Flopper (the fallen
by Jason Akl
With the end of winter only a few
months away, a sense of urgency swells in the minds of most serious fly tiers. Choosing
what patterns one is going to fill their fly boxes with is not an easy decision for most,
but stocking up with a few terrestrial patterns could never be wrong.
Terrestrial patterns encompass a
large group of flies varying from ants and beetles to field mice. Although these other
land loving critters sound like fun to tie and fish; nothing beats splashing around with
robust hopper patterns. The beauty of these flies is that they evoke vicious strikes from
hearty trout while at the same time being very easy to fish. Hopper patterns are basically
large dry flies that require no soft subtle presentation. The louder the plop on the
landing the better. If you have ever witnessed an actual grasshopper fall to the water's
surface you have seen that they are not an insect who gives up easily. These feisty
critters will kick and scratch their way to the water edge or die trying.
The flopper is a hopper pattern
that differs from most others because it is not fished like a traditional dry, but rather
in the surface film or submerged like a wet fly. The flopper represents a drowned or live
hopper that has been pulled under the water surface by the turbulent current. Since the
fly is tied without the use of foam or excessive buoyant materials plus having a thick
shag body getting down deep in the water column should not be too much of a problem. The
best conditions for using this fly pattern are fast flowing rocky rivers surrounded by
long grassy fields. Simply cast the fly across and upstream from the target rocky run, and
give one or two quick strips of line to pull the fly under. After the fly is submerged or
riding low in the film, let it drift as drag free as possible, but be sure to collect the
extra line as the fly nears your position. Watch how the fish react to the fly. If they
are taking the fly early in the drift, while the fly is still riding high in the water
column, a little floatant applied to the bullet head will keeping the fly floating just
beneath the surface and the fish happy. If the fish are waiting for the fly to reach the
depths of the run a lead free shot applied a foot above the fly will help to get the fly
down faster. If you are seeing fish follow your fly but not take it, try giving the fly a
few upstream strips near the end of the drift, this sometimes help those indecisive fish
to bite down and bite down hard.
Materials Used In the
Flopper fly pattern
Hook: Tiemco 200R Size
Body: Yellow Hareline Dubbing
Underwing: Red Deer Hair
Wing: Mottled Turkey Feather
Head: Brown Deer Hair
Antennae: Stripped Grizzly Hackles
Legs: Montana Fly "Legs On A Stick", Yellow
Indicator: Orange Egg Yarn (optional)
Thread: Uni-Thread Tan 8/0
1. Start this fly
by placing the hook into the vise securely and attaching your thread just behind the hook
2. Wind your
thread to the point above the barb and form a large dubbing loop. Place some of the yellow
dubbing into the loop and spin it into a tight rope. With your dubbing needle or a
toothbrush tease out the dubbing rope and cut the shaggy dubbing down close to the center
of the rope. Smooth all the extending dubbing fibers to one side of the rope and proceed
to wrap the up the body of the fly. You might need to make two to three dubbing ropes to
cover the entire body of the fly, depending on how much dubbing you place in the loop at
one time. Just remember with each new dubbing rope you make to cut the teased out fibers
just a little longer each time to get a nice tapered shape to the body.
3. After you have
reached the halfway mark on the hook shank with the dubbing, clip and stack 7-10 red deer
hairs. Tie these hairs on top of the back of the fly and clip the tag ends short. The deer
hair should reach just about to the end of the hook shank.
4. With a small
application of flexament fix a small section of fibers from a mottled turkey feather.
Allow the flexament to dry and cut the end of the wing into an arc shape before tying it
down on top of the fly body. The wing should extend almost to the end of the fly but be a
little shorter than the red deer hairs.
5. With the wing
in place clip two separate legs (one from the right and left sides of the feather) from
the Montana Fly Company "Legs On A Stick". If you want can tie your own pheasant
tail legs by knotting a few of the feathers you have lying around, but believe me the time
and headaches you will save but purchasing these premade can not be understated enough.
With one leg tied onto each side of the fly body wrap down the antennae for the head
extending over the hook eye. You can place the antennae on in the last step if you like
with a little zap-a-gap glue but tying them in place holds much better in the long run.
6. Clip a small
patch of deer hair about the size of pencil from the hide and proceed to clean and strip
the fuzz from the ends of the hair. Align the hair tips evenly with your hair stacker and
tie it onto the hook shank extending over the hook eye about 1 ½ times the hook gape.
Make sure to spin the deer hair equally around the hook shank and to wrap the thread right
up tight to the back of the hook eye.
7. Before forming
the bullethead, wrap the thread back about four to five turns to place the thread into the
tie off position for the head. Now with your fingers or a bullethead maker pull the deer
hair back over the body (making sure not to pull the antennae back) and take 2-3 turns of
threads to hold things in place. Inspect the head of the hopper you just created to make
sure the deer hair was pulled back evenly and that no bald spots are present. If there is
small patches of no hair simply unwind your thread and release the hair. Repeat the
procedure for forming the bullethead but try twisting the hair slightly to cover where the
bald patches were previously.
8. Once you are
happy with the shape and size of the bullethead you have the choice of tying in an
indicator or not. If you planning to fish the fly in the surface film it is good idea to
have the indicator present so that you can see the fly easier, but it is not necessary.
Personally I carry a few of each type in my fly box, some with out indicators to be fished
down deep and a few with indicators for the surface film. Either way whip finish the head
and cement thoroughly.
Tight lines and Smooth threads