Here's the finished product. I put a dab of blue paint in the yellow and came up with a dark green to custom paint the back.
Belly and face of popper left yellow. Still haven't decided how to finish it off....hair or feather legs?
I wonder how many of you "float test" your poppers? I have a large, clear plastic bowl that I fill with water and I toss them into as soon as I get the hook attached. If the popper doesn't look right at this point I can add weight in the hook slot. I check it again after finishing and if it still doesn't sit right I can add some lead wire on the hook before finishing. "Look right" is a personal thing at this time as I haven't seen much written on the "proper way."
About the durability of cork vs. the various synthetic options. The finish I use has proven to be quite durable and one hard foam #4 pencil popper in my box has 30 bass to its credit with a couple over 3 lb. and the finish is still good. I don't have sufficient experience fishing cork to comment at this time but I expected these cork poppers to do well.
Some comments on poppers:
“Though poppers with cupped-out faces push water differently than ones with flat faces, I don’t think a flat-faced popper moves any less water. I prefer flat-faced poppers because they are easier to tie and, when designed properly, are easier to pick up on the backcast than a popper with a cupped-out face.” Bob Clouser
“Some poppers have longer bodies than others or have rear portions the same diameter as the front. These require longer-shank hooks, making hooking easier. A short popper body with a slanted rear section does not need a longer-shank hook in order to do its job. In general, I’ve found that a popper that has a downward slant to its rear portion aids in hooking ability. The blunt or large-diameter front portion of the popper forces the mouth of the fish to open during the strike, and the downward slant of the back portion allows the mouth to close down on the hook shank.” Bob Clouser
“Don’t ever dip cork bodies in the paint to coat them. Now this might just be another of my eccentricities but I think a dipped cork body looks like any other cheap mass produced item. All of the cork body lures that you make and all of the flies for that matter may not look like the handiwork of a master craftsman but they should look like the work of a highly interested person who is doing his level best. It is not aptitude but attitude that turns out good fishing lures.” Tom Nixon
Cork is not carved like balsa. The “best” method IMO to “shape” cork is with abrasives. Use thin saw blades to cut hook slots and reduce a large cork prior to using the abrasives to final shape. .
IMO cork quality is always desired but only creates structural and durability concerns with small bream poppers.
Hobby lathes and drills or Dremels fitted with “cork holding” devices can be used to reduce or rough out a blank from large corks.
Wine corks or cork bottle stoppers provide the greatest pool of cork for making larger poppers. Larger hard foam popper bodies are available but limited.
It is not written in stone that poppers must have round bodies and cupped faces or exquisitely primed, painted and epoxied bodies.