Standard Popper

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Standard Popper

Postby nielson » Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:59 am



When you think about bass on the fly, the popping bug is what comes to mind. It's a classic and comes in every shape, size, color and dressing imaginable. Many fly tyers consider their fabrication not in the realm of fly tying and prefer to buy them rather then spend the time putting them together. But if you're among the few that can't stand to fish with storebought, here's some ideas to get you going to make your own.

The popper in the photo is just one of many styles but chosen because it has the basic ingredients common to almost all popping bugs: a prominent body with a broad front face, a tail and a wrapped hackle collar.

Basic recipe:
Hook: Mustad 33903, kink shanked, sz 4
Body: Pre-formed hard plastic foam, painted
Tail: Calf tail
Collar: Wrapped saddle hackle

On popper Bodies:
1. Bodies can be bought or fabricated from raw materials.
2. You can buy pre-formed bodies made from hard foam, soft foam and cork. They are available in various sizes and shapes and most come pre-slotted. Typical shapes are: standard (as in the photo), long (sometimes referred to as pencil shaped), flat faced or cupped.
3. For those that prefer to make their own bodies, the typical materials used are balsa, cork (wine bottle and stoppers from the hardware store), and soft foam layered from sheet foam or cut from blocks (a flip flop shower shoe is a good basic foam source).
4. Hard bodies can be painted and some like to give them a coating of epoxy. Model paints work well and come in lots of colors. Suggest you stay away from water based paints even if you coat it with epoxy - if the epoxy chips off, you'll have a mess. Probably won't hurt the effectiveness of the bug but it will look awful.
5. Soft bodies come in various colors and can be further colored with permanent markers.
6. Soft foam bodies are preferred by many tyers because of their durability when fishing around rocks. They are also usually easier to cast because they're lighter than a painted hard body.

On hooks:
1. The classic popper hook is the kinked shank hook. It's made specifically for popping bugs. The kink helps the body resist rotating around the shank during hard use. It's pretty good at doing that. However, with the glues around today, super glue in particular, any straight shank hook works just as well.
2. Mustad 3366 or a similarly shape seems to work fine. A lot of folks use Stinger hooks.
3. The conventional wisdom on hook length is that it should be long enough so that the point of the hook extends beyond the end of the body. Supposedly, this reduces the chance of missed strikes. Use your own judgement.
4. Weed guards. Not a bad idea and you can always cut one off if it become a problem. Very difficult to add one once the fly is finished. You should consider tying a few up with weed guards to have when you are going to be tossing bugs in to surface vegetation.

On tails:
1. Just about anything you can imagine will work. The classic popper has hackle tails but they are not as durable as other choices.
2. Typical tailing material is squirrel, bucktail, marabou, the family dog, and just about any of the synthetic tailing materials available.
3. A little flash is often used.
4. A mixture of material is common: hair and hackle, marabou, rubber, etc.

On collars:
1. Some bugs don't have any collar at all. For a couple years I stopped putting collars on my bugs. I didn't notice any difference in their effectiveness but they looked funny.
2. Standard saddle hackle is classic for the collar but you might try something else. Bunny? Synthetics? marabou?
3. If you decide to use a collar, don't get wrapped around the axle on the size. Just do what looks good to you - it certainly won't matter to the fish.

Other ways to jazz up your bug:
1, The most common addition to a popper is rubber legs. Some guys won't fish a bug without them. Almost all store bought bugs come with rubber.
2. A few drawbacks to rubber legs to consider: 1) They make the bug a little more wind resistant and harder to cast, 2) They get torn off, look bad with a missed leg(s) and then cause you to lose confidence, and 3) If you don't maintain your fly box well, you'll find them stuck to the sides of your box.
3. Eyes: You can buy stick ons or glue ons or paint them yourself. Like rubber legs, some folks must have eyes on their bugs.
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