Master NZ fly tier Steve Grace created the stunning Pandemic Popper to keep himself amused during the COVID-19 lockdown. He very kindly shared the pattern and tying instructions with AANZ: –

  • Place a hole on your popper head with a hot bodkin. I heat mine with a lighter.





  • Push the hook eye through from the back of the head and super glue in place.
  • Set to dry for 5 minutes or so.
  • Grab your indelible coloured felt pens (e.g. Sharpies) and start colouring. Start with the centre and use the darkest blue with a rib pattern extending out from the spine. Leave gaps between each rib for the next lightest colour.


  • Use the next lightest blue to fill in the gaps and vary the lengths of each just slightly. Again, leave gaps for the next colour.



  • Use a lighter green to transition into lighter shading on the sides, followed by yellow on the lower side and transitioning into grey on the bottom.
  • Leave gaps in the grey colouring and a few small dots on the belly, allowing the white foam colour to create the centre bottom of the popper head to look like a natural fish belly.



  • Coat the head in 2 coats of Solarez UV thin resin and set with the Solarez UV Torch.


  • Take your chosen 4mm eyes and superglue in place. *Note this step is optional.



  • Using a drop of Solarez UV thin over the eyes, set them in place with the UV torch.
  • Cast on behind the popper head with 6/0 white thread or similar.
  • Tie in a length of medium copper wire in your chosen colour. I’ve used blue to match with the head.
  • Tie in 4 strands of Spiral UV Crystal Flash and divide so you have 2 either side if the hook.
  • Dub on a body of any UV glister sparkle dubbing. Anything will do as long as its pearl or similar.


  • Take 2 died strung rooster hackles and pair them up with the underside of each feather facing inward. Tie in behind the popper head. Remove some of the fibers from the underside so the feathers sits directly on the dubbed body.


  • Rib the fly with your copper wire, dividing the hackle fibres as you wind forward. Keep the space between each rib as even as possible. Tie off behind the popper head.



  • Take another strung rooster hackle, one with a fluffy base and tie in at the base of the feather. Make a few wraps and wind enough on to bulk up the fly just behind the head. Stroking the fibers back as you wind each wrap forward of the previous wrap.


  • Cast off.




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