Ok Gents, here is the scoop on my all time favorie topwate popper for fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass (and even SW stripers lately) when conditions permit. I've been fishin this particular bug for 10+ years and have allot of faith in it! While DEFINATLY not as refined or pretty as most store bought poppers or hairbugs, Its deadly when fished in short fast strips with pauses every 3-4'. Sometimes bass will hit it on the strip but often they maul it on the pause. In any case, they hit it like they hate it! Heck, I've even taken several BIG smallies by trolling them behind the canoe (Discovered by mistake and almost cost me a fly rod!) Anyway, It was designed by Lefty Kreh back in his Smallmouth guideing days on teh Patomic when his clients would often go through ALLOT of poppers every day. By the time he got home at night, he was beat and pressed for time so his goal was to make a popper that was effective,cheap and fast to make.
The final product is all of that and more IMHO. It's key features are:
-slightly slanted vs cupped face pushes allot of water but picks up easy and quietly.
-sparce tail with long tie in - gives a nice lim minnow profile and keeps tail from wrapping in hook.
-rear set hook makes hooking a fish easier and gap isn't obstructed by tail/body materials.
- Overall slim profile makes it easy and more accurate to cast on all/lighter line weights
- can be made in bulk for pennies apiece
Lefty designed them to be made from making a few simple cuts on small bottle cork available from any hardware store (or JannsNetcraft.com) . I do make some this way but have gone to making most of mine from cutting Balsa strips into short blocks and sanding them to shape. More operations involved than the cork but you can still shape 2 doz heads in about 15 min out of 25 cents worth of material. (Make a long square rod and round off one side few swipes of sand paper, slice into blocks, cut hook slot) Besides, I like the extra boyancy the balsa provides. Durability is a wash. Both are allot tougher than you think. Lefty used squerrel tail on his but like most good patterns, variations are gratefully allowed and I like bucktail. I'mnot saying I've improved the design BTW, just tweaked it to what works for me .)
After allot of trial and error (in fresh water), I now fish these in only 3 colorsYellow/red for most water/light conditions, White and Blue for clear water /bluebird days and black/red for dusk /overcast days. I make then in size 10,6 and 4 mostly. If I find one of these colors isn't producing, dropping down to the next size often does the trick. Anyway, here is alink to an old friends site ( Bob Morger) who was collecting details on Warmwater Patterns. Enjoy!
BTW: Bob has a few other good flies on his page. Including two other simple but productive one of my favorites for panfish: The indestructable Bug and the Gurgler