Sheet Foam Fly Poppers

Through most of the summer when I fly fish for bass I will target them with top water lures. These last few years I fished a lot of grasshopper patterns since they were made from foam and would float indefinitely. I had fished poppers on the fly rod many times, but being cheap I refused to buy the bodies for them to make more once I lost the last I had been given. I tried using the foam from flipflops to make new bodies, but this resulted in some pretty mediocre flies. They did float, but it was very difficult to craft a decent looking fly without having to paint them. In search of a better solution I stopped at a craft store to see what kind of foam they had. After looking through an incredibly small selection, I purchased sheets of craft foam.

I found that if I cut the foam into roughly 1 inch by 1 inch squares, I could layer these squares on a hook, glue them together and then trim them down with an exacto knife to make a decent body. The body wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, but it could have color patterns by stacking the foam in different orders(meaning no need to paint). To finish the fly, a simple marabou tail is tied on and some googly eyes glued to the body. This pattern has caught me countless bass and crappie, and this way I can make hundreds of bodies for same cost as buying a pack of 20 turned popper heads. And the results look pretty good too

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Fly Tying: Beetles and Minnows

The beauty of fly fishing is that it can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. There is nothing more satisfying than catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself. Since I was snowed in today, I took the time to dig into my fly tying boxes and practice a few patterns.

The first pattern I tackled was a super simple minnow imitation. The recipe is simple: White marabou, a piece of ball chain for the eyes and white thread. This fly is my go to pattern when I fly fish for skipjack shad in the Ohio River. But it is also a great pattern to work for large panfish and small largemouth in midsummer.

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The other pattern I played around with was a simple beetle pattern. Nothing new here, just foam, ostrich herl, turkey feather and white thread. It may not be a pretty pattern, but I have taken my limit of bluegill on this pattern many times. This dry fly pattern works from the start of spring right through late fall during hopper season.

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With the amount of ice on the lakes right now there is no chance to try out these patterns, but they have worked before and I trust they will work again. If this weather keeps up I just might have the chance to catch a few fish through the ice (fingers crossed).

Some Fun Little Projects

I will happily fish in the winter, but I have found the line that I will not cross this time of the year: Once it is dark I am done fishing. By the time I finished work and accomplished the errands I needed to run it was pitch black. I was still feeling very fishy, so I settled down to make some fishing gear.

The first project was tying a fly called ‘La Bomba’. Instead of following the suggested materials on the fly pattern, I followed my cheap tendencies and made the materials I currently own work. The beads were from a bracelet making kit I was given, the tails were made from yarn, the legs from silicon bracelet string and the body made from either ostrich herl or some rabbit dubbing. I was proud of how the flies turned out and I can’t wait for the water to be warm enough to get into some bluegill and bass on this pattern.

The next 2 projects brought me over to my 3d printer. I found a design by timebeestudio on thingiverse.com called ‘The Minnow’ that I thought had some fish catching potential. I printed it out and used heavy fishing line to run the hooks through the body of the lure. I haven’t taken this lure on a swimming test yet, but the design does seem to be very sturdy and the body design looks like it should work. I was too lazy to go hunt down treble hooks so I used some size 8 hooks. I then demonstrated my fine art skills and colored in the lure with sharpies.   IMG_9881

The next design was made by lew597 on thingiverse.com called ‘Inline Method Feeder’. I’ve designed and made many method feeders out of wire mesh, wood and plastic over the last year, but this design seemed to be much cleaner than those I have previously made. This design prints fairly well with out support and if printed with PLA it won’t require much weight to settle correctly.  The design has a hollow space on the bottom for you to attach your weight of choice. I coiled up fencing wire and glued it in place, I am assuming that this is a safer alternative than lead, but I haven’t researched to see if that is true yet. I plan to test these out with the carp bait I made recently.

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The final project was inspired by Paul Adams’ videos on youtube. I do not have the materials or the technical ability to create the high quality creations like he does, but his projects always make me want to try for myself. I took the inside container from a kinder egg and sketched out a minion pattern on it. Then I attached a screw eyelet into the bottom and cut craft foam to match the design. The foam was then attached to the container with hot glue and the float tested in a cup of water. I’m happy to report that it floats perfectly and looks just as ridiculous in water as you would expect.

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Baking Mistake into Carp Bait

I’ve been baking a lot of bread lately, and due to having an old bread machine, I have had a few loafs just refuse to rise. I hate the idea of throwing out these failed loaves, so I decided it was time to figure out how to use them somehow. Below, you can see the loaf that didn’t rise, but since it is primarily flour I figured I could make carp bait with it.

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I started out wanting to make some boilies, so I took a third of the loaf of bread and tossed it into the food processor. This resulted in a fine, wet, bread crumb.

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Since I use corn in my ground bait, I wanted the bait to be corn based as well. I put roughly a 1/2 cup of corn muffin mix into the blender with the bread crumbs.

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To add more filler agents, I tossed in 2 cups of cooked oatmeal.

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To help the boilies keep their shape and not be to soft when submerged, I put in one egg.

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This was all blended together into a thick paste. I’ve always had good luck with vanilla flavoring in my carp baits, so I put 2 and a 1/2 TBSP of vanilla into the mix.

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This resulted in a slightly sticky dough. I then rolled balls of the dough in either the corn meal mix or the extra bread crumbs. This resulted in balls that hold their shape well, but won’t stick to surfaces.

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I rolled the dough into balls with diameters of 1 inch or smaller. These were then tossed into boiling water for 2 minutes.

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The boilies were then set to rest on a pizza pan to air dry while the rest of the dough was boiled.

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I still had 2/3 of the loaf left, so I made up some ground bait. The rest of the bread was tossed into the food processor with 1 cup of dry oatmeal and 1 cup of corn meal mix. These were bagged and frozen for use as ground bait. When mixed with canned corn, this will result in a soft, easy to shape, and easy to cast ground bait.

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IMG_9850After sitting out for a few hours, the boilies were still softer than I wanted so I tossed them into the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit just long enough for the outsides to toughen up a little (mine needed like 35 minutes).

This one loaf of bread resulted in 4 bags of ground bait and 6 bags of boilies. These have all been tossed in the freezer and should be fine in there for as long as needed and should be fine in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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When these boilies are tossed among the ground bait, they should be irresistible to hungry carp. This is a phenomenal bait for fishing the Ohio River flood plains in late winter and early spring.

3D Printing and Fishing

I think a lot of times technology seems to only benefit the people selling the fishing gear these days. And as an avid D.I.Y. fan I thought it was time to end that. I’ve made top water lures out of wood many times, and have tried to make crankbaits and lipless crankbaits out of wood. But I have never been able to get them to swim right. And mostly I put that to my inability to carve symmetrical things and knowing how to weight lures.

I figured it was time to take an engineers approach to making lures. This led me to the thingiverse website in search of a good fishing lure 3d model. After finding a decent model I brought my printer up to temperature and was ready to go. I printed the lure off on my Printrbot Simple Makers Edition Printer with red pla at 20% infill.

After printing it off it was simply a matter of removing any support material and screwing in eyelets for the hooks. 2 treble hooks later and I had a lure!

I figured I would give a try in a private lake that is stuffed full of bass. But the bite was very slow and I only caught 3 fish the whole day. But luckily, one of those fish was on a jerkbait that I printed and colored in black with a sharpie.  Not the most elegant of lures, but it did prove to me that it is a method of lure making worth investigating further.

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Largemouth Bass Caught on a 3d Printed Jerkbait