Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Adventures in Popper Making

The other day, while my wife and I were rambling around the Smokies, we made a stop in Townsend, Tennessee at the local fly shop where I intended to pick up some more material to tie streamers with. Of course, being a fly shop, I had to look around a little bit at all the different tying materials. I can honestly say I'm not much of a shopper at all, but put me in an outdoor store or a fly shop and it might take me a while to get out. In the course of looking around, I ran across a display of popper tying supplies. Tying my own bass and bream poppers is something that I have been meaning to learn how to do, and I figured there was no time like the present. Before it was all said and done, I had picked up enough material to tie several different colors of poppers.
My 2nd Attempt - After the Pink Popper Incident

Once we got home from Tennessee, I was anxious to give popper making a try. Up until this point, I had been buying all the poppers I fished with, and just about the only flies that I had ever tied to use in warm water had been the Triple Threat streamers that I used for smallmouth fishing. After doing a little Internet research and looking at the directions that came with the popper bodies I bought, I set out to give popper making a shot.
Yellow Popper

Right away, I was treated to some new experiences, such as the fingernail polish aisle in Wal-Mart. I had read on the Internet that clear fingernail polish with glitter worked well as a sealer for the finished poppers, and that Sharpie markers were handy to use to color the bodies. Armed with that knowledge, it was off to gather materials. I took my wife along with me for two reasons - number one, I wasn't sure I could even find the aisle with the fingernail polish, and two I figured that if she was with me it wouldn't raise as many eyebrows. She thought the whole thing was hilarious, and kept threatening to tell everyone that I was in Wal-Mart shopping for nail polish. Once that ordeal was over, it was off to the vise to give tying poppers a try.
Green Bug

The next thing I learned very quickly about tying poppers is that it takes Zap-A-Gap about .000002 seconds to bond my fingers to the foam popper bodies. After a few sticky situations, I started to get the hang of gluing the bodies on and keeping my fingers off. I also managed to eventually get my fingers all unstuck from each other and functioning again, but it was touch-and-go for a while.
Blue and White Popper

One last thing I figured out on my first attempt was that if I didn't give the marker enough time to dry, my white popper with a red face would turn into a pink popper with a red face with the first application of nail polish. I know that I've got long way to go with the learning curve on popper making, but it's fun taking on a new challenge. Now if I can just get my fingers unglued from this keyboard!

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph


  1. Florescent Leopard Frog pattern mini-popper/chugger works here when there is enough light.

    Yours are nice, mine probably came from China.

    I think I average 4 casts before these sink way down.

    1. Thanks Reverend Fowl! I've got quite a few of those poppers like you mentioned too. I've had luck on those Leopard Frog pattern ones here as well, but like you said some of them tend to sink after a few casts. I haven't had a chance to field test the ones I've tied yet, but I'm hoping to hit the river soon.

  2. Those look really good. I tried making a few before. I actually still have most of them. It's a crazy rush catching a fish on you tied. I still have a hard time trusting that they will work. The ones you tied are really nice. I'd fish any of those in a heart beat.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Kevin! I'm looking forward to giving these a try, I love catching fish on flies I've tied myself, but other than a few bass on streamers, they've all been trout.


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