIO knotable wire in 30 pounds
Hook: Size 2 Gamakatsu Octopus
Thread: UTC Thread in black
Rear Dubbing: Pink arctic fox
Flash: Ice dub
Wing: Blue rhea
Rear Collar: Blue teal
Body Wrap: Blue Flat Braid
Front Dubbing: Blue and pink arctic fox
Front Wing: Blue rhea
Front Collar: Pink gadwell
Cheeks: Jungle cock
I hope you find as many fish with the Sugar Pop as we have here on the coast… Happy fishing!