The Plipper

Published Jul 16th 2006

Tube, foam, strips and a hook and not too much messing around


Home turf - A Plipper over the water it\'s meant to fish: a shallow pike lake with water lillies.
Home turf
Quite a few really strange contraptions have seen the light of day during my hunt for an easily tied and durable pike fly. The Plipper seen on this page is one of the branches of this sometimes really strangely evolving obsession.

This particular fly has quite a history.

One of my most successful sea trout patterns is a foam diver based on an original, which was designed for pike. I shrunk it to fit the meeker mouths of sea trout. I tied a few in the original size for pike, but honestly found the work too much. The foam would shred to atoms with the first strike, and trashing the newly tied fly with hook, rabbit strip and everything after a single contact, was not something I yearned for.
So I set out to make the simplest imaginable foam fly for pike. I wound up punching and folding a strip of foam to form a lip, forehead, and a body in one step.

Floating - The Plipper must float in order to make its plopping sound.
Prototype - This is an Early Plipper tied with tying thread and using a piece of silicone tube for the hook

The first ones were tied on large, inexpensive hooks, but of course still meant that the hook would be dumped if I dumped the torn-up fly. The concept was perfect for tubes. A shredded fly could be dumped without loosing the hook. Tubes it was.

The construction - These two specimens show the construction: tube, foam, strips, hook.
The construction
The first samples were tied with a tail. I skipped the tail.
The pike did not care.
The first samples were tied with tying thread, but whip finishing and varnishing was beyond what I wanted to offer this fly. I skipped the thread.
The pike did not care.

I simply started binding on the foam with small nylon strips for electrical cords. A couple of drops of superglue, two strips, snip, snip, and I was done. No thread, no vice, no nothing...
Lately I have even omitted the glue. I use pliers to tighten the strips and snip the tags. That yields a strong enough fly. I insert a large gape, short shank, straight eye hook directly into he plastic tube and save using a piece of silicone.

The name "Plipper"? Well, take a popper and give it a lip. What do you get?

Blueprint - The one-step construction drawing for \
Mounting the hook - If the hook eye does not fit into the fly tube, you can extend it with a small piece of soft tube. Thread the tippet through the tube, tie the hook on and pull tight.
Mounting the hook
The Plipper
Tube: Plastic 1½-2 inches
Foam: Colourful closed cell foam, 1½ millimetres thick
Glue: Instant super glue (optional)
Strips: For electrical wires. As small as you can get them
Hook: The Plipper is a large fly meant for pike, and the hook should reflect this. Use at least a size 4 or 2 single hook. Short shank, large gape hooks are suitable, and these can be found both in the saltwater and bait-hook (carp) assortments.

  1. Melt a small collar on a 1½ inch plastic tube
  2. Cut a 1 centimeters or a little less than ½ inch wide strip of floating foam
  3. Poke a small hole in one end of the foam
  4. Pass the tube through this hole
  5. Bend the foam in shape (See sketch)
  6. Bind the foam down with two small strips
  7. Pull strips as tight as you can (use pliers) and cut tags
  8. Trim the foam

This is a fly designed with two things in mind: easy and quick use-and-throw-away-construction and fish attacking in the surface!

I find that many short shank carp or salt water hooks work well. I almost always use plastic or silicone tube, clear or coloured, to guide the hook—unless it fits into the rear of the tube itself.

Colorful - If you want colors, do colors! The pike don\'t seem to care much.

User comments
From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted January 19th 2010

Reminds me of a simple version of Hansen's Electric Frog which I've been using for bass. Martin doesn't allow urls in the comments but you can find a picture with a web search.

From: Patrick Labarussias · pat.labarussias·at·  Link
Submitted September 20th 2008

This pattern in black, is good too for large freshwater bass (largemouth), but don't forget large rubber legs (Madam X style) when tying the strips. A large hook i.e salt bait hook in 2/0 or 3/0 gives better hooking (you need to use a soft tubing connection as in the older model).

