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PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 14:13 • # 1 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
These are great for redfish and bass. They are carved and shaped from a solid piece of balsa, covered with foil and epoxied. They are lighter than they look and cast easily with a 7 or 8 wt. rod. I tie them in batches of a dozen. Getting ready to do some more for redfishing and speckled trout in the surf.
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Last edited by Guest on 20 Jun 2009, 17:39, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 14:23 • # 2 
Administrator
Joined: 07/17/06
Posts: 5570
Location: South Carolina
flyslinger ... those are great. I can imagine that they would turn a few bass heads down here.


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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 02:08 • # 3 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 10/12/06
Posts: 1184
Location: US-CA
flyslinger,
Those are some great looking poppers. What hook are you using? I have just started to tie poppers for my own use. I am currently using surfboard foam, cork, and craft foam for bodies on poppers for Striped Bass and Lg Mouth here in NorCal. Respectfully rvreclus


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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 02:56 • # 4 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

Thanks for the kind words. I am currently using Mustad 34011.



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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 06:51 • # 5 
Guide
Joined: 12/30/08
Posts: 264
Location: US-WV
could you post a few "how to" picks?


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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2009, 12:32 • # 6 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

Sure. What I'll do is post in a series. I want to say from the outset that there are several methods that can be used to get the same results. I will show the methods I use. I just got some of the last materials together this afternoon to make a new batch. The first post will be materials and tools needed. You have to make one tool and I'll tell how.

Dirk



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PostPosted: 21 Jun 2009, 06:48 • # 7 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
In this first installment, I will go over the tools and materials needed to make these poppers. There are several items you will need to make that will go into your "kit" that you can use each time you assemble a batch. You will also need to have some sort of motorized device to turn your flies after you epoxy them. I use a rod building jig with a motor. If you don't have something to keep turning the epoxy while it is curing, it will sag and become a mess and all your hard work will be for nothing. You can purchase an old rotisserie motor and make one for yourself if you don't already have something.

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You will need some basic tools to get started. A hack saw, some 32 teeth per inch hacksaw blades, a power drill, a 3/8 inch drill bit, 3/8 inch brass tubing and a tubing cutter (both available at a craft store), and a carpenters pencil sharpener.

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I purchase my balsa wood in a block from the craft store. This block measures 3 X 3 X 12 inches. You will also need a 1 X 1 X 6 inch piece of hard wood. The one pictured is oak.

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In addition you will need some thin foil. I like the precut sheets use for sandwiches or baking potatos. If you use thick foil, you will not get good results. Three or more colors of acrylic paints, wood or plastic dowels in at least 3 sizes (for painting eyes), rubber cement, craft brushes, 30 minute cure epoxy and a good quality waterproof glue such as Titebond III (not pictured), Mustad 34011 size 1/0 hooks, 150 grit sandpaper, and a knurled nail set or exacto knife.

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Assorted colors of marabou, waterproof craft pens, a cone shaped (with rounded tip) grinding attachment for a drill, tying thread and bobbin.

I'm sure I've forgotten one or two incidentals, but these are the main things you will need. In the next installment we will make the necessary tools and get started cutting our balsa.


Last edited by flyslinger on 23 Jun 2009, 10:30, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 23 Jun 2009, 10:24 • # 8 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
I like a 15 degree slant on the front of my poppers. To make this cut consistently I make a form from hardwood to make things go faster. Take a piece of hardwood that measures 1 x 1 x 6 inches, wrap it in a rag and clamp it in a vise or other device to hold it steady. Mark the center of the end of the wood and drill a small pilot hole about 1/8" in diameter and about 3 " deep.

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Follow this up by enlarging the hole with the 3/8" inch bit.

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Using a miter saw cut a piece off the drilled end of the wood about 3/4" long and at a 15degree angle.

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You might as well make a second form at this point because you have the reciprocal angle on the original piece of wood.

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Take the brass 3/8" tubing and place it in the tubing cutter. Cut a piece to about 4 1/2" in length. This will be what you use to cut your balsa blanks.

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Mark your balsa block 2 inches from the end and cut it off with the fine bladed hacksaw.
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Chock the brass tubing with the end that you cut (conveniently sharpened by the cutter) facing out.

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Drill the blanks out of the balsa. (Here's a hint. DON'T do it on your wife's good table.)You will need to remove the tubing to get the blank out after each time you cut one. I got 36 blanks out of this 2 inch long piece. You can see the pile of them in the background of the second picture below.

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In part 3 we will begin shaping the blanks.



