Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fun with Foam

I've been slowly working on filling some boxes to get ready for warmwater action on the surface. I've come up with some super simple crickets, spiders, and jumbo hoppers. All they are is a cheap American-made hook (didn't know it was possible to say "cheap" and "American-made" together), craft foam, tying thread, and some silicone legs. I purchased all of my foam at Michael's craft store. The silicone I used came from the spinnerbait skirt section, not the fly tying section, at Bass Pro.

A full box makes me happy... even if it is simple.

The crickets and spiders are simply made from some 6 mm black craft foam. I probably should have added a little yellow indicator to them, but I'm sure we'll survive without that added luxury. The hoppers are slightly more complex with three layers of 2 mm craft foam glued together. The hardest part is cutting a body shape. I kept that pretty simple too. The spiders are slightly rounded on the ends, but that's it. The crickets and hoppers are rectangular with a slight angle cut under the rear of the abdomen.

super simple, silicone and foam

In my experience with foam hopper patterns I've purchased, the hook often gets loose very quickly so I coat the initial thread wrap with super glue just before I attach the foam body. I also coat the underside of the finished fly liberally with clear Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails." I coat the full thread wrap including the whip finish at the head (as you can see in the cricket at left)... these flies should be very durable.

I guess the triple-decker hopper looks a bit like a poor man's vegetarian "Club Sandwich." If you want to learn how to tie a proper "Club Sandwich" hopper check out The Hopper Juan blog. Juan Ramirez makes a tasty looking "Club Sandwich."

Mine is definitely not as pretty (or complicated), but I've found some of the similar (professionally tied) foam hoppers I've purchased to be a bit on the stiff side when it comes to producing fish-catching action. They may be great on the drift for big fall Brown Trout, but working them in flat water for bass has been very unproductive for me in the past. I've always found poppers with free swimming silicone legs to be much more productive... thus the simplicity of the legs I've adopted. The foam "Bream Spider" is a classic, but I honestly haven't ever seen such a simplistic hopper pattern out there... probably because no one except me would be willing to show off such simplicity. I like simple flies that catch fish. These are still in the experimental phase, and I'll definitely be giving a report soon.


  1. Very nice... Everything that swims will eat a bug!
    Simple is good.

  2. Those are great. Good work Jay.
    I know for a fact that those beetles are killers.
    The wild brookies think its Halloween when those candies float down.
    Great photos too.

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    Brk Trt, I wouldn't want to disgrace a wild Brookie with such an artificial creation. It would feel like a sacrilege. I think it would be much more fitting to use one of your beautiful streamers.
    My secret for good photos... take a dozen or so with the digital camera and keep the one that looks presentable.

  4. Nice Jay. I love tying and fishing foam critters. I've got a box full of those funky tan and green hoppers. Love em, they're cheap.

  5. Those look like fish catchers for sure!

    I agree with your comments about the popper legs.

  6. lookin like a splash is about to happen!!

  7. Jay
    Great looking hoppers like all, my favorite is the sandwich, I think these would be a killer off the rock walls on Smith. The reason I say this is because the bass have not seen these type hoppers. In fact I am the only one that fishes with the fly rod on the lake. You may find that hard to believe, but I have not seen anyone fishing with a fly rod on this lake in the past 15 years. I have found something new or anything that duplicates the real thing seems to trigger a hit. A small nymph dropped off one of these hoppers might work.

  8. Cofisher, cheap is really good... and foam is even more fun with a fish attached to it.

    Fin Follower, thanks for sopping by. I'm hoping the popper style legs payoff.

    Josh, a big splash, I hope!

    Bill, I'm not at all surprised that you're the only one on the lake with a fly rod... you live in AL. The only other people I've ever seen with a fly rod in AL besides Kelly and I were a guide and a fly shop owner (Shannon McCurley and Frank Roden) in Little River Canyon. I never saw any one fly fishing when I went out in my kayak on Ross Barnett/upper Pearl River near Jackson, MS. I'm sure if we lived in CO people would be hitting the lake with fly rods more often. I'm glad we don't have too much company. I think it definitely gives us an edge.
    Looking forward to giving that hopper-dropper combo a try.

  9. some of the best designs are the simple ones.

  10. very nice and streamlined. they will work.

  11. Ivan & DTT,
    Thanks for the comments.

  12. GREAT GREAT foam flies! I like your blog and started following

  13. Dustin, thanks for the comment. I visited your blog, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the goodies in your "Fly Box."