View Full Version : bluegill poppers

01-23-2009, 04:34 PM
When it comes to blue gill poppers, what is your favorite collars. And which do you like best foam or wood bodies?

So far mine are yellow with red dots on a wood body. They are purchased. But I am tying for the first time this year and will be using some foam for hte first time.

01-23-2009, 05:45 PM
I tie my own and most that I end up using and catching fish on are green.

I use a tuft of maribou in the tail, wrap some hackle betewwn the end of the body and the curve of the hook, and glue 2 craft store eyes.

I've used markers and paint to color them up but quit that a while back. I didn't see one bit of difference between the marked up ones and the plain ones. I think the maribou tail's movement and the size and shape of the popper body is all that really matters.

I also use yellow and have found it to be better on bright days and earlier in the evening. The closer to dusk it gets, the better the green works.

Hope this helps.

01-23-2009, 06:04 PM
That sounds good. I am currently trying to find ways to make poppers. Do you like wood or foam better.

01-23-2009, 11:27 PM
I find wood and cork to be a pain. I use foam for the ones I tie. I use the kinked shank Mustad popper hooks.

I have tried the pre shaped foam popper bodies and they work, especially when you put the pointy end toward the hook eye and make a "sneaky pete" type popper.

Motly, I just buy the foam "rods" (LRO has them) and cut them to the lenght I need for the popper I'm tying.

I put a thread base down and put a few drops of super glue on the thread. Use the bodkin or a large needle and poke a hole through the length of the foam. Then, before the glue dries, slip it over the eye and down the hook shank. The super glue holds it good and tight.

Then, tie on the tufk of maribou. For green, I use either red, green or black maribou. Then some hen hackle feathers in color of choice, usually the same color as the maribou but have gone crazy here too. I've used buck tail, and dry fly hackle too.

Sometimes, I'll put a few strands of Krystal Flash or tinsel in the maribou tail. It all works. I'm not sure the flash does much.

Another fly I tie is a gurgle pop. They are crazy simple to tie.
Lay down a thread base
Tie in a tuft of maribou for a tail
Use some sparkly dubbing or palmer a soft hackle up the hook shank
bring thread back to the tail.
Lay a stirp of 2mm craft foam over the hook with the end just shy of the hook eye.
Tie in just in front of the hook shank
fold it over, bring the thread to the middle of the hook
tie it in
move to the front
tie in
rubber legs are optional
trim the top piece just a little longer than the bottom piece.

These things are DEADLY.

Here are links to a few photos of the poppers and gurgle pops.

I can't claim originality on these patterns, I have made changes to the originals but I didn't invent them.

None of these are difficult to tie and they catch bass, bluegill and crappie when they're hitting on the top. Just for grins, I tied on a gurgle pop and used it on blacktail deer creek in Yellowstone and caught a few brook trout on one. It was kind of funny using a bluegill fly on trout in Yellowstone. I would imagine they had never seen one of those before and probably thought it was some kind of grasshopper. They did like them though.

Gurgle Pops

Foam Poppers

01-24-2009, 11:36 AM
I like Chartreuse green or Chartreuse yellow the best. Black is my next favorite, then white.
I prefer to use foam, because its easier and I can whip out a handful pretty quickly. I've been working on my deerhair spinning skills, but haven't made a lot of "bluegill flies" out of those yet.
some sneakys I made last weekend

working on deerhair first attempt tied on a tmc 200 #12 stimulator hook
A deerhair pattern I borrowed from my friend Mike (Appalachian Angler)

blockheads are easy to make

of course they do like the smallmouth sized poppers also

01-24-2009, 05:09 PM
How do you get the taper on the Sneakies? Are you making them or buying them?

01-24-2009, 09:19 PM
Here's mine - not really a popper though it does pop a little - with just a little strip - makes some commotion but let's it stay in the target zone with the legs awigglin'..

I call it the Tokyo Spider (http://flyfishga.com/spider.htm) - as in the old japanese monster flix - ala the Spider That Ate Tokyo.........


01-24-2009, 09:37 PM
How do you get the taper on the Sneakies? Are you making them or buying them?

I bought the cone shaped ones for the Petes. I suppose one could make them by sanding down a straight body, but by the time I've done that, I could have purchased a package from LRO and had it delivered to my house, so I just buy them.


01-24-2009, 10:57 PM
Kent, you've got some great original patterns. I'm looking forward to coming by T-fest and watching you tie.

01-26-2009, 12:25 PM
Kent I also have tied up a bunch of those tokyo spiders. I can not wait to use them. Troutman I like those poppers you have made also. And I definately got to to use the gurgle pops. I have only tied one popper as for now and it is terrible. Thanks for the photos and advise on the foam rods at LRO.

01-26-2009, 05:21 PM
I called up LRO and ordered some of the foam rods that you guys told me about. I also like that they come in different colors that you can purchase. I was going to try and use regular hooks over buying special popper hooks. Will this work?

01-26-2009, 05:44 PM
For bass poppers, I like the Gamakasu Stingers.
For bluegill, I started using the TMC 104SP size 8
They have a nice wide gape for clearance and easy to get forceps onto the bend when removing a deeply hooked fish.
Notice the clearance on these two flies tied on a size 8


01-26-2009, 05:53 PM
I am tying on the mustad 3366 and the stinger hook you mentioned also. Thanks for the information.

01-26-2009, 06:17 PM
I called up LRO and ordered some of the foam rods that you guys told me about. I also like that they come in different colors that you can purchase. I was going to try and use regular hooks over buying special popper hooks. Will this work?