Last edited by flyslinger on 23 Jun 2009, 23:54, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 26 Jun 2009, 16:06 • # 9 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

Put the blank in the carpenters pencil sharperner and turn until the balsa is almost too short to grasp. Make 3 final turns in the opposite direction to smooth out some of the roughness.
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Sanding with the grain, smooth out the blanks into a bullet shape.
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Line up the body and a hook. Remember that you will need to tie in marabou so leave space at the rear of the hook for that. Mark a spot on the balsa right behind the eye of the hook.
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Insert the body in the form you made in part 2. Line up the mark with the front of the form. Hold both the body and the form firmly in one hand to prevent the body from turning. Using the blade only of the hacksaw, cut the balsa flush with the front of the form.
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You should have the perfect angle on the face of the body.
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Last edited by flyslinger on 26 Jun 2009, 16:08, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 26 Jun 2009, 16:22 • # 10 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

Using light strokes with the sandpaper, smooth off ragged edges at the face. Be careful not to change the angle or take off too much material.
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Hold the body in one hand and the grinding attachment in the other, make a concave shape in the face.
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Using just the hacksaw blade again, cut a shallow groove bisecting the bottom of the balsa. Make sure your cut is even and centered. You can see the approximate depth of the cut in the second picture below. Don't make the groove too deep in the front. You want the eye of the hook only about 1/16" deep into the body.
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Check the fit and make any adjustments in the groove with the blade, and length of body by sanding the rear of the body.
This one is about right, but out of focus.
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Lay a thread base on the hook and whip finish.
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Apply a liberal amount of glue to the thread. Attach body. Apply more glue to completely fill in groove. Smooth out excess and let dry.ImageImageImage



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PostPosted: 01 Jul 2009, 14:51 • # 11 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
If you still have a deep groove in the bottom of the popper body, you could either apply more glue or use wood putty to fill it in. It doesn't have to be perfect, but a deep groove may show in the finished product.

Make a cardboard template to use as a guide for cutting your foil to cover the balsa. It should look something like this.
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Use a dull pencil to make an imprint in the foil around your template. Use a cheap pair of scissors to cut out the pattern in the foil.
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Coat the balsa body completely with contact cement. Place the body on the foil as shown. Make sure the shiny side of the foil will be on the outside of the popper. Make the seam on the bottom of the popper. Fold the foil gently around the body. Trim as necessary. It is important that the foil line up with the rear of the body. You can trim the front later.
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My favorite knurling tool is actually a craft knife handle. It has knurling at the front and a smooth body at the rear. Use the smooth part of the handle to "burnish the foil onto the balsa. If done properly the foil will take on a mirror-like appearance.

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Trim any excess foil (with a small pair of cheap scissors) from around the concave face of the popper. Use the knurled section of the knife handle to transfer a fish scale pattern onto the body while the glue is still wet.
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Last edited by flyslinger on 01 Jul 2009, 14:56, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 01 Jul 2009, 15:16 • # 12 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

Using the waterproof craft pens lay a base coat of color on the foil. Use a darker color to shade the top section, then use a black one on the very top. If you want you can use a small section of wet sponge and some acrylic paint in different colors for different effects.
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Paint the concave face of the popper. Two coats may be necessary for good coverage. I like red or orange color here.
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The eyes are a three step process. I put the hook in a pair of hemostats for this step. It helps in making sure the eyes are more consistent in placement. Use the larger of your three dowels. It should measure about 1/8th of an inch across. Dip it in the red paint and make a large dot on the side of the body 1/16th of an inch behind the front of the body. Dip the tip of the dowel in the paint once more and repeat on the other side of the body.
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After the paint dries completely, move down to the next sized dowel and place a white dot inside the red dot using the same method. After that is completely dry, move to the smallest dowel and place a black dot inside the white dot. If done properly you can make the eyes impart either a "fleeing "or "chasing" look to the fly.
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Using small dowels you can create nice accents on your poppers. For examples look at the original pictures I posted or the header of this post.

We are almost finished! Next comes the fun part.



Last edited by flyslinger on 01 Jul 2009, 15:22, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 02 Jul 2009, 15:08 • # 13 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 3575
Location: Western PA
That's slick! I'm impressed with your techniques and the tutorial.


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PostPosted: 04 Jul 2009, 08:39 • # 14 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA

You can either mix your 30 minute epoxy in a plastic cup or you can make your own cup from foil by pressing a small doubled square around the bottom of a pill bottle as I did here. Mix about fifteen drops of resin with the equal amount of hardener. If you would like, and can find some very fine pearl colored glitter, you can mix it in now. I use a metal or plastic rod to stir the two parts until the resulting mixture turns clear. I don't thin my epoxy because I like a thicker shell covering the foil.

