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Cork Body Popper Fly Pattern
by Ed Zaun

Cork Body Popper Photo Copyright  1998 E. Zaun & Tom Mann

There are many golden moments in fishing. Many of us have different things we treasure about fishing, but almost everybody agrees that the most exiting fishing is done on the surface. There is nothing to compare with the thrill of watching a fish explode through a chugging surface lure, sometimes hitting it several times until the hook sinks home.

The Cork Body Popper may not be the easiest fly you'll ever cast, it may not be the prettiest, or the most elegant, but it will invite some of the most vicious strikes you'll ever experience. With the proper tools, it is very easy to tie, and as is the case with all of my favorites, can be adapted to many colors and styles. Below is the pattern I use the most, essentially it is a large version of a freshwater bass popper.

Stuff you'll need...
  • Hook: Mustad 34007 or equivalent.
  • Tail: Two more or less matched Saddle Hackles,brighter is usually better, with some Pearl Crystal Flash tied in for glitz.
  • Hackle: Two Saddle Hackles the same color as the tail.
  • Body: Cork Bottle Stopper over dubbed yarn or floss wraps.
  • Eyes: 3-D Doll Eyes from a Craft Store. I like the ones with the moving pupil.

New Tool: The easiest way to slot the cork to accept the shank is 3 hacksaw blades put together so that the teeth from the middle one oppose the other two. Use electrical tape on each end, and you're ready.

It also helps if you have a rotary file (Dremel tool), and a disk sander, but a regular old drill and some sandpaper will do. It just takes longer.

Tie it up...

I find it easier to make up a gaggle of bodies before hand and paint them with the desired colors, ready for my whim at the tying bench. Using the Dremel tool or a grinding stone in a drill, hollow out a depression from the edge to the center of the wider end of the cork, the deeper you go, the more water will be splashed by the fly on each strip. Where the gouge meets the side will be the front bottom edge, so on the top rear edge, shape the cork with the sander or sandpaper. Use the hacksaw blades to make the notch about 3/16" deep in the bottom. Put the bodies on a straightened out wire coat hanger and paint them. I use spray paints, but I guess brushing would work. Voila`.

  1. Place the hook in the vise and attach the tying thread.
  2. Dub some yarn along the shank from the bend forward, or use floss. This will hold the epoxy better than a bare hook, and make a snugger fit for the body, just don't get carried away or the body won't fit.
  3. Tie in about 6 strands of the Crystal Flash just forward of the bend.
  4. Tie in the Saddle hackles just forward of the bend to form the tail, with the natural curve facing out.
  5. Throw in a few half-hitches to lock it down.
  6. Tie in the two remaining Saddles and wrap them to form a hackle like a dry fly.
  7. Run the thread forward to the eye. Apply a whip finish, and cut the tying thread.
  8. Saturate the body dubbing with epoxy and fit the Cork Body on to it.
  9. Put a small dab of epoxy near the lead edge of the body on each side and place the eyes. The eyes should be, if you were facing the fly, at about 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock.

Copyright © 1999 - 2013 Ed Zaun, All Rights Reserved
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