Fly of the Month – Brain Dead Popper

Written by Paul Beel: J. Stockard Pro Tyer Team Leader and owner of FrankenFly

For this Fly of the Month I explain how to tie a simple Brain Dead Popper. This is a simple popper using the new Brain Dead Popper heads. You can tie them fairly quickly and they are a real fish catcher!

Brain Dead Poppers are block style poppers. Please see the previous blog on more information on these poppers, because you can turn them different ways to achieve various effects in the water. In this post I am just explaining the popper way.

Materials list:
Hook: size 2/0 Ahrex PR330 Aberdeen Predator or TP615 Trout Predator Long
Tail: Marabou Blood Quill
Tail: Legs of your choice
Body: Chocklett’s Filler Flash
Eyes: 8.5mm Surface Seducer Dragon Eyes
Head: Brain Dead Popper

Tying Instructions:
1. Place a hook in your vise.

2. Use Zuddy’s Leg Puller or a bodkin to poke a hole in the Brain Dead Popper so you will be able to slide the popper on the hook shank. It is better to put the hole lower so the popper will pop in the water column better. Please see photo to see the direction you need to place the popper on the hook.

3. Slide the popper on the hook shank temporarily. We are just doing this to mark the position of where the popper will be so we can tie our materials up to that point. Once you have the popper on, just wrap some thread up to the back of the popper. You may have to slide the popper out of the way and hold the position with your thumb or something.

4. Now you can slide the popper off and move your thread back by the barb to begin to tie in the tail. (You will have some bare shank near the front where the popper will go later.)

5. Take a marabou feather (you can use two if you want) and lay it flat on top of the hook shank with it extending from the bend. I usually make it as long as the hook, but you can make it a little longer if you want. Make thread wraps to hold it in place and cut off the stem if it extends pass the mark in the front.

6. Take two rubber legs and tie them on the side of the shank behind the marabou. If you make wraps in the middle of the legs, you should have enough to fold them around to the other side. The ends should extend to about the length of the marabou. Tie both sides down so you have two rubber legs on each side of the marabou.

7. Take your Chocklett’s Filler Flash and tie the end down behind the marabou and legs on the shank and then run your thread up to the front where your bare shank starts. Start wrapping your Filler Flash in wraps that butt up against each other all of the way to the front where your thread is. It may help to use your fingers to brush the Filler Flash back each time you take a wrap. Once you reach your thread tie it off and snip off the excess.

8. It’s time to make some thread wraps in the blank shank area you left so you can have something for your popper to slide over to be held in place. So build up some thread wraps and cover all of the bare shank to the hook eye. Keep making wraps back and forth so it builds ups a bit, but make sure your popper can still slide over it snugley.

9. When you are ready, make a whip finish and cut off your thread. Get ready to slide your Brain Dead Popper on, but first take some Krazy Glue or Zap-A-Gap and brush some over the thread wraps you made. As soon as you put the glue on slide the popper in place. Do it quickly, because the glue will dry fast and won’t allow you to slide the popper all of the way on. Make sure your popper is level.

10. Now take a Zuddy’s Leg Puller or needle, whatever you are using to help you pull legs through and make a hole in the back of the popper. You can see in the photo where I put mine. Stick it through. Put two or three legs through the hole of the leg puller and then pull them through the popper. You can put a spot of glue near each side to make sure they never come out.

11. All that is left to do is put your eyes on. I use Loctite Gel Super Glue for this. Just put a little dot on your eye and stick it on.

12. Your popper is now finished.

Fly of the Month – The Frosty Girdle

by Paul Beel: J. Stockard Pro Tyer Team Leader and owner of FrankenFly

This is a mishmash of several flies including Michigan Wet Skunk, Girdle Bug and Pat’s Rubber Legs. I’ve been toying with this for about a year and a half and added some materials to make it a bit more flashy, but white is definitely the main idea here. This was also just a fun fly to play around with. This is a fly that could be used for many species.
When you fish this fly it works the best if you throw it out and twitch it a bit here and there. The tail wags and you get a lot of movement from the legs as well. You can also swim this fly slowly if you wish.