Shorten the fibers on a small craft brush by cutting half of the length of them off. This aids in getting a more even coat of epoxy with fewer missed spots.
Carefully brush the epoxy to get complete coverage including the concave face. Try to keep it out of the hook eye. Make sure all paint and craft pen ink has dried overnight before you begin to epoxy.
Have your rotating drying set up ready to put your flies in after you coat each one.
When the epoxy in the cup gets too thick to work with, toss it out and start a new batch. You don't want to mess up your popper at this late point. I usually get about 4 pencil poppers coated before I have to mix more epoxy due to hardening, but I have on occasion been able to coat six.
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Place your flies in the drying apparatus as you finish each one, making sure you don't let them touch each other while wet. Turn them for at least 3 hours until the epoxy is set and won't try to sag any longer. Let them dry overnight before you begin to tie in the tail.
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After the epoxy has hardend completely, it's time to tie in the tail. I don't like to "gild the lily" so to speak, so I tie a very simple tail on my poppers. I like to tie in a couple of strands of some kind of flashy material. Here I am using pearl colored flashabou. Start your thread behind the body and tie in the flashabou, locking it in and trimming appropriately. Next take a small to medium sized clump of marabou that coordinates well with some color in the fly. Tie that in, trim the excess, and whip finish. Place a couple of drops of head cement on the thread, and you are done!
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At this point, I would like to say a little about the foil pencil popper. I did not originate this pattern. I seem to recall a fellow in Sweden named Rapala who made hand carved , and hand tuned crank and stick baits that were covered with foil and epoxy. I believe this process is probably similar to his original process.
Mr. Walt Holmann is famous for tying these and is generally considered the best in the business, if not the originator. You can catch him tying occasionally at the FFF Southeastern Council Conclave among others. I would strongly suspect my methods are a bit different from his, because I have never seen him make his poppers. I did a lot of trial and error to get mine to look somewhat presentable.

I would like to thank everyone who has inquired or commented about the pencil poppers. They are challenging to tie, and take a while to make, but look so good when complete. I hope you try to make some of these yourself. I guarantee you won't be disappointed, but you may become addicted to making and using them. Oh, I almost forgot, they catch big fish, so hang on!

Dirk Burton
aka "flyslinger"



Last edited by flyslinger on 04 Jul 2009, 16:30, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2009, 04:28 • # 15 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 10/12/06
Posts: 1184
Location: US-CA
Flyslinger,
Outstanding tutorial, a great look at your creative process, the result is a great popper. Thank you rvreclus


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PostPosted: 11 Jul 2009, 02:26 • # 16 
Sport
Joined: 07/29/05
Posts: 83
Location: Mexico,MO
Those are truly impressive poppers and also an excellent tutorial. Thanks for the time and effort in posting it.

Dave


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PostPosted: 11 Jul 2009, 10:56 • # 17 
New Member
Joined: 07/10/09
Posts: 15
That is SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! Thanks

Rocky


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PostPosted: 11 Jul 2009, 11:09 • # 18 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 09/29/06
Posts: 4426
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
completely impressive tutorial and product. Major kudos to you and thank you. I was fascinated frm beginning to end


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PostPosted: 11 Jul 2009, 11:58 • # 19 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 6270
Location: Holly Springs, NC
Rocky,

Welcome to the Fiberglass Flyrodders! You are right, this is a sweet thread. These poppers remind me of my favorite ultralite spinning lure, the Rebel Teeny Pop-R.

By the way, that's a nice looking fly you have for an avatar.

Tom


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PostPosted: 12 Jul 2009, 15:24 • # 20 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
Gentlemen, it was my pleasure.

Dirk


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PostPosted: 20 Jul 2009, 00:42 • # 21 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1314
Location: US-OH
Don't know if it would make a difference in durability or floatability, but I found out years ago that the balsa in the racks at the hobbly store varies a lot in density. I guess where in the tree it comes from or maybe growing conditions make a difference. The lightest balsa can weigh as little as 1/3 of what the heavier balsa weighs. The heavier material is way stronger and less crushable. Don't know which would be best for the poppers -- maybe wood of average density so you get a combination of good float and some durability.


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PostPosted: 20 Jul 2009, 15:16 • # 22 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 08/25/08
Posts: 1300
Location: Delton, MI
Holy Crap, with that process they should cost $50 apiece. Very nice. Very, very nice. Those are family heirlooms in and of themselves.

CrustyBugger


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PostPosted: 21 Jul 2009, 01:00 • # 23 
Sport
Joined: 02/20/08
Posts: 82
Location: US-LA
Actually tiptop, in one block of balsa you will find many different densities. They all float well though. Much better than their plastic counterparts. I had soft, medium and hard balsa in the first dozen plugs I cut from the block. The soft ones do float higher, but will crush in a redfish jaws more easily. They still bite after the popper get ratty looking though. As a matter of fact, you can still catch fish after all the finish is worn off.


Last edited by flyslinger on 21 Jul 2009, 01:06, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 02 Dec 2011, 17:05 • # 24 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/30/07
Posts: 2173
Location: Arlington, TX
Dirk,
Thanks so much for sharing!

Les


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PostPosted: 02 Dec 2011, 17:49 • # 25 
Sport
Joined: 11/25/11
Posts: 78
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
really awesome tutorial! I can see a problem with the foil shredding/ripping with some hard hits.


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