I don't see why regular hooks wouldn't work. Just make sure the gape is wide enough (as Troutman said). The drop or two of super glue on the thread wraps before putting the foam on the hook should hold it in place just fine.

When I first started using these, I used an Xacto knife and cut a slit in them to place on the hook. I have found that running a needle / bodkin through them to "poke a hole" and then sliding over the hook eye saves a lot of time and reduces the chance of slipping with the Xacto knife cutting a deep valley in your finger and the resulting teaching of new words to the wife and children.


01-26-2009, 06:23 PM
what did you use to cut a straight edge through them when cutting off a body? I always seem to cut and slightly get off a little and have a angle to my cuts.

Wade Blevins
01-26-2009, 06:29 PM
My father was the creator of "Sam's -L-Eye-Bee" and " The One Bug" both tied with livebody foam cylinders. Orange, white and yellow tend to be the best colors. I have modified the bug a little over the years but have caught dozens of species of fish and it can be tied in multiple sizes for redfish, bass or bream. Durable enough to catch 300+ fish on one fly.


Byron Begley
01-26-2009, 06:38 PM

Please e-mail me so I can e-mail you.


01-27-2009, 10:07 AM
what did you use to cut a straight edge through them when cutting off a body? I always seem to cut and slightly get off a little and have a angle to my cuts.

I use either an Xacto knife or scissors. The scissors seem to give a good straight cut. Just go slow.

Also, speaking from painful personal experience, Xacto knives are quite sharp.

Also, LRO has every hook one can imagine.

Here are the popper hooks I use:

Here are the ones Troutman mentioned:



01-27-2009, 10:26 AM
Thanks jeff I had not thought of the scissors. I always tried the exacto knife as you. I thought about using one of those paper cutters like used in an office but I wasn't sure it would work. I will try the scissors.

01-27-2009, 11:14 AM
Here is how I do it. Box cutter blade.
If you need to cut the slit for the hook shank. Insert the foam cylinder in the vice itself and cut a slit with the stiff BC blade.
These popper bodies are pre-slit. front for a popper and back for a slider. Piece of cake!

nothing fancy but they work. thats all that counts!

01-27-2009, 11:41 AM
excellent photos troutman. Yes the proof is in the pudding as shown in many of your photos. Thanks.

01-27-2009, 04:17 PM
There's just something about a bass smashing a popper that makes me smile on a cold winter Kentucky day (6+" snow on the ground with more to come tonight). The only thing that comes close to warming my heart as much as thinking of a bass smashing a popper is a bluegill slurping one down.

Darn, it's cold and I need to go fishing! I NEED to hear a bass or bluegill take in a popper.

April is only 13 weeks away.


01-29-2009, 09:16 PM
Down here in NW Fla. the best colors seem to change year to year.Several years ago blue body-white eyes seemed the best.Then it changed to yellow body-red eyes.At least for bream.As usual,my go-to for bass is the Smith Kicker Frog.When I get off the boat in march I'll be bream+bass fishin' again.

01-30-2009, 10:03 AM
I got in some foam last night from LRO and tied up some poppers. Mainly yellows due to the consistancy of catches around here are on yellow store bought poppers. I can not wait to get out there and try some of these things out. I am going to tie up some chartruese tonight. :eek:

01-31-2009, 01:18 PM
I finished up a few poppers this week, found some bodies that I'd painted years ago, but had never added the tails etc.


02-02-2009, 10:03 AM
Steve that is a really good looking popper. I wish Mine turned out that well. Good job.

02-12-2009, 12:28 PM
Flyred, heres a couple of really easy bream poppers. These are the small foam tubes, same as for wiggle minnows. They are similiar to Bob Clousers EZ popper in materials. Very easy to make and no hackle to get shredded. I like the calftail versions better, maribou tails give more motion but tear up more easily.


02-12-2009, 12:53 PM
Troutman, those are awesome. I notice that you put the hook closer to the bottom of the foam as where I go through the middle. As I said this is my first time making poppers, is there a reason you go close to the bottom like that? I love that red and white. I am tying on a number 8 hook with 3/16 foam bodies. Is that close to what you are using for blue gills? I have been using #6 hooks and 3/8 bodies also. I also used your ideas with the #2 pencil popper bodies from waspi on a number 6 hook where I got both a cup popper and a slider out of each body.

02-12-2009, 02:32 PM
I am using the 3/8" foam. One thing I forgot to mention is that you can tie in a little loop to the hook shank like on the wiggle minnow before you tie in the tail. keeps the tail from fouling and offers a tie in point for a dropper instead of on the hook shank.

I glue the hook in low for several reasons.
Makes the popper float higher like a dry fly.
Higher floatation is easier to see in low light conditions. Fishing at dusk or shady overhangs, etc.

Most commercial flys (Walts Poppers, Sneaky Petes)and including deerhair poppers are made this way also. It gives better hook gape clearance for more hookups and its easier to remove from the fish with hemos.
lastly, I just like the way they look!

02-12-2009, 02:56 PM
Awesome. Thanks for the information. I have admired your poppers on several forums. You always seem to right on with your ties. I had not thought about that on the hook but I will give it a try.

02-13-2009, 06:25 PM

I went home and tied poppers till 10 last night. I tried putting the hook down further in the foam as we discussed and I do like it alot better. Thanks for the advise. I cannot wait to try some of them out. I hope mine are as lucky as yours.