Quite often we, at J&M Flies, are asked how we make our poppers. I had planned to make a tutorial about it but I haven't gotten around to it yet. It is in the works though. All of our poppers are painted and tied by hand. There is no factory except maybe the small one in my spare bedroom if you could count that. There are only two people involved in the process. Those two are J and M. J, that's me, puts all the bodies together, does the eyes, all of the stippling and the tying of hackle, legs and calf tail. M, AKA the wife, does all the prepping of the bodies, the sealing, base coats of paint and the varnish. I do believe we make a good team and we have the process down to a science now.
I think it is important to point out, again, that all of our poppers are painted by hand. This process certainly has its strengths and weaknesses. Our weakness seems to be time. Because there are only two of us, and because there are so many steps in the process, it can take a while to finish a batch for an order. Our goal was to have bodies prepped and painted for when the orders come in. We were able to do that for a while but so many orders have come in lately that we ran out of our stock. Of course this isn't a bad thing necessarily!
As for our strengths, first and foremost would be that they are made by hand and here in the U.S.A. Painted by hand also means that each and every popper is different from the one before as well as the one after. Some may see this as a weakness but I firmly believe that this is a strength. You are guaranteed to have a good quality popper that really can be one of a kind. Well you may order 3 or 6 of the same color combo, the stippling will be different on each and every one. With that being said, rest assured that you are still receiving high quality poppers. Because it is only my wife and I creating them, we pay special attention to each and every one. You won't get a fly with a clogged eye from us, and you won't get a fly that falls apart after three fish. Our poppers are designed to catch both fish and fisherman. Oh and they are proven patterns as well! I won't sell you anything I don't already use in my fly box.
So as for being made by hand, these are the tools we use. They were invented by a good friend down south who really is the master at stippling. Some from the various forums out there know of whom I am speaking. These tools are small brass dowel rods and sewing needles.
The stippling does take a long time. It takes me several hours to do a dozen poppers. Like I said earlier, I would like to and plan to do a tutorial in the future. Right now though, here is a glimpse of what is takes just to do the last part of the eyes.
And there you have it....a quick glimpse into how our poppers are made and why we think they are so wonderful!