Historically, poppers have been one of the most productive baits for fry guarders because you can zip them into tight spots, make use of even a short retrieve lane and create the kind of threatening presentation that’ll send papa reaching for the 12-gauge. Most anglers prefer poppers with dressed (feathered) rear trebles because of their authentic action.
The soft material collapses with each forward tug and then slowly expands on the pause. This offers the allusion of a living, breathing creature that the fry guarder assumes is up to no good.
There’s probably never a wrong time for feathers, but this accenting strategy merits a few points of consideration:
Thickness: Medium density feather mass is most common, but for a bigger display, custom tie a thicker hook dressing. This will move more water and increase the perceived threat.
Length: If fish are short striking, trim the feather to just below the hook bend and you’ll often pull the fish closer enough for a hook set.
Color: White, chartreuse, red and white/chartreuse or white/red mixes are most common. With any, make sure you have a few strands of Mylar or Flashabou to catch the sunlight and add some realistic glimmer to your bait.