Pauper’s Popper
  |  First Published: April 2007

Fishing with surface offerings such as hard-bodies, plastics or flies is always exciting. Often you get to witness the strike and the suddenness of the take will leave you trembling at the knees. Surface flies can be made from a variety of materials including deer hair, closed cell foam and Styrofoam or cork bodies. The Pauper’s Popper is probably the least expensive fly you will ever tie but it will produce a variety of fresh and saltwater species.

The fly’s main body is formed from a material called Gap Filler Rod. This building product is used to fill any major gaps or voids in concrete walls and other structures before caulking is applied. It is described as polythene backing rod on the packaging and I use Moroday (available at Bunnings). Moroday is available by the metre or in 10m pre-cut lengths in 6mm, 10mm and 15mm diameters, which retail for $0.58, $0.78 and $1.40 per metre respectively. A metre is enough to tie about 30 flies so it really is a cheap fly tying material.

Gap Filler Rod is a very spongy, tubular material, which lends itself to easy compression for shaping and tying but cops a lot more wear and tear than other popper head materials. It’s so quick and cheap to tie that this lack of durability barely poses a problem. The dearest part of this fly is the hook and this can be re-used if necessary.

The Pauper’s Popper has accounted for many species including bass, spangled perch, saratoga, trevally, tailor, bream, pike and flathead. The Pauper’s Popper can be slowly worked across the surface in a crawl manner and it will push a small bow wave of water. Short, sharp strips will see it blooping across the surface and the wounded food source appeal is heightened when pauses are added. Many anglers only consider using a surface lure for some added excitement when the fish are really on the chew, but in reality, surface lures and flies can actually turn inactive fish into hungry predators.


(1) Attach the thread with a jamb knot or similar just behind the eye of the hook. Wrap the thread down the shank in tight wraps to approximately opposite the point of the hook and then back to the eye. This thread will give a base for the popper body to be adhered to later. Take a short length of the Gap Filler Rod and hold it above the hook shank so that you can work out how long you need it.

(2) Take your scissors and trim the foam to the correct shape and length you want. Cut the face of the popper at a slight upward angle so that it will push water, which will make it pop. Taper the tail section a little. The popper body should be at least a third longer than you desire it to be when finished, which will allow a portion at the rear to be tied down with thread. Wind the thread back along the hook shank to where the back of the popper head will be. Cut a small slot along the full length of the popper body for the hook to go into. Sit the popper body over the hook shank as shown.

(3) Take the popper body off the hook and apply a little epoxy into the slot. This will allow the popper head to adhere to the thread along the hook shank after it dries. Holding the popper body in position with one hand, do a loose wrap of thread around the entire popper body as shown.

(4) Start tying down the rear of the popper head. Due to the sponginess of the Gap Filler Rod, it will reduce to almost nothing to allow easy tying. Start with loose wraps and gradually increase the pressure with each one until the head is well and truly secure. Check it from the front to ensure it is straight on the hook shank as the epoxy will be nearly dry by now. Adjust if necessary.

(5) Tie in a few strands of Krystal Flash at the base of the popper head and a small clump of marabou for a tail. You can use waterproof permanent marker pens to colour the head if you wish. I like darker colours such as purple or black as they silhouette well for a fish viewing the Pauper’s Popper from below. I generally colour the face of the popper head a bright colour such as red or orange so that you can see it coming towards you in the water. If you are going to use this fly in dull light conditions then leaving the popper face white will provide greater visibility. You can even add adhesive eyes if you desire.

The Pauper’s Popper is probably the cheapest fly you will ever tie and will soon be one of your favourite surface presentations. They can be tied in a variety of sizes, colours and with differing tail materials for just a few cents.


HOOK: Mustad Aberdeen Pro-Select 3261NPBLN Size 4
THREAD: Flat-waxed nylon black
BODY:Gap Filler Rod 10mm
FLASH: Krystal Flash pearl
TAIL: Marabou purple
EPOXY:Devcon 5 minute
FINISH: Waterproof permanent marker pens
Reads: 804

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