By Jay Lee
During the warm August
and September months hoppers are big part of the trout's diet in
the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. Fishing with
hoppers can be really exciting. No subtle rises here! Fish
generally jump on it with great force. After several trips to
the Rockies, I wondered whether the European trouts would like
the hoppers as much as their American counter parts.
Henry's Fork Hopper
I have been
experimenting with hopper patterns since my first visit to the
Rockies in 1992. Back then hopper patterns were mainly based on
deer hair, either spun (like Dave's Hopper) or bullet head hair
style (like the Henry's Fork hopper).
Other hopper patterns
were using large parachute style hoppers like the Schroeder's
Parachute hopper. Although these hopper patterns can be very
productive at times, they all have one similar down side. They
get water logged after a while and won't float very well.
Another down side was they are very time consuming to tie. Yes,
tying a neat Dave's Hopper can be great fun, but boy does it
wear you out after tying five of those critters....
During the mid 1990's
high density foam made it's debut as the main material for
buoyancy on dry flies. In 1995 the odd looking fly called the
Chernobyl Ant won the Jackson Hole One Fly Event. The basic idea
is a 3 mm high density black foam strip tied in several
different segments to form the abdomen and head. The addition of
rubber legs at the side gave the critter a very lifelike action.
Foam as a tying material
evolved to multi layered, very colourful and segmented extended
body patterns like the Club Sandwich. Although these flies float
like a cork and look more like a mutant grass hopper which
stayed too long in the nuclear microwave oven I think they also
are too cumbersome to tie. They also involve needing special
form cutting tools as well to get the foam strips in a
Here's my foam hopper
pattern I have been using for the past 6 years or so: the Alien
Bug. This foam hopper is made of easy to get foam sheets, easy
to tie, floats for ever and easy to track on the water. The
basic ingredient is using two or three sheets of 3 mm high
density foam. You can buy these sheets at your local hobby shop
in many different colours.
There are no rules for
colours here. I like using bright colours like yellow or orange
on top (for visibility) and more subdued colors like olive,
brown or black for the bottom of the fly. To imitate the Salmon
fly (Pteronarcys dorsata), the giant American stonefly use
orange for the bottom to imitate the salmon coloured underbody.
Before tying you need
some preparation. Glue the sheets together using some sort of
super glue. Cut the glued sheets into about 57 mm wide strips.
For sizes up to hook size 10 I like to use two foam layers, for
larger sizes use 3 layers.
Hook: Any hopper hook (#6-10)
Thread: Uni-thread 6/0 (yellow or orange, depending on the color
Body: Sandwiched foam (Two foam layers up to size 10, for larger
sizes use 3 layers of foam)
Legs: Round medium rubber legs (I like them yellow or red
Wing: Elk or deer hair
Tail: Red goose biots Indicator: tuff of hot orange or
chartreuse (or even mixed!) indicator strand
Since this hopper floats
so well it's also a great strike indicator to fish with a (even
heavily weighted) nymph as a dropper.
By Jay Lee 2015