Bob's Banger was developed by New Jersey saltwater fly fishing legend Bob Popovics. Beyond its effectiveness as a popper, it's durable, easy to fish and cast, and is relatively cheap to produce as compared to some of it's more elaborate brethren.
I've made a few adjustments to the original pattern, mainly because it was hard for me to find some of the recommended materials.
For the body, I like Wapsi 1.6 inch long Foam Cylinders. Both the 5/8ths inch diameter ones and the smaller 1/2 inch diameter ones work well. Here we're going to tie one using the 1/2 inch foam.
To maximize material usage, I use a razor blade to cut one of the cylinders in half as cleanly and as closely as possible. It's ok if they're not exactly the same size. Notice each segment has a factory end as well as the end you just cut.
Just by eye, mark the center of one of the halves with a pencil then flip it over and mark the other end. Push a dubbing needle, held square to the end of the cylinder, almost all the way through to the other side. Remove the needle and do the same at the other end. Doing it this way helps to make sure the hole goes right down the center of the cylinder. Remove the needle from the foam and heat it up really well with a lighter or a candle. Run it through the hole you just made to widen it just a little. Flip the cylinder over and repeat the process. The larger hole allows the foam cylinder to more easily slip over the hook eye.
To add color, flash and protection to the foam, I really like the prismatic sheets and eyes from Witchcraft Tape. Start with a single sheet of the adhesive backed tape. Mark the backing with a pencil at a length equal to that of your foam cylinder. I like to use a steel rule and a razor blade to cut the tape but scissors will also work. Remove the adhesive backing and align one edge of the tape with the factory end of the foam. This cleaner end will form the face of the Banger.
Eyes, although probably not an absolute necessity, really up the curb appeal of this pattern. Now that you've got the popper part of the fly almost complete, set it aside for the moment.
Although the original recipe calls for a 6X or longer hook, I found the Mustad 34011 4X long works quite well. Here I'm using a 2/0 to match the half inch foam body. With your hook in the vise, fit the cylinder over the hook eye and onto the shank.
Load a bobbin with reasonably heavy thread, here UTC 140 Denier in white. Start your thread on the hook shank right at the back edge of the foam and take a few wraps to secure it to the hook shank. You can then remove the foam cylinder so it doesn't get in the way. After snipping the tag end of the thread, take wraps rearward to about 1/4 of an inch in front of the hook point. This will be the tie-in location for the tail of the fly.
Snip a clump of buck tail free from the hide and strip out both the extra long and extra short hairs. Measure the clump against the hook. You want to end up with the tail that's about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times the entire hook length. Transfer the measurement to your other hand and then snip the butt ends off square. Holding on tight to the bundle, place it on the hook shank and take wraps to secure it. A drop or two of Zap-a-Gap on the wraps and the butt ends works wonders in terms of durability.
Estaz or Cactus Chenille is used to create the midsection on a Banger. To minimize waste, I'll leave the material in the bag with one end poking out through a hole. Strip a few of the fibers from the string core and then tie it in at the base of the tail. Work your thread up the shank to the tie-in point. Make adjacent wraps of the Estaz up the shank. A rotary vise will definitely make the job easier. When you reach the tie-in point, tie off the Estaz and then snip it off close, as you can see, there was no Estaz wasted.
Now once again, fit the foam onto the hook just to see how it looks. Not bad. Remove the foam and take wraps up the hook shank to the eye and then back down several times. The idea is to get the foam to fit more securely around the hook shank. Do a couple of 5 or 6 turn whip finishes to really secure the thread immediately behind the hook eye.
Now you've got a choice to make.
A: You can seal these wraps with a couple coats of Hard as Nails and when it completely dries, just slip the foam head over the eye and onto the shank and you're ready to fish. This allows fly heads and bodies to be interchangeable so you can mix and match colors or get rid of a piece that gets torn up by an ill tempered bluefish.
Choice B is to coat the thread wraps with Zap-a-Gap and then slide on the head. When the glue dries, the foam cylinder is on there to stay.
Although Witchcraft tape and eyes use remarkable adhesive, a quick skim of Hard as Nails over the tape joint and the eyes helps to ensure they don't work loose.
And there you have it. One regulation Bob's Banger ready to do battle with the toothiest of sea creatures. Try different colors and sizes. Bob's Bangers are a must have for any saltwater fly box.