Materials list:
Thread: Ultra Thread 140 denier – White
Hook: Firehole Outdoors 516 BL 60 Degree Heavy Jig Hook – size 6
Shank: Spawn Fly Fish Articulated Shanks – 20mm
Connection: 20lb Monofilament
Tail: Calf Tail
Legs: Round Rubber Legs
Rib: VEEVUS Iridescent Thread – Silver Snow
Body Dubbing: Hareline Hare’e Ice Dub – White
Weight: 0.015″ Lead Wire
Bead: Wapsi Painted Tungsten Bomb Beads – 5/32″ – white or any other similar size white bead

Tying Instructions:
1. Start with the 20mm shank and put it into your vise.
2. Wrap a thread base down on the entire shank closing the small gaps in the shank in the meantime.
3. Now tie in a small clump of calf tail on the back of the shank. This should be as long as the shank.
4. Next cut a piece of Round Rubber Leg that is two shanks in length. Line one end of the leg up with the end of the calf tail and tie it down on the shank. Now take the other end and move it over to the other side of the shank and tie it in. Both sides should be near the same length as the calf tail.
5. Take your Veevus Iridescent Thread and tie in one side of it right behind the calf tail on the shank. Leave it there and move it out of your way.
6. Now make a dubbing loop and put in your Hare’s Ice Dub. Use your dubbing loop tool to start wrapping it around the shank. Stop when you get to the middle of the shank.
7. You stop here so you can tie in a Round Rubber Leg on each side of the shank. These pieces of legs should be about the same length of the shank. Tie them down in the middle of the leg and put one on each side of the shank.
8. Now take your dubbing loop and continue wrapping it up the rest of the shank and tie it off with your thread.
9. Now you can take the Veevus Iridescent Thread you left hanging off the back and rib the fly by wrapping it over the dubbing leaving spaces in between each wrap.
10. Tie it off and whip finish.
11. Take your hook and slide your bead on. Put it in the vise and wrap a thread base across the shank.
12. Use your lead wire and wrap about 8 wraps up near the bead.
13. Now you need to use your monofilament and cut a small piece and run it through the eye of your shank. Take the two end pieces and line them up on top of the shank and make about 2 or 3 wraps. Pull the mono by the ends to pull the shank up near the hook bend. When it is close to the hook bend, start wrapping it down and just leave a small loop so your shank can move freely. Cut the ends of the mono off.
14. Do the same thing here as on the shank, tie on the end of the Veevus Iridescent Thread and leave it hanging out of the way.
15. Once again make a dubbing loop and use the Hare’s Ice Dub and wrap it until you get to the middle of the hook shank.
16. Tie in two more Round Rubber Legs on each side of the shank like you did on the back shank. This time make them a bit longer than the back ones.
17. Continue wrapping your dubbing up to and against the bead and tie off.
18. Take your Veevus Iridescent Thread and rib the fly just like you did on the back. Tie it off near the bead.
19. Whip finish and put a spot of glue or cement to help secure it. If need be you can place a little dubbing on the thread to help cover the thread wraps before you whip finish.
20. I like to use a dubbing brush and run it over the fly to make it more buggy.
21. Finished.

Brain Dead Poppers! New @ J. Stockard

Written by Paul Beel: J. Stockard Pro Tyer Team Leader and owner of FrankenFly

Brain Dead Poppers are block style poppers designed and cut by hand by me. They not only have popping capability but also can dive like using a lip on a lure or slide across the top of the water like skating flies or walking the dog style lures. It can be a popper, slider or diver. This is done by turning it in different ways. It’s a multi-purpose foam body!

You can click this link to purchase them here at J.Stockard.


