Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Popovics' Surf Candy


Text and Photos by Andrew Susani and Andrew Wheeler

Hook Mustad 34007 or Gamakatsu Trey Combs (pictured)
Thread Mono Thread or 1kg mono line
Body Supreme Hair and Epoxy
Flash Krystal Flash or Comes Alive
Eyes Holographic Stick-On Eyes
Gills Red Texta (optional)

This pattern was developed by Bob Popovics in the late 1980's for use on bluefish (tailor), striped bass and a host of other gamefish that frequented the surf beaches around his home in New Jersey. He wanted a fly that would be easy to cast, bear a good resemblance to a baitfish and most importantly, be resistant to the teeth of the bluefish. This pattern is simple to tie once the tier becomes familiar with handling and distributing the epoxy, and can be fashioned to resemble almost any of our small smelt and whitebait, in both fresh and saltwater. This fly, in a range of sizes, is a must have for any serious saltwater fly fisherman.

Tying Procedure

1. Start the thread off just behind the eye of the hook. Tie in a length of silver ribbing (to imitate a lateral line) and wind it to cover the hook shank. Then wind it back forward and tie off at the eye. Trim a section of Supreme Hair then even the tips of the synthetic. Place approx 3mm from the eye and then tie in. To be sure that it is held in place tightly a dab of superglue can be used. Place your thumbnail on top of the fibres and gently push down to allow the material to evenly spread around the hook.

2. Take 3-4 strands of Comes Alive or a similar material and tie down. Comes Alive is springy out of water so to control the material, wet your fingers and stroke the Comes Alive back. The moisture 'sticks' the curly filaments together temporarily and makes it much easier to work with. Once the flash is tied down, take another bunch of Supreme Hair in a contrasting colour. Tie this down in the same fashion as stated in step 2. Then finish the head off by building up thread and whip finishing. Add a drop of super glue for security if you wish.

3. Mix the epoxy on a piece of plastic with either mono fishing line or a match stick. In cooler weather it may be necessary to heat the epoxy in hot water first to make it easier to work, and also add slightly more hardener to allow quicker setting. Do not stir to quickly as this will add air bubbles to the mix. Start applying the first coat, but use only enough epoxy so that it will soak into the material. This will give you a basic form to shape the second coat later. Apply the epoxy only back to the bend of the hook.

4. Once the epoxy has soaked into the material then pull the fibres back allowing it to set. If any excess starts to run just take the monofilament used to mix it and place it back to the top of the fly. You will have to hold it back for 2-3 minutes before it starts to set.

5. Once the epoxy has dried, add some eyes with superglue and also as an option some red gills can be painted on. 
6. Add a second coat of epoxy using the mono to shape the body form. Only add epoxy as needed as too much will spoil the fly. 
7. Once you have achieved the desired body shape, rotate the fly to stop the epoxy running. Allow at least 2-3 minutes for the epoxy to harden enough so you can stop rotating. Then take it out of the vice and allow it to fully harden. 
8. Take a sharp pair of scissors and trim the tail to the appropriate length and profile. A good way to trim the tail is to turn the fly side on and use the strands of flash as a centre line, trimming the top and bottom until the body is symmetrical around the flash strands.

9. The fly is now ready to do battle. If you find that you have not put enough hardener in the mix and the fly won't cure, you can coat the fly in nail polish which usually cures the epoxy.

Tips

Epoxy is best mixed on a piece of plastic (such as a zip-lock bag) using a piece of 150lb mono. Once it has dried, the epoxy can be scraped off each one with you fingernails and both can be reused. All 5 minute epoxies will eventually go yellow when exposed to sunlight, so it's important to pick a good clear one to start with. Bostik Epoxy is not only cheap ($6), but it is very clear and takes a long time to go yellow, even in direct sunlight. Andrew Wheeler uses Z-Poxy, which is dearer, but it is even better. I have seen flies tied with Devcon go yellow while they are still in the shop, which is very bad, so I would not recommend using it. If you don't mind a yellow tinge to your epoxy, or if you will be painting over the epoxy so it doesn't need to be transparent, then anything will do - even 5 minute Araldite. 

Supreme Hair is not the only material you can use on this style of fly, but it is probably the easiest to use. Polafibre, Kinkyfibre, Hi-Vis and most other synthetics work well, but can be hard to apply epoxy to. There is an excellent variation that uses marabou as a body material, but like bucktail, these flies may look good but are extremely weak which makes them prone to being easily torn apart by fish (and even casting).

The best flash material we have come across is Comes Alive. We have used all of the other brands on the market and nothing comes close to the realism and light reflection this stuff offers. Most people who have been brought up on Flashabou and Krystal Flash complain that Comes Alive is too curly to work with, and is difficult to tie down on a hook as it never lays flat. I don't know about you, but I would rather have a realistic fly than have one that is easy to tie and doesn't look as good. Put some Comes Alive in the water and see for yourself.

To make super realistic baitfish copies, Bob Popovics paints the belly section of the fly with a good quality metallic silver paint. This is applied after the second coat of epoxy, but for increased durability it might be worth applying after the first coat, then laying the second coat of epoxy over the top.

For all the original instructions and methods, see: 'Pop Fleyes' by Bob Popovics and Ed Jaworowski