Saturday, 31 March 2012

Making popper/slider heads

The flies on my last post were made with these ready made poppers from Wapsi
(but loads of other brands have something similar).

It is a simple way to work, they have a nice shape, they are very durable (I don’t know what they’re made off, but they’re very hard, so a layer of epoxy is not necessary), and if you want, they come with hooks to match.

So, you warm your hook with a lighter (that’s how I do it), push the popper in place, fill the groove with epoxy or some UV stuff,


make a hole for your rubber legs (more on that matter later), paint the popper, and you’re ready to tie the rest.

But like all ready made products, they have their limitations (size, buoyancy), not to mention the fact that most fly-tiers like to make everything themselves (including me). So here we go…


I start with this piece of foam.
I bought this one in a fly shop (but loads of industrial foams work equally good) and cut out a square section, which I cut very roughly into shape.

And now comes an interesting trick I learned from the Grey Piker
(thanks again Philippe!).


I glue the foam onto a piece for my dremmel tool (this is a whetstone I only use for this purpose).
You can see that I’ve cut the foam only very roughly, which is no problem at all.


Just hold the foam against a piece of sandpaper and start your dremmel tool. I use two kinds of sandpaper, a ‘100’ for the rough shape and a ‘240’ to finish.


And the result is a nicely shaped popper (or slider) head.


Then I cut a groove with a scalpel.


If it’s a popper I want, I scour a cup with another dremmel tool. 


Next, I put some varnish or super glue on a hook, and put some rough thread on (this is sewing cotton).


Then I glue on the popper head (I reversed it here, because I wanted a slider instead, but it’s the same principle).

When dry, I fill the groove with epoxy or some UV stuff, and I’m ready to paint.

Now, you can actually paint the heads, or use markers, but the most interesting way I think is with a paintbrush set… 
but I don’t have that. So I use this aerosol.

One tip maybe: do it outside, you can’t believe what kind of a mess this stuff can make (not to mention the smell).


But, you have a nice,
quick result.

Since this foam is rather fragile (certainly when you take pike teeth into account),
it’s necessary to coat it with a layer of epoxy.
And at this point I like to add some glitter as well.


For the slider (red/white) I added some red and silver glitter to the epoxy. This works well when you want the same colour and amount of glitter equally around the head.


But with the popper (chartreuse/green), I wanted some green glitter on top of the head and gold on the bottom. So I just put some varnish on the place I want the glitter and scatter some on it. Once the varnish is dry, I put on an epoxy coating.


I also put on the eyes while the epoxy is still wet.

And once the epoxy is dry, I make the hole for my rubber legs.


There are several ways to make that hole, but heating up a bodkin or a needle and push it trough is the easiest and most popular.


Although I like to use this tool as well. This is boilie drill (for carp fishermen), which is basically a drill on a handle.

For once, I will not advise you to use a dremmel tool. With the speed of the rotation, the foam will melt, which leads to two possibilities. One, your drill gets stuck in this melted substance (then you can either break your popper head, or break your drill, and since I can be stubborn... I did both). Or two, you're able to push it trough but your drill ends up with a plastic coating (which is a real mess to clean).

And then of course I tie the rest of the fly…

The popper is about 13 cm and the slider about 18 cm long. They are both tied on
a Piketrek Eagle Claw Pike Fly hook, size 5/0.

If you have any questions or suggestions concerning this post (or others),
please don’t hesitate to send me a mail…

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Poppers are not the best way to catch pike over here in Belgium, but they certainly are the most spectacular way to catch them. Normally I rarely tie them, but apparently one of the lakes we will fish in Ireland, is very shallow and a good place to fish with poppers.
So I tied me a couple, and it was so much fun that I will certainly tie me some more.

Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures. I’ve used daylight instead of artificial light, and lost a lot of details.


I took a picture of the first fly from a different angle as well. This way you can see how I tied in the feathers.

These flies were all tied with ready made popper heads, but in a next post I’ll show you how I make my own…

Saturday, 24 March 2012


A while back I saw a tutorial on a ‘Flatwing’ on another blog, which aroused my interest immediately. So I searched the internet for other examples (there are quite a few out there once you start looking), and made me a couple to test. This is a saltwater pattern which is gaining a lot of popularity in America, but you can just as well use it to fish for pike.

These were my first attempts, which are almost the same as the original. I just used epoxy eyes (with some UV-stuff between them) instead of the usual jungle cock feathers (some guys don’t even use eyes at all).

They are very light and very aerodynamic, so they cast very easily and they move very well in the water, with a nice profile despite of the small amount of material used.

But I quickly had some problems with the peacock herl. Mainly with the colour, because peacock has a great shine but it doesn’t blend well with many other colours.


So I looked for dyed herl. But beside the roots the peacock just keeps its own colour.


Of course you can find peacock herl which is bleached first and coloured afterwards, but it doesn’t improve the quality of the herl, and you loose that typical peacock shine, so you might just as well use something else.

So I just used saddle hackles instead. And from that moment on, the sky was the limit to make other colour combinations. Here you have some...



I’m very happy with these flies, so I already tied me a box full…

Back in business

It’s been a while since my last post, because I took some time off from my computer, which feels good actually, but I’m back now. I even got some mails from followers who thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. I appreciate that a lot,
so thanks for the concern guys!

I stopped the experiments for a while as well, because I’ve had some very disappointing results, and focused on tying patterns which work for sure. So I’ve been filling boxes for our upcoming Ireland trip in two weeks.

I did tie one new pattern (well, new for me anyway), which is a ‘Flatwing’. So my next post will be dedicated to those…