Warmwater Fly of the month: January, 2002 - The CLP
Tying the C L P
(Cheap Little Popper)

Introduction
In the early years of my fly fishing experience, I did far more fishing for bass and sunnies than for trout. This was by necessity; there was little trout fishing to be had anywhere near the NewJersey shore community where I was born and raised, and in those years saltwater fly fishing in this part of the world was barely thought of. But to this day, I get just as much enjoyment, if not more, from warmwater fishing as from trout fishing. Warmwater fisheries tend to have fewer fishermen and more fish--a winning combination as far as I'm concerned!

I've always liked fishing poppers. Of course there's the excitement of fishing any fly on the surface. And poppers by virtue of their construction are unsinkable, no matter how many eager bluegills slime them. Once I started teaching fly fishing, poppers became a staple item to tie onto my students' leaders on warmwater lessons. Unsinkable, easy-to-see and effective--what could be better.

The drawback, however, was the cost. Quality poppers were relatively expensive, the cheap ones usually had poor quality hooks and materials and often were of poor design with too little hooking power. Making one's own cork, balsa or foam poppers was very labor-intensive, and using commercially prepared pre-formed bodies drove the cost up again. How it grieved me to have a student hang one irretrievably in a tree on the first cast or two!

A few years ago a solution to this problem sprouted in my brain, the fruit of several articles I'd read in different publications. I'd love to give credit to everyone whose ideas aided this process, but truthfully I don't remember them all. I'm sure, though, that I should acknowledge Frank Theobald of Glenside, PA, whose Foam Sandal Bug appears in the Dick Stewart/Farrow Allen book Flies for Bass and Panfish. Several articles in the now defunct magazine Warmwater Fly Fishing, which I miss terribly by the way, were no doubt also seminal in the development of this pattern.

The CLP is both easy and inexpensive to make and holds up well in use. A competent tyer can easily turn out a dozen in less than an hour. All of the components are inexpensive--the total cost of materials per fly comes in at well under five cents I'm sure. On a size 8 hook, the CLP can easily be cast on a 5-weight outfit. Using light tackle makes typical hand-sized sunnies and rock bass lots of fun to catch, but this fly has also accounted for a surprising number of smallmouth bass of 12 to 17 inches since I started using it. The old "big fly, big fish" maxim is not always true! A smallmouth of a foot or more on a 5-weight will take you for quite a ride, I can tell you that!

The body of the original CLP is yellow foam colored with red, green, and black permanent markers. After being chewed on by a number of fish, the colors will fade but this does not seem of much concern to the fish. I've never bothered to touch up worn paint jobs, but you certainly could.

It's fun to experiment with different colors of foam and tail dressings. Cutting the bodies from foam beach sandals reduces the cost per body to fractions of a penny. Go to the Dollar Store and buy a pair of XL "Flip Flops" and just think about how many 1/4 inch plugs you can drill from them, each plug typically making two bodies! Foam garden kneeling pads and soft foam pool "kick boards" are just a couple of other possible sources of material--any firm, closed-cell foam should work. If you don't want to be bothered cutting your own plugs, "Livebody" (will be discussed in a future article-webmeister for fly tying) or other commercially produced foam cylinders could be used instead.

What makes this fly most economical is if you tie it up "production line style" in batches of half a dozen or more at a time. First dress all the hooks, then prepare all the bodies, then glue them all up, etc. If you lay the dressed hooks out in a line on your tying bench, for instance, and glue the bodies on each one from left to right, by the time you get to the last one in line the glue on the first one has set sufficiently for you to trim the bottom of the body (although it's better to let the glue dry overnight). Likewise, when doing the painting with the markers, by the time you get to the last one in line the color on the first one is dry enough that you won't run the colors together or get your fingers painted along with your poppers.

I hope you find the CLP an interesting and useful concept, and that it brings you a lot of enjoyment in tying and success in fishing.
--Mary S. Kuss--

The CLP TYING INSTRUCTIONS

Hook: Size 8 Mustad 3366 (Or Tiemco 101, or any standard length, straight-eye hook)
Thread: Yellow or chartreuse (I like 3/0 Monocord, but go finer if you must.)
Tail: Yellow or chartreuse marabou
Hackle: Grizzly dyed green
Body: 1/4 inch yellow foam cylinder cut to appropriate length and painted with permanent markers (red and green in chisel point for the body colors, black fine point "Sharpie" marker for the eye spots)

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Step 1: Start the thread just behind the eye of the hook, wrap back to the tail position and forward again to the shoulder position forming a thread base. Select a clump of marabou fibers for the tail. Trim the butt end of the marabou clump square and catch it in with the tying thread. Wrap the thread back to the tail position, binding the marabou to the top of the hook as you go. Tear the marabou to length (if not using the natural tips), approximately the total length of the hook.

Step 2: Apply three or four turns of hackle at the base of the tail. Tie off, wrap the thread forward to the head position and whip off.
Step 3: Cut foam cylinder to length and use an awl or blunt needle to ream a pilot hole through the center of the foam from end to end.
Step 4: Coat the shank of the hook with Super Glue. I prefer the thick, "gap-filling" formulation. If using the thin glue, be careful not to use too much as it may wick into the tail materials and ruin them.
Step 6: Put popper upside-down in your tying vise, and very carefully use a double-edge razor blade to trim a thin slice of foam from the bottom of the foam body to increase the hook gap slightly.

Step 7: Paint the face of the popper with the red marker.

Step 8: Take several swipes down the popper's back with the green marker. Now draw three vertical bars down each side of the body, merging with the back stripe at the top. (If using white live body cylinder, color the body yellow and allow to dry before using green maker.)

Step 7: Paint the face of the popper with the red marker.

Step 8: Take several swipes down the popper's back with the green marker. Now draw three vertical bars down each side of the body, merging with the back stripe at the top. (If using white live body cylinder, color the body yellow and allow to dry before using green maker.)

Step 9: Use the black "Sharpie" marker to make a black eye spot on each side of the popper's head. Allow to dry overnight.

Step 10: Go fishing!