( Note: This is a long page and not an easy fly to tie. In other words sit back or hit print. )
My friend Larry Young is a native of Hawaii and is a tyer obcessed with hoppers. I myself am kind of indifferent to hoppers as it is just another fly to me like a Cahill, Squirrel Tail Nymph or whatever. In other words for me it is just a fly that is some times the only thing that works. Since I'm not a dedicated hopper fisherman, I suppose I'd more intrested in these if I caught more on them. For me the hopper is best for bass fishing and bluegills ( for the gills I make a gray or black and fish it for a cricket. ) Trout seem to always hate me the days I fish hoppers, maybe it is my casting not my flies that need the help.
On a stocker stream in MO I was very determined one day to make a hopper work as there were literally thousands of them in the grass. I caught a couple of the naturals in the grass and then broke the wings off them so they couldn't fly away. I waited to see an active feeding fish and threw the natural in his face ( no hook n' line just the bug).........Okay so it was chumming < no flames please>. I wanted to see how the fish took the hopper and how it reacted. The fish rose up and nudged the hopper, came back again then grabbed the hopper and shook his head and began munching. Since this was pretty entertaining .......remember this was MO home of the no alternative radio........I kept tossing hoppers at trout and watching them snack. I figured I was doing the fish a favor as they had a diet of dog food up until this point. Next I waited a bit and started casting to the same fish I fed. Try as I may not one single fish looked my way. I guess that should teach me a lesson about stuff like this.
Now before I get slammed, flamed and such........I am not real big on hatchery fish and I hate chumming.......If you fish a stocker stream some times it is an ideal place to see how fish react, how they behave and how they react to flies. I often fish such places for the purpose of testing and refining my technique, testing flies and seeing how fish behave. I will often cast many dozens of flies in many places just to see the fish take the flies and why they like them. These can be great testing grounds if you take the thing in perspective and are willing to put up with the "white bucket bregaid". 'Nuff said.........Let's tie some flies........
To begin with I won't pretend that I'm Dave Whitlock because I'm not . While my friend's idea for these hoppers is pretty neat, the fly we tie is basically