This week I’m introducing my next “In Pursuit” project. For this goal, I’ll be attempting to catch as many species as I can on my own super simple and inexpensive cork poppers. I’m going to call this series “Casting Cork”. Don't worry- I'm still going to work on Fly25 and update that frequently. Dave and I are both going to have a couple of projects for you to follow along with...
So I started making these cork poppers about 5 years ago. I had been buying pre-made poppers online for bass and pickerel fishing, and was frustrated by how expensive they were. At $7 to $15 a piece, they seemed over priced to me, especially for how simple they are. Afterall, a popper is about as basic as a fly can be, and color and detail don’t matter nearly as much when you’re fishing something on the surface that makes as much commotion as these things do. The fish really seem to key in on the sound and commotion first, and everything else second. Further, since they’re looking up at it, they mostly see a silhouette against the sky anyways. Sure, for picky, pressured trout you might benefit from adding some detail. However, even then I believe if the fish are aggressive enough to take something as big and loud as these are, they’re not taking the time to examine it as closely as when they’re sipping emergers. I believe that really you could get away with all white in almost any situation, with just a couple of feathers to imitate the length of a bait fish body, or the legs of a frog.
In essence, for me, poppers are all about the noise and a big floating body outline.
So I started poking around online and found a couple of people making gorgeous cork poppers. Some of these were truly stunning. However, upon beginning the process of making them, it seemed to me that they were going to take a really long time to finish. And while the detail and craftsmanship were superb, in many ways it defeated the purpose in my opinion. After all, time is money, and I both value my time highly and have little of it to spare.
So I started experimenting with the fastest, cheapest way to make poppers that would still out-fish and out-last the commercial ones. What I’ve come up with, is a popper that is far more effective than commercial ones, while still only costing about $2-3 each. They don’t look as polished as other poppers, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the fish at all. I’ve landed many largemouth bass over 4-pounds on them, and have had a few 2.5-pound or larger smallmouth too. I’ve caught barracuda on them as well, and schoolie stripers. Don’t even get me started on pickerel… For the first few posts, I’m going to just go through the process I use in making them. I’m also going to take you along as I experiment with a new method for painting and finishing them as well, which I hope will make the process even faster, and maybe a bit fancier too. Let’s start with a video to get the series rolling.