by Frank Dalecki, Jr.
John Ryzanych of Softex has come up with an interesting use of
his product and braided tubing. When he sets up his display, he often
facinates show-goers by cranking out Airhead Popper/Wobblers.
The things are lighter than foam poppers, durable, and with an endless
variety of coloration and dressings. It was one of those patterns that
makes you want to kick yourself silly for not having thought of first.
Ryzanych makes his poppers from the tubing, tied off at both ends of the
hook shank, and coated with Softex. This seals air inside.
The pattern directions can be had from Softex dealers or by contacting
Softex's parent company, ICON Products in Castro Valley, California (510-881-8210).
The one drawback John encountered in creating this pattern was hooks.
"It needs an extra-long shank," he said, "so I've been
using Tiemco popper hooks. You know, the kind with the small hump in the
shank. There are other hooks in the same style, but I haven't been able
to find them in a small enough size." A large hook adds too much
weight, distorting the popping action. John recommends keeping it around
1/0 or 2/0.
After seeing John do his thing at the The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset,
New Jersey, I gave the popper pattern a try, using Mustad 34011 long-shank
hooks. As John said, things weren't quite the same. I felt I needed about
another one-half inch of shank to get things right, but then I hit upon
reversing John's method. The result was not a popper, but a Softex
Slider that works on the 34011, rides about one-third out of the
water, casts well, and looks like a winner. What's more, it's a simple
tie, using hooks and materials you probably already have on your tying
Mustad 34011 (Size Optional)
Clear Mono Tying Thread
Corsair or EZ-Body Tubing (Color Optional)
Tailing Material (Type & Color Optional)
Prism Stick-On Eyes
Step 1: Tie in a length
of your tailing material about as long as the hook shank a little before
the hook bend and on top of the shank. I've used Pearl Sparkleflash from
TieWell in the example, but you can use any color or type of material
that suits you. If you would like a more active pattern, try tying in
several ostrich herls along with some synthetic flash. The only thing
you need to be concerned about is to not add too much weight to the rear
of the pattern or the slider may not float properly. Don't finish off
your tie yet, but add a little drop of Softex just to keep everything
2: Cut a length of tubing approximately 1.5 times the
length of the shank. Slip it over the shank, and tie it in at the tailing
material. It only takes about one minute for the Softex to set up, so
your thread should be digging into that little drop you added in the previous
step. That's fine. We're looking to make a watertight seal.
Trim away the frayed ends of the tubing material, and tie off your thread.
3: Now move to the front of the hook. If you push the
tubing back toward the bend, you'll see that it starts to fold over itself,
suddenly looking very much like the back of a slider, or, for that matter,
the front of a popper. In fact, if you were tying John's popper, you would
pretty much follow the same steps, except for tying the rear of the tubing
in at the hook eye, and pushing it completely inside out and over itself
to the bend. All you have to do to tie the Slider is bring your thread
a little behind the eye, pinch and draw the forward edge of the tubing
so that it narrows down at the eye, tie it in, trim, whip finish, and
you're done. If it hasn't already done so on its own, squeeze, push, and
shape the tubing into a slider profile. Note that the body may look too
thin to you right now, but that will change.
Step 4: This is the most
critical step, and the one that will determine whether or not your slider
floats or sinks. Dip a bodkin, straightened paper clip, toothpick, etc.,
into the Softex and rake it over the mesh in the tubing, glazing over
all of the tiny openings. Be particularly mindful to seal the front and
rear ties. This is where the mesh tends to spread, leaving larger openings.
Give the Softex about a minute to dry, and add a second light coat. What
you're doing is trapping the air inside, and making the body watertight,
without filling your slider with Softex.
Softex evaporates quickly, so keep replacing the top of the jar.
Step 5: Examine your
slider closely. If all of the mesh is sealed, you can go ahead and dip
the entire body into the jar of Softex. A locking forceps is a handy tool
here. Lock it onto the hook bend, dip, tap off the excess, rotate the
pattern in your hand to distribute the Softex evenly, and set the forceps
on the edge of a table until the pattern dries. Two or three dips should
give you a large, floating target.
Add the stick-on eyes before the last dip. You can also add color and
markings (red gills, etc.) with permanent ink markers before the final