Product Review: Gary Krebs Popper Jig Set

The Gary Krebs Popper Jig Set provides a simple, straight-forward means of transforming a plain foam cylinder into a cool looking, easy to cast, highly effective popper body.

See the ratty lookin’ popper pictured above? Half the legs gone, tooth divets and all? This was one of my very first attempts in making a popper using Gary’s popper jig set. The teeth marks left many many exciting and joyous memories. My poppers look more professional now, and they hold up better to coho salmon attacks, but this first popper did the job on silver salmon in fine fashion. Yeah baby.

We shot this series of videos to help understand the tool, show it in use, explore some of the “do’s and dont’s” of cutting popper bodies and gluing hooks into them, and finally featuring tying a popper with a body cut with the Gary Krebs Popper Jig tool. Well, in the spirit of easing the viewer’s pain, we chose to break up the videos into a series of short segments.

Please, please, read the information and do not go straight to the videos. Probably too late for that, but here is why. I was a novice at using Gary’s Popper Jig set when I shot these videos for Chris. Experimentation, actual reading of directions, and a conversation with the right honorable Mr. Krebs hisself and 10 days on the water fishing these poppers for silver salmon have taught me a few things that are either understated or just plain wrong in the video. I will try to straighten us up in text and you can edit out the garbage when you watch the videos if you would be so kind.

First retraction/correction is as follows: Gary recommends using a thread base on your hook to glue into the popper body. I demonstrated gluing a bare hook into the foam. It turns out that my simpler method does work but only about 25% of the time. The other 75% leaves you with a nice popper-less popper. Sorry. I am a guy and figured that the actual directions were overkill. Not so. Laying down a solid thread base before gluing in the hook to the slit in the foam popper body is not negotiable. Period.

Then there is the matter of making a clean straight cut in the foam to insert the hook into. Straight from Gary is shown below a great way of doing so. Use a sharpie of other marker to locate the center of the front of the popper. Then make a little mark centerline in the front and rear of the underside of the popper. These are now your guide to lay your blade down and smoothly slice up to just short of the center of the front (dot) and rear (edge of the rear slant). Then coat the thread base with Zap Gel, top, sides, and bottom – squeeze open the slit in the popper body, and shove the hook into the gap. Gary likes to tie the back of the popper first, then glue on the foam later. I prefer to glue on the foam first and then tie my dressings on the rear of the popper later, adding the rubber legs as the last step. Whatever process you use, make sure to lay the thread base down to enhance the holding power of the Zap Gel and make the body virtually impervious to popper chomping fish.

Her are the photos showing my humble corrections to portions of the video, and Gary, please accept my apology and the fact that I am steep on the popper learning curve. I still like the alternative means of inserting the rubber legs, using more of the wiggly stuff than Gary does, but again, you should play with the threading needle and the hole drilling method to see what works best for you.

And yes, use the needle to pin the foam in the jig before making your cuts. And yes, if you cleverly (like Gary says in the directions) align the rear of the foam cylinder with the vertical slot, you will be able to get two popper bodies out of all foam sizes.

Our friends at Hareline Dubbin scour the world for innovative, cutting edge fly tying tools and materials to add to their product line each year. We will be showcasing many of these through videos and flies tied with new tools and materials.

Materials shown in these videos:
Gary Krebs Popper Jig Set
River Road Foam Cylinders
Gamakatsu Hooks
Grizzly Rubber Legs
Enhancer Rubber legs
Zap Gel
Lagartun 150 D Thread
Krystal Flash

The Gary Krebs Popper Jig Set. This video features the two sizes of popper jigs – the small and large. The video de-mystifies the fact that the two jig sets imply the existence of 6 foam sizes, but in reality, only five sizes are offered in the Hareline Catalog. This is a wonder that can only be understood by viewing the video.

Securing a hook in a foam popper body. Remember the corrections noted above. Lay down a thread base before using Zap Gel to glue in the hook to the slit in the popper body. Please. Thank you.

Threading rubber legs in a foam popper body. A bit of a mystery solved here.

Guing Eyes to Popper Bodies

This final video brings it all together here, creating a gorgeous popper that salmon are sure to love. At least we think so. Maybe Carp too. Point is, the popper jig makes easy work out of shaping the popper bodies.

That is what I drafted weeks ago. Ten days on the water fishing these poppers so far have brought heart pounding boils and wakes every day. Many silvers hooked, many lost, and many poppers pulled out of open salmon mouths too. Amazing, my salmon world has expanded considerably thanks to Gary and Chris, who chained me to a table at the Caddis Fly to shoot these videos.

Now get out there and tie a dozen of these beauties and catch silvers, or kings, or blues, or tarpon, or Grand Trevalley. Just do it for goodness sake.

Jay Nicholas
October 2011


Foam Bodied Popper

Hook: Gamakatsu B10S #2
Thread: Lagartun 150D
Popper Body: River Road Foam Cylinders
Popper Shaped With: Krebs Popper Jig Set
Legs: Grizzly Barred Rubber Legs Chartreuse
Eyes: Adhesive Eyes Hareline
Glue: Zap Gel
Tail/Skirt: Enhancer Legs/Krystal Flash, Eumer Finnish Racoon

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3 Responses to Product Review: Gary Krebs Popper Jig Set

  1. Two dogs says:

    So…….wheres the real JN?

  2. Two dogs says:

    C mon….Jay is out fishing, you needed some videos, so you brought in Tim from Tool Time. Can’t fool me. And I bet that Chris really has a beard and a flannel shirt…so we know who these guys are….hardware dudes. Ha. Caught ya. Juat kidding.

  3. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    The real JN is indeed fishing, and sending hot photos from the coast to the fly shop. Or he is napping at his computer at home. He is, after all, semi retired, right and probably needs those naps. Ha ha. JN

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