Use a bodkin or Zuddy’s Leg Puller to puncture a hole through the popper head. Some tyers like to heat the bodkin or leg puller before inserting it into the foam to make it easier. But you can puncture the hole without doing that with practice.

When you puncture the hole and you are wanting to use the popper head as a popper, then I recommend making the hole a little lower than the mid-section of the popper so you have more foam on the top half to make a better pop or bloop in the water. See popper photo below.

Once you have your hole, you can slide the popper on the hook. I like to do this and then wrap some thread on the shank of the hook up against the popper so I have a reference of where I’m going to stop wrapping my materials.


Now you can remove the popper head and start wrapping your materials on the back. There is no exact way or specific materials you have to use. But one of the standard ways to do this is to just tie in a tail using marabou. Tie a couple of rubber legs on each side. Then tie in a schlappen feather or some Chocklett’s Filler Flash or Palmer Chenille. Anything you can wrap forward like you would for a streamer. I would tie it on and let it hang until you wrap some dubbing on the shank. I like to use Ice Dub. Then wrap your feather or chenille forward over the dubbing, like you would on a Woolly Bugger. Go all of the way up to where you wrapped your thread earlier and tie it off.


Before you are ready to place the popper head on the shank permanently, you need to build up some thread on the shank so the popper will seat firmly and not slide around the hook. Make many wraps so you build a thick base. You can slide the popper head on to test when you think you have enough.

Now you are ready to place some super glue down over the thread wraps you just made. You can use super glue gel or regular super glue. I would recommend Loctite Gel or Zap A Gap medium. Once you have the super glue on all around the thread wraps, then place your popper head on the shank and push it on. Turning the popper around the shank like a screw also helps. You need to do this fairly quickly, because the glue will dry quickly. Get the popper lined up correctly and leave it.


Rubber legs are definitely a good thing to put through your popper head. Use a Zuddy’s Leg Puller or large sewing needle to help pull your legs through. You can also place a spot of super glue around the legs to make sure they do not slide out.

You can also glue eyes on each side of your popper if you would like or leave it without any. I don’t think it will matter much to the fish.

Some tyers like to coat the popper head with UV resin or Epoxy. You can also use Liquid Fusion or Loon Outdoors Hard Head clear which you do not need a UV light for and are easier to work with than epoxy. This makes the popper head shiny and more durable. ***This is not required. I fish these poppers all of the time and never coat them with anything.


Size 2/0 in hooks like the Ahrex PR330 Aberdeen Predator Hook, TP615 Trout Predator Long or Partridge Universal Predator . These are light wire hooks that are excellent for poppers. You can also use a Gamakatsu B10S in a size 2/0. These hooks also have a wide gape for good hookups. There are many models that would work. You can usually figure out if the hook is going to work once you place it on the hook. Just make sure you have enough room to tie in materials and you have enough hook gape to hook a fish.



The best way to place the popper head on the hook if you are wanting to tie a popper is this: It will work if you turn the popper head upside down with the slant coming down from the top, but it doesn’t sit and land as well in the water. With the slanted side down it lets the popper sit in the water and land in the water better. When you pop it you get a big bloop out of the front of the popper.


The best way to position the popper head on the hook if you are wanting to tie a slider is this: This will slide or skate across the top of the water. You may be able to produce a Spook lure type of action if you make quick strips. When I say Spook, I mean like the classic bass lure.


The best way to position the popper head on the hook if you are wanting to tie a diver is this: This is the most challenging way to use Brain Dead Poppers because even by positioning the popper like this, it will dive, but it will not come back up to the surface correctly. This is where you as the tyer comes in. You have to design the back of your popper so it will dive and come back up to the surface while still riding correctly in the water so you can dive it again. Two of the ways you can do this is by one, tie some thin foam over the back of your popper. Two, you can experiment with adding weight.


If you would like to see a video, my good friend Svend Diesel did a tying video using a Brain Dead Popper.