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.