Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bass Popper Tutorial

It's been a crappy spring for dry fly trout fishing.  I've been struggling to find a reliable hatch and rising trout for two months now, minus a couple 30 minute spinner fall sessions.  Instead of the typical mayfly hatch-matching tying frenzy I get into this time of year I've moved on to bass.

Poppers are awesome to fish and equally awesome to tie.  There are many ways to create these things, even kits that come complete with hooks and shaped foam.  This year I tried a new (to me) technique when I found some cheap cork at a local craft store.  I made a few, caught some fish, and now I'll share how I did it.  You can click on the photos for a better look, and feel free to leave a comment with any questions about this fly.

Step 1:  Start with the corks and a razor knife.  Make sure it's a fresh blade. (kids should ask an adult for help!) 
Step 2:  Cut a channel out of the cork carefully.  Cut away from the fingers  with firm even pressure towards the table. 
Here's a detailed look at the channel... try and make it look like a V if you can.
Step 3:  Get a hook with a wide gap and tie some thread where the popper's gonna go.  Make the thread kind of sloppy and the glue will stick better.
Step 4:  Apply a little super glue on the thread, and in the channel of the cork.    Don't use too much or it will take too long to dry.  
Step 5:  Wedge the cork on there.  If you got the cash or the time you can UV or epoxy the channel.    
Step 6:  Let the glue dry.  If you do multiple poppers at once the first one should be dry by the time you get the rest done.
Step 7:  Get a bodkin to make a hole for the front legs.
Step 8: Poke the bodkin through (kids again should ask for help here) making sure you are perpendicular to the hook, level, and not gonna stab your hand on the other side.

Step 9:  Get some permanent markers, colors are up to you!  You could paint it too, but markers are cheap and dry really fast.  
Step 10:  Color that thing up, pretend it's a frog or just make it crazy.  
Step 11: Add some eyes if you'd like.  
Step 12:  Grab a threader and pick out some rubber legs.
Step 13:  Pull the legs through.
Here's a detailed look of the legs. 
Step 14:  Get some clear coat.  
Step 15:  Make it shine!  Special Note:  If the marker isn't completely dry the colors will blend a little (I like that), however some of the marker color will come off on the clear coat brush then back in the bottle (that's not that great).  You could drip a little on and apply it with a bodkin to avoid that.   
Step 16:  Add some legs however, and with whatever, you want.  You can do this while the clear coat is still a little tacky just be careful.   You can add another clear coat layer if you'd like once your done. 
Step 17:  Go fishing and enjoy!


mike doughty said...

great looking popper

e.m.b. said...

I have a bunch of wine corks laying around that I've been meaning to do this with! Thanks for the reminder....and these look great!

Luke C Photo said...

Appreciate it Mike!

Thanks e.m.b., let me know how they turn out!

HighPlainsFlyFisher said...

Great post , thanks for the tying tips. I was just telling a friend that I hated spending $5 on balsa poppers for the local farm pond bass , now I can just spend $5 on cheap wine and get a free popper to boot!!

bfly said...

Stellar post my friend! Making those dollars go further is huge when you are fortunate to fish as much as we do!

Pete Bella said...

Wow, its that easy. I've been thinking of tying a popper and this little jem is easy, kinda at my level of tying and time availability

GFP said...

"If you got the cash or the time you can UV or epoxy the channel."

I used Elmers wood filler. Take a bit of it and mix in a little water and it applies fairly easily. You do need to sand it down once it dries. After doing this to 50 popper bodies a few months ago I realized why people usually skip this step for flies they fish.

Nice work! Bass are awesome!

Luke C Photo said...

High Plains ~ Good plan and thanks for the comment. Those little corks I have on this post came in a bag of around 15 for $2 or $3 at the local craft store, another very cheap option, and they are the perfect size. They have smaller ones too for panfish.

Thanks Brian!

Good luck Pete, take your time with these and they are super easy and really fun to make!

Appreciate the tip Mike, and thanks for the comment and kind words... you really are the popper guru around here!

Kev2380 said...

Man oh man, my wife is going to hate you for posting this. =) I need to make these now.

Jessie Hollenbeck said...

Nice work Luke! Makes me want to hit up our local bass hotspot... Maybe this weekend?

Hopper Dropper said...

Just like great Aunt Lucy use to make. Nice!

Kev2380 said...

I finally tried tying these up based on your tutorial. Check it out.

jfred17 said...

Great tutorial! I haven't tried tying those yet but I will now! After a few bottles of wine of course.

jfred17 said...

So it has almost been a year, but I booked marked this tutorial cause I knew at some point I would try this out. Finally got around to it. Now I just have to get it in the water to see if it works!

Door Poppper Kits said...

These are very helpful tips. Thanks for sharing the procedures. More power!