Foam poppers are the new standard for most surface bass fishing and are used extensively in saltwater, as well. There is a wide variety of head shapes to consider:
- Flat faced
- Slant forward flat faced
- Cup or Concave face
- Bullet head
They all have their specific purpose. We generally use the blockhead shape with a wedge-shaped body and a slight forward slant to the front face of the popper. These blockheads are light and very effective.
The two big advantages with foam is the light weight closed cell foam and the relative buoyancy. These flies will float all day and are far lighter than wood, plastic, or cork bodies.
Foam poppers can be tied with or without eyes and rubber legs, but should have a tail of some sort.
We like to use squirrel tail as it is stiffer than other materials and won’t foul around the shank of the hook as readily as marabou and other soft materials.
Hook Size and Positioning
Hook size and positioning are paramount in popper construction and geometry. One should typically employ either a wide gap hook or a longer shanked hook (or both) to allow plenty of hook gap available to a solid hook up.
I have personally witnessed so many poor designs of hook selection with poppers. This always results in missed fish or pull-outs not seen with better constructed flies.
Take the time to examine your materials and especially your hook selection when it comes to proper balancing popper bodies with hook types.
For example, with our Roadkill Poppers, we use the Mustad 33903 Size #4 for our medium sized (best all around popper size). These are light wire, long kink-shanked hooks with a standard gap. We can use a sstandard gap, since the popper bottom is flat.
Lefty’s Popping Bug
Lefty created the Lefty’s Popping Bug for both saltwater and freshwater. The fusiform popper bodies come in Large (1 1/8″ x 1/2″) for saltwater and larger freshwater gamefish, Medium (7/8′ x 3/8″) perfect for bass, and Small (1/2″ x 1/4″) for panfish and trout.
Lefty’s Popping Bug shares the traits of other great popper designs. These critical traits are:
- Light weight and easy to cast
- Extremely bouyant
- Simple to tie
- Flat bottom on the ventral or underside
- Large hook gap
- Plenty of hook length behind the body
- Angled front face provides a gentle pop when stripped
- Easy to pick up off the water, with little disturbance
- Fly lays angled on the water with the back (hook-end) slightly lower.
- Stiff tail material that will not foul around the hook shank
- Sparse dressing materials.
If the poppers you are currently using popper bodies that do not contain some or all or these traits, consider getting some popper bodies and creating your own, more effective poppers.
For conical shaped poppers, where the body bellies out from the mid-line (as seen in the Poison Ivey Poppers above right), we must use wide gap hooks to provide enough gap aperture to allow for a solid hook up. The Mustad 3361 #02, as well as Gamakatsu SC15 #1/0 (saltwater) is employed here since they offer a wider gap than a standard light wire popper hook.