November 15, 2014
[caption id="attachment_13162" align="alignright" width="297"] Bob Popovics (above) designed the Jiggy fly style to imitate injured baitfish. A cone head gives the fly a diving action that is deadly on striped bass and other inshore species. Photo: Ed Jaworowski[/caption]
For 30 years, Bob Popovics has tested materials and tying techniques on saltwater fly patterns. His innovations for inshore and offshore species have had a major impact on the sport because, like Bob Clouser's Deep Minnow and Lefty Kreh's Deceiver, they represent a tying style, not a precise recipe. Patterns like the Surf Candy, Siliclone, Bob's Banger, Cotton Candy, and others in the Pop Fleyes series can be tied with slight modification to match almost any baitfish in any local water. His new pattern, the Jiggy, is another conceptual design that is currently one of the hottest small baitfish flies on the mid-Atlantic Coast for striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito, and weakfish.
The name Pop Fleyes came about ten years ago when Popovics started to market his saltwater fly designs. The moniker was fashioned from a shortened version of his own name and the dominant eye on most of his creations, particularly his signature fly, the epoxy Surf Candy. Popovics spends endless hours developing new ways to create flies by adapting what he has learned through years spent on the water.
Tying a Simple Jiggy
Over the last few years, I've tied more Jiggies than any other fly design for three reasons:
1) they are universally productive,
2) they are widely adaptable to different baitfish imitations, and
3) they are easy and fast to tie. Depending on the color, length, and fullness of the fly, you can imitate effectively all the common Atlantic baitfish, including spearing, sandeels, mullet, killifishes, anchovies, herring, and menhaden.
Have fun with it. Play with the profile and try different materials. Tie it with bucktail or synthetic nylon, substitute different flash material, change the color to imitate a spearing or bay anchovy, or stack the hair, Hi-Tie fashion. Experiment until you find recipes that work on your water. The possibilities are endless.
The Jiggy rides hook point up (upside down), which keeps it from snagging bottom structure. The buoyancy of the hair and its resistance to sinking, not the weight of the cone head, turns the fly over and causes it to ride hook point up. The hair acts as a rudder and the hook as a keel.
During the retrieve, the cone makes the fly dive like a Clouser Deep Minnow, but because the placement of the weight is more to the front, the action is slightly different. You can adjust the fly's weight by using larger cones or wrapping lead on the hook shank and stuffing it into the cone head. The Jiggy's streamlined profile makes for easy casting, even in the wind. The dressings that follow represent variations on a theme.
A Jiggy Variation
To make a wide-body Jiggy that imitates larger menhaden or herring, tie in successive bunches of bucktail or hair along the top of the hook shank. Tie the first bunch of hair at about the middle of the hook shank. Add several more bunches until the shank is filled, adjusting the lengths to get the desired profile. If you use synthetic hair, use your scissors to shape the profile after completing the fly. In this case, a small tuft of hair is also added to the bottom of the shank to maintain the baitfish profile, but it is not enough to upset the balance of the hook. The larger amount of hair used on the top assures proper tracking.
Synthetic materials are more durable, come in a wider range of colors, and are often more translucent than bucktail. If you require any of these features, perhaps synthetic fibers (Super Hair is shown on far right) can answer your needs.
A new "Jiggy Head," designed by Popovics in conjunction with manufacturer Stu Dickens (www.eyesforflies.com;  884-3862), is shown in this version. These heads are proportionally heavier and put more weight forward for better jigging action. The heads have flat sides to accommodate the eyes (Orvis Cross-Eyed Cones are similar), which means the eyes are more realistically forward on the pattern. In addition, slight notches on the front of the heads allow them to snug up against the hook eye and prevent rotating. The hole is also larger, providing easier fitting over barbed hooks, and an inside cavity makes additional weighting possible.
Flexi Tail Jiggy
Purists might flinch at this concoction, but it is a deadly fly for largemouth bass and striped bass. When testing silicone Flexi Tails attached to Surf Candies at Montauk, New York, Popovics gave several samples to Lefty Kreh. Lefty had the best day of the group and commented that striped bass "raced ten feet to get at these flies." This particular fly works better with the heavier Jiggy Head than with a regular cone head, since the fly falls more quickly in the water, causing more tail flutter.
Use the same materials as in the other variations, plus a Flexi Tail (Rocky Mountain Dubbing through Umpqua dealers), a short piece of stiff 20- or 30-pound-test mono, and a wide Zonker rabbit strip.
Jiggy Fly Tying Recipe
Popovics has made two videos: Pop Fleyes and Masters of Fly Tying: Bob Popovics (Reel Resources,  683-5666).
Ed Jaworowski, author of The Cast, is a professor of classical studies at Villanova University. He's currently working with Bob Popovics on a book about Pop Fleyes. He lives in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.