From: Juso  Link
Submitted November 18th 2007

Have you get pikes with that?

From: Dave P · manitobanguy·at·  Link
Submitted February 28th 2007

Great fly Martin cant wait to try one. Took me a bit to figure out the tube part but I ended up using a q-tip and a wire casing from an old mouse that stretched to fit snuggly over the q-tip and hook eye. Very cheap to make and you save your hook. Fastest fly I ever made no vise needed or tying thread.

From: Rick Nelson · bluebill·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2007

Thanks Martin,

I made a few of these and can't wait to use them this spring. Great idea for a pike fly!


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 18th 2007


The collar can be made by holding the tube close to a flame. It will usually just melt and curl up nicely. The collar is not really necessary on this fly, but on other tube flies it's really nice to have because it keeps the thread and materials from slipping off the tube.

Regarding the hook it's quite simple: you pass the tippet through the tube from the front and tie on the hook before you pull and press it into the tube or the silicone extension.

Thread the tippet through the tube, tie it on and pull... simple as that!


From: Rick Nelson · bluebill·at·  Link
Submitted January 18th 2007

Hi Martin,

I just found this web site and your article. I love to fly fish for pike and am looking forward to trying this fly.

I do have a couple questions. First, it appears from the pictures that the tube extends over the hook eye so how do you attach the leader? Second, the directions say to melt a small collar on the tube. How do you do that?

Thanks for the help.


From: Ed Fack · fack·at·  Link
Submitted January 15th 2007

Martin thank you for the info. After looking at the older one I can see how the hook is used. Is this the way you tie the new version?? Great website

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 14th 2007


I could imagine that finding a hook with a sufficiently small eye to fit into a Q-tip could be a problem. In that case I would use a piece of soft plastic tubing to hold the hook. Pass it over the fly tube and stick the hook into the softer (and wider) outer tube.

You can see the construction on this older Plipper.

The tubes I use to tie the fly on are wide and soft nough to hold the hook directly.


From: Ed Fack · fack·at·  Link
Submitted January 14th 2007

I guess I'm missing something where do you get the plastic tube and does the tube extend passed the eye of the hook? I tried the Q-tip idea but could not get it over the eye of a #2 79580 Mustard hook. Thanks Ed, Wyoming

From: PatL · patlipsette·at·  Link
Submitted January 13th 2007

If you are looking for the closed cell foam go to walmart They are 33 cents a sheet

From: fontinalis fan · huntingnut·at·  Link
Submitted January 2nd 2007

What a great fly! I guide at a brook trout lake in Labrador. It has monster pike along with huge brookies. Been tying deer hair poppers all along. Very time consuming. Definitely going to give some of these a plop or two this coming season. (The brookies will likely hit them more than the pike! )

From: john dobber · dobs·at·  Link
Submitted November 26th 2006

thats insane

From: Soren · soren.finne·at·  Link
Submitted October 20th 2006

Martin, what a wonderful fly. I tied a couple this evening and went to the lake to try them, took one 2 kg pike and missed another who chewed the fly to thin strips.


From: Wavy Gravy · SeeYou·at·  Link
Submitted August 23rd 2006


Check out AC Moore (if you are in the US). I got 6 sheets in Letter size of different colours for $1. I guess, as Martin said, any craft shop should have similar items.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted August 23rd 2006


Actually I bought most of mine at Michael's Craft (comes in many colors, search for foam sheet) in the US, but they're available in local hobby shops here in Denmark too. If unable to find these (inexpensive) sheets of foam, try Rainy's - a company which has all sorts of foam products.


