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.

skipjack fly gif

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.

bluegill fly

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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