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Rattle Pop - Popper
By Richard A. Lewis

This popper-style fly is made using a hollow foam tube for the head. These hollow foam tubes are sold as "Pencil Pillows" and are used to pad a pencil's gripping area for comfort. These brightly colored Pencil Pillows are nicely tapered on each end. By simply cutting one in half, you get two foam popper heads. A rattle is added inside the head as a noisemaker and fish attractor.

The resultant fly has a slim profile for easy casting, a vivid color, lively sound and adequate buoyancy. This fly construction maintains a wide hook gap and uses commonly available tyer's materials. You can substitute any suitable hook style and use the eyes that you have on hand and like to put on your favorite poppers. Any ole thread will do.

Notes on buoyancy: This fly can be tied with a very heavy wire, or light wire hook. If a heavy wire hook is used, and if you intend to use the fly as a topwater bait, then the tail materials must be fairy buoyant (bucktail for example) and the dressing should be rather full to help support the weight of the heavy hook. However, not all poppers need be top water baits. This fly can serve well as a sub-surface attractor (Slider/Diver), as it will push a lot of water and make quite a disturbance.

If you do indeed need a topwater bait, then use a thin, light wire, wide gap hook. It will float and pop just fine made on your favorite freshwater popper hook.

Fig. 2: The craft foams of different thickness are used to fashion the disks used for the face of the Rattle Pop Popper and the rear support disk. I like to use a simple cutter made from hobby shop grade brass tubing. I use a file and abrasive paper to chamfer the tubing's cutting edge. I size the disk to be a snug fit in the Pencil Pillow tubes. In other words, the face disk is oversized slightly.

Fig. 3: Foam plugs cut from craft foam sheets with the brass cutter. I like to use a color for the face disk that contrasts with the head color. It is easy to cap the thicker disks with variant color, thin foam disks and then bond them together with a few drops of cyanoacrylate adhesive. Gold Bond or Zap-A-Gap thin are wise choices. You'll need two disks for this fly. The rear disk's color is insignificant, as it is not visible when the fly is completed.

Fig.6: Pierce the foam face disk with a bodkin. Backup the disk with another piece of foam, such as a foam Pool noodle. If you want to place the hook below centerline of the fly, then just offset the hole from true center. I make them centered most of the time, if there is enough hook gap.

Above: Open up the hole with a nail to make it easier to slide the foam plug over the hook. Actually, the foam is so resilient that you can even thread the face disk on right over the hook eye if a lightweight hook is used.

One very heavy saltwater approved hook is this Gamakatsu 5/0. You can use a lighter hooks for freshwater applications, such as the Perfect Popper hook, Owner wide gap bass hooks, or Mustad Signature Model Popper Hooks.

Fig.12: The front thread wrap and CA adhesive. I use Uni-Stretch floss. It is very brightly colored and also absorbs the CA adhesive nicely to promote a good bond. For the heavy saltwater fly example shown above, heavy Kevlar thread was used.

Roughly position the rear foam disk/plug as shown in Fig.#13.

Buildup additional floss behind the front disk and saturate it well with CA adhesive.

These glass rattles can be purchased through most fly shops, or on-line fly tying supply sites. Make a little hole in the backside of the front disk with your bodkin to accept the tip of the glass rattle and then spot bond it to hold it in position.

Tie-off thread at rattle, push rear disk up against rattle and re-tie to hook. Make another buildup behind the disk to secure it in place on the hook shaft. Bond it down with a drop.

Add Rainbow flash or Krystal Flash at hook bend.

Fig. 24: shows the tie-in point for the heavy Salt Water Chenille by Cascade Tool.

Stretch tapered end of prepared foam tube over from disk. Slide the tube aft over next disk.

Squirt a few drops of CA into the crack around the front of the fly's face. Roll the head between fingers to distribute the CA before it dries. Add favorite eyes and bond them.

The Rattle Pop (Pillow Popper) is complete and ready to fish. It has a nice profile when wet. Add epoxy or head cement or polish to the front thread wraps to secure.

That's all there is to it. ~ Richard


For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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