Outside of Copic (and other spray guns), the use of markers on foam heads just looks wrong and amateur.  Its for that reason alone that I hardly have any poppers in my fly box.  They look shit.  Then I saw Arno VD Nests crease flies, covered in Mylar (an oversized variety thats almost impossible to source).  Glen managed to get a hold of some and it account for his magnificent GT taken in the surf in Mozambique.

I’d walked past the Jigskinz display a 1000 times, and then one day a penny dropped and I thought maybe this is the answer to my ugly foam heads.  There is a trick to it, and the Jigskinz are expensive, but the result just looks…Right.

Jigskinz popper head fly Jigskinz popper head fly Jigskinz popper head fly Jigskinz popper head fly Jigskinz popper head fly

the how:

There are various sizes, your only limitation is minimum size the material will shrink to. I found it best to use the size that’s about 130% of your head size.

Cut the skin slightly longer than needed. Its easy to trim down.

My first method was using a piece of plastic to stop the shrink from deforming the foam head.  With harder foam this isn’t necessary.  I later learnt the best way is to do a quick dip, so that about 70% of the shrinking takes place.  This gives you a chance to reposition the skin so that the darker/lighter textures are where you like.  Trim the additional material away with scissors or knife.  Make sure to dip the entire shrink at the same time to avoid distortion.  Play around with foam densities and head designs until you get a post shrink result you’re happy with.  I eventually folded foam (crease fly style) around a piece of vertical foam glued to the shank.  This technique meant a softer foam could be used without distortion and gives a nice wide frontal surface area with a natural radius around the top edge.

finished product.  Stick on sheet eyes adhere perfectly.

Because there is no adhesive under the skin, it tends to move and gather water,  There are two ways around this that I found work;
1) slide the skin back and forward to expose foam which can be superglued, or use a bodkin to get glue underneath
2)coat the foam with silicon before the shrink.  The silicon doesnt react to the heat and seats nicely.  The trick here is using the perfect amount to make sure you don’t get silicon all over the wing and tail…but thats removable anyway if it gets into the synethics.