From: Hugo · hugoswann·at·  Link
Submitted August 23rd 2006

Looks like a great fly

Where do you manage to get these strips of foam from? I can only ever find blocks, thanks

From: Wavy Gravy · SeeYou·at·  Link
Submitted August 23rd 2006

I picked up some long shank, offset, size 2 hooks which were not specifically fly hooks. The offset bend needed to be straightened but they are a perfect length for what I wanted - basically a topwater gurgler lookalike for Bass. Using a yellow one I snagged 4 Bluegill in rapid succession when nothing else would work at all (dog days of summer and all that). Curiously the Bluegill don't care that they can't fit the Plipper in their mouths! Have yet to entice a bass but it's early days. Can't believe how simple these are to construct, yet the action both on top and when they dive (coz of the lip) is excellent. Let's have some more off the wall ideas.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted August 14th 2006


I wonder what you mean... respect? In what way is using a foam and plastic fly being disrespectful to the fish?

Garbage? Yes indeed! And I'm proud of it...
Simple, cheap and efficient? Yep!
Disrespectful? Not more than a couple of bags of flash or feathers from half a chicken on a hook if you ask me.


From: Bandi · taokotao·at·  Link
Submitted August 14th 2006

Guys, don't you respect animals? What is this? Garbage-world!
Innovative of course, but...

From: Anonymous  Link
Submitted August 1st 2006

I think I'll try this for bass

From: Kjetil · kanolsen·at·  Link
Submitted July 27th 2006

You can get those strips in different colours. If you use a red one in front it might look like gills.
Might improve it further.
I'll try to make some today.

From: Mike Hogue · mhogue·at·  Link
Submitted July 25th 2006

Might try use plastic q-tips for the tubes. To use those, just clip off the cotton ends. You can buy a box of those for around $3.00. I would add some rubber legs and a strike indicator to the back. So what you are really saying is that all these fancy bits are a waste of time? No jungle cock eyes, no seal fur and what no hackle?

From: Rama · ramirogm37·at·  Link
Submitted July 25th 2006

I really like this fly!!,It's simply cheap and durable ,i'm sure that it will work very good in saltwater( barracudas like this kind of lures) and I will try it with trairas and Dorados on my country (poppers get destroyed after two fishes).

From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted July 25th 2006

For it to be the Chernobyl Mauler, you would have to have another color or 2 sandwiched in there. =)

From: Dave Cook · djcook·at·  Link
Submitted July 24th 2006

How about adding some big wobbly legs Martin. Call it the "Chernobyl Mauler".
I can see a future for this "fly" for Barramundi in the billabongs and rivers of the Northern Territory. Just take a bag of the makings and assemble some on the spot.

From: Clyde E. Pullen · cepullen·at·  Link
Submitted July 23rd 2006

No offense, but, what an ugly fly!!!!
Good Sense, It CATCHES fish!!!
"The Proof is in the Pudding!" No matter how it looks to the fly tyer or the Traditionalist -- the only thing that matters is DOES IT CATCH FISH????
And if it does, and it does... then it doesn't matter what it looks like to you and me -- if the fish eat it -- then I get to eat the fish!!!
Thanks for the very innovative and inexpensive fly!!!
Hot Shot Clyde

From: Bernard · lariver·at·  Link
Submitted July 17th 2006

Neat fly. Simplicity is a wonderful thing. My first encounter with a pike was when I was fishing in Quebec for perch in a remote lake as a child. My bobber was attacked and bitten free by a large pike. Trying to retrieve the bobber with a massive treble hook, the fish took the treble as it skated over the water towards the once again visible bobber. I'll never forget that experience. I have since decided that pike just might eat anything and thus see the logic to your "tie".

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted July 16th 2006


I have tied smaller tube flies using the thin type of "medical tube" that has been seen utilized as inner tubes for cone head tube flies, and I'm sure this fly would do fine tied on a thinner diameter tube and using some thinner foam.

I have tied this fly on a small hook to use in the ocean for garfish and se atrout, but haven't used it so much that I have caught anything on it.

But I'm sure you are right: smaller Plippers would surely do fine for other species. Or how about a mega one for sailfish? ;-)


From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted July 16th 2006

Martin, that is one of the weirdest flies that I have ever seen--not that that's a bad thing. =) It's a new idea for me to tie cheap, expendable flies instead of making ultra-durable bunny bugs.

I bet it would work wonders on largemouth bass and a smaller version would be good for panfish.

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