Dragon Toe

Guest Blogger: Paul Beel, J Stockard Pro Tyer and Owner of FrankenFly

The switch to Rainy’s poppers was not a quick one for me, but I am now converted. The delay was probably due to the help I received from friends I had that were cutting foam and sending me cylinders I could use for poppers. These worked ok for a time, but being a professional tier, I needed popper bodies that were readily available, professionally made, and came in a variety of shapes and sizes.

I ordered my first batch of Rainy’s popper bodies a couple of years ago. I had primarily used large and small foam cylinders in the past as my main targeted species were smallmouth and largemouth bass. (Don’t assume you would only use the large poppers for the largemouth. Smallmouth will eat large poppers with no trouble at all.) Getting a replacement for the smaller poppers was my first priority. I tried Rainy’s Pre-shaped Bass Pops right off the bat and they were perfect for what I needed. They have a nice pop and the foam was much harder and better than those homemade cylinders I was using.

The other type of popper I enjoy using is the Rainy’s Mini-Me’s in medium. You don’t have that flat side on the bottom like you do with the Pre-Shaped Bass Pops, but that isn’t a big deal because the hook will make sure it rides right on the water’s surface. With the upward cupped oval shape you get a nice splash of water as well. They are close to the same size of popper as the medium Bass Pops, but just a little shorter in length. They are my go-to popper for finicky smallmouth on the creeks and rivers nearest to me. There is no need to continuously strip and pop. Let the popper sit and give it a twitch now and then is a good technique.

When I really fell in love, was when I started using Rainy’s cone-type popper bodies. I love the size and look of these. After messing around for a little bit, I started with using two hooks and created an articulated popper. I used a full cone on the front hook and one of their Pencil Poppers on the back hook. (#2/0 Partridge Universal Predator hook with the cone on the front and a #1/0 on the back with the Pencil Popper.) It worked great! I also tied a similar configuration using a shank with a medium Rainy’s Half Cone on for the front segment instead of the hook. This size fit well on a 40mm shank. I then attached a #2/0 hook to the back and threw in some feathers with a little foam in the back for floatibility and loved how it came out!

Last but not least, my favorite among Rainy’s poppers is the new PSP Popper/Diver Heads. You can use these as a popper or turn it the other way and it will dive and come back up to the surface. I use the PSP Head on my FrankenFrog creation. It has an amazing pop in the water. The large curvature popper easily throws the water as you pop it. It floats just as well as all of the other Rainy’s poppers, perfect. I highly recommend you give it a try.

I don’t normally go into painting my poppers as I tend to go with the bare minimum so that I can just get the flies tied and get them out the door, but you can paint your poppers the way you want. I am happy to tell you that all of Rainy’s foam poppers are friendly to nearly every acrylic, oil based, and enamel paints (and glues) available. You can also use a Sharpie (or similar) permanent marker to add a few dots or stripes. This is the process I use and I think it has a terrific effect on my FrankenFrog especially. If you are like me and just want to keep it simple you can. The finished shape and quality of Rainy’s poppers are good enough to leave plain. It is true that all the gloss and shine is beautiful and looks fantastic, but it can cost you a lot of time. That is actually another good reason I like Rainy’s poppers. Not only are they versatile, but they are super convenient and save me time in tying, are better finished quality, and are made of a more durable foam than other poppers on the market.

It took me awhile, but I finally made the switch and I’m glad I did. With Rainy’s coming out with even more styles, I may have to add even more to my popper arsenal.



  1. Hi Paul, awesome looking creations! That “evil” looking black snake thing, fantastic. The FrankenFrog is a work of art., Very creative use of articulation and foam, the knotted legs, Egor would be proud.??
    I’ve cut my own cylinders from those foam blocks used for car topping canoes. I cut them using metal cigar tubes or sharpened metal tubes like pen barrels, even brass from riffle cartrides – 22s make nice small ones. Lots of fun cutting and shaping. But that’s a great line of popper styes that still allows creativity without all the fuss and extra time. Thanks for sharing the process!

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