Tying Matt Zudweg's Zudbubbler
In my world, one of the best things about a warm summer is the explosive strikes from smallmouth and largemouth bass as they inhale my popper. I love fishing poppers for bass. It's nearly as exciting to me as catching big brown trout on dry flies.
The instructions below illustrate how to tie the Zudbubbler – my favorite popper. It's the creation of Capt. Matt Zudweg, who guides for Feenstra Guide Service on Michigan's Muskegon River and also owns BoneYard Fly Gear.
When tied properly, this is one effective and durable bug. Nearly any color combination is possible, but favorites include combinations of yellow, green, black and orange.
Step 1: Purchase some soft-foam floor panels. I usually find them at Home Depot, Lowe's and other building stores. They're made for kids' rooms, they're inexpensive and one 2x2 panel will tie hundreds of poppers.
Step 2: With a razorblade and straightedge, cut the foam into strips that are about 3/4" wide. This will be the length (not the width) of the popper body. From the strip, cut tapered bodies that are about 1/2" wide at the front and about 3/8" wide at the rear. As seen in the photo, the best foam has a texture on one side. Make this the bottom, because the texture will trap air bubbles under the popper.
Step 3: With a razor blade, trim the front of the body to form a downward taper as shown.
Step 4: Using a good-size bodkin, poke a hole near the bottom of the body, from front center to rear center.
Step 5: Slide the body onto a size 3/0 #2720 Daiichi Stinger hook. Do not use glue yet. Secure 3/0 Uni-Thread to the hook just behind the popper body and wind back up the hook to just behind the body.
Step 6: Secure a marabou feather on top of the hook. Color is your choice.
Step 7: Secure one barred rubber leg (folded over) to each side of the hook. Again, color is your choice.
Step 8: Secure a hackle feather (black schlappen shown) by the tip, then dub some Ice Dub or Senyo's Laser Dub onto the thread and wind forward, leaving the right amount of room for the popper body. The color of the dubbing is not critical, although I prefer olive or black.
Step 9: Wind the hackle forward over the dubbing and secure, then wind the thread forward to the hook eye, (cover the hook completely, as this thread will be a good base for the glue used to attach the body securely to the hook). Whip finish.
Step 10: Apply a generous amount of Zap a Gap CA glue to the thread and slide the body in place. Attach doll eyes and rubber legs as shown. To attach legs, create another hole in the body, this time through the side, then use a mono loop, threader or needle to string the legs through. Add spots to the foam body using a green or black Sharpie and mark a red lip with a red Sharpie (not necessary, but it looks cool).
Step 11 (Optional): Lightly stroke a Sharpie on the textured underside of the popper body to hit just the high spots. This helps break up the solid color from the fish's point of view.