Poppers- Natural or synthetic? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Poppers- Natural or synthetic?

Dble Haul
01-23-2003, 02:20 PM
For all of you popper chuckers out there.....

I used to craft most of my poppers from cork or balsa, but lately (last few seasons) I've found it very convenient to make the bodies from foam. Whether punching out from blocks or using the preformed cylinders for Bangers, I find it less cumbersome and cheaper. And I don't get wood chips or sawdust in the house. :p

There's even preformed bodies sold in kits with the properly sized hooks to accompany them. I haven't gone this far yet, but I believe that foam has found a definite place on my bench. And it's more durable than I originally thought. They stand up to pike, pickerel, and bass pretty well.

Anyone else using foam for their poppers?

John Desjardins
01-23-2003, 02:46 PM
How about the other natural - Deer hair?

I'd say that I'm a 90% foam, 5% Deer hair, and 5% Balsa (bought). The foam is just to simple to tie for me to mess with the others.

01-23-2003, 11:14 PM
I haven't tried any larger sized foam or balsa poppers, but I used some panfish sized foam poppers (store bought) and the bodies seem to break off of the hooks pretty easily. The hook wasn't set very deeply into the foam, so maybe that was the problem. Or maybe it was because I was catching some decent-sized bass and those tiny wire hooks would flex and pop out of the foam!

I used some larger deer hair poppers (also store bought) and they worked great until they got water logged. I had to keep squeezing the water out and/or switching poppers to let the soaked one dry out. Another problem I had was that the bodies eventually loosend up and started twisting on the hook shank. I was able to squirt some crazy glue in through the bottom of the hair, which solved the problem for a little while but didn't last too long.


01-28-2003, 04:43 AM
I like foam for salt and deer hair for fresh water. One thing I do to my hair poppers is to puy some water shed on them. Really makes them shed water. As for salt water poppers I prefer the raineys foam and tie them popivics style(bob's banger).:D[COLOR=darkblue][B][SIZE=3]

01-28-2003, 05:14 PM
Thanks Bob, I'll try the water shed on the hair poppers. I hadn't used any kind of dressing on them.


Pat Bahan
01-30-2003, 08:05 PM
Spongy type foam makes some great bugs, but if you mean real poppers (hard bodied) I have always preferred cork (well, at least for the last 40 yrs.) over hard foam heads. Actually, I think the foam is good in larger sizes, but I have not been satisfied with it in smaller sizes.
As for deerhair bugs, go heavy on the floatant.

Dble Haul
01-31-2003, 11:40 AM
Pat, I've used cork in the past but have moved away from it because of difficulties in shaping the material. It doesn't sand easily, and cuts tend to make the cork crumble a bit. Smooth cuts are rare.

Do you have a trick for shaping cork? Maybe I'm just using inferior material.

And maybe you just use it as is with no adjustments?

Thanks for any input.

Pat Bahan
01-31-2003, 06:55 PM
When I modify shape I use razor blade, or razor sharp knife, and files. I find that fine files work cork as good or better than anything. If cork isn't of a superior quality it is hard to work. When I was young we frequently drilled a tiny whole through the cork instead of making a slit. We then bound the shank with thread, glued heavily, and inserted the hook in the whole, and made sure the whole was full of glue. Later, an old pro tier who produced and sold comercially out of his house, took me under his wing. Jake ( J. O. Fisher) had made up jigs of wooden slats. Each pair of slats had matching groves cut in them to just accept a whole popper body tightly. Each pair of slats would hold 1-2 dozen popper bodies depending on length of slats and the size of the popper. With his method you simply sliced each popper body in two and laid one side in each grove of a slat, applied glue to the flat smooth side, laid a hook in place, laid the other half of the popper bodies on, forming a sandwich with the glue and hook in the middle, then place the other slat in place and clamp tightly. When the glue dries you have a popper body with hook inside that is there to stay.
when Jake died I baught all of his misc. tying parifinalia so I have a good supply of the jigs and probably all the bluegill size poppers I can use in this lifetime.
I'm rambling. Anyway, try small SHARP files. Old dull files will tear cork.

Dble Haul
02-01-2003, 02:18 PM
Thank you Pat. I've never used files before....perhaps it's time to give them a try.

02-03-2003, 07:25 PM
I can't imagine that there are many tiers out there more inept than I am when it comes to working with deer hair for the purpose of actually creating a recognizable object; for me, it's foam, specifically the live body foam typically used to make bangers. For crease flies, obviously I use foam sheet, either the generic white stuff purchased at a craft shop for less than $1 per sheet, or else the foil-backed foam available through tying shops. I use bucktail for the "wing" sometimes, though just as often I use yak hair or maribou. Poppers are without question my favorite pattern to fish, as there's no other way of fishing I can think of that's as thrilling as having fish crashing on top. As far as colors go, my all time favorite is red/white.
So for me, the popper material is synthetic.

Pat Bahan
02-04-2003, 04:29 PM
Man I wish I could be with you chasing the sardines. I haven't been there in decades. Cut my saltwater teeth out of Key West back in the late 60s.
Packing and stacking deer hair shouldn't be that tough. Use strong bulky thread, take two or three turns around the hair before you start to tighten it to flair it, and DON'T let go of the hair until it is flaring conciderably. True, the longer you hold the less it will spin, but get the nack first, worry about even spinning later. Good luck.