Foam Bass Poppers
This Wonderful Synthetic Age
Casting bass poppers on a fly rod used to be challenge. Despite being made of balsa wood and enamel paint, they were still heavy and difficult to cast. Add a weed guard and some wind resistant hackle feathers and frustration was soon to follow. The advent of using closed-cell foam for so many flies has reduced the weight and created so many possibilities. While I certainly cannot claim credit for using foam cylinders for bass poppers, I have certainly used them to a large extent.
Flip-Flops and Foam Cores
Using brass tubes connected to an electric drill motor and flip-flops, one can make foam cores for the bodies of bass foam poppers. The wider the tube, the larger the foam body. Colors are limited to only what you can find in flip flops. To maximize the "popping" effect of the popper, I have found that flip-flops with narrow rectangular patterns on the soul are best for the face of the popper. This pattern resists water best and pops when the fly line is stripped. Not all flip-flops have this pattern. If the soul is a different pattern, it is best to just plain cut the face of the popper. Scissors leave a cup-like impression on the face, much like the cups found in traditional balsa wood poppers.
To make the poppers even more streamline, I tie mine with deer hair tails. Deer hair is less wind resistant than several long hackle feathers. Deer hair is more rugged also. To give the hair some flash, I add strands of Flashbou and peacock herl. I simply paint on eyes using t-shirt paint, lighter than using plastic eyes.
By keeping the poppers somewhat small on a size 6 hook, I make it possible to land larger bluegills and yes, even an occasional speckled perch.
Colors vary widely, but I have found chartreuse and yellow best for bass during full light conditions, purple and black during low light conditions. Bluegill tend to like white no matter what the light conditions.
This all equates to a lighter fly that can be cast with lighter fly rods. A four or five weight is perfect for smaller bass and large sunfish. To help set the hook on bass, a fast or moderate action fly rod is best.