Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sheldon Bolstad's Blockhead Popper

Photo Courtesy of The Smallmouth Angler
I know, I know...I just had a blog post saying No to Foam, but if you are going to use foam use this pattern.  Hugh Langevin is the creator of this pattern and you'll be hard pressed to find a popper that works as good as these do.  Let's talk about some of the benefits shall we?
  • It's lightweight.  This sucker is so light you can cast it down to a 5wt.  Sometimes you just don't feel like lugging an 8wt around all day.  The Blockhead gives you options on the water and I like options.
  • The Blockhead Popper has great popping ability!  You can cast the Blockhead and have it sit quietly or you can cast it and raise a major ruckus.  I have never seen a popper with such popping action.  When you look at it it just doesn't seem special, but looks are deceiving - this popper can create a wake!
  • They are really durable - even for foam.  The foam used to form the heads is some super tough stuff.  Many guys hack the heads out with a band saw and others use a razor blade, either way you can't cut this stuff without exerting a little elbow grease.
  • The Popper is time tested.  Hugh LangevinSheldon Bolstad, Tim Holschlag and Dan Johnson have put this fly to the test and it has produced time and time again.
  • The pattern is actually pretty simple after you shape the head.  Once the head is in place you just have to tie on some marabou or squirrel tail.   Don't make the tail section too complicated because the magic is in the head with its flat face and super splashing tendencies.
  • It's a pretty inexpensive fly to put up.  The block of foam yields piles of poppers and you can't get cheaper than marabou or squirrel tails.  I get the blocks of foam for $3 and the hooks I use are the Mustad 33903 Kink Shank Hook or the Mustad 3366 and they work perfect.  Both of these hooks are available for a great deal at Captain Hooks.  It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to be a producer.
I have some scans of notes taken at a fly tying event conducted in 1996.  Print the directions and give this pattern a whirl.  Your local fly shop will have the block foam and try not to get too frustrated cutting the is frustrating for everybody.  Besides, if you don't want to make them you can buy them from The Smallmouth Angler.

Blockhead Page 1

Blockhead Page 2

Block Head Page 3

Blockhead Page 4

Blockhead Page 5


  1. A little off on this information. Hugh is the originator of the block head popper, look at letter from Hugh that you posted. Sheldon originated the diver and went on to popularize both by tying them commercially.

  2. I stand corrected, thank you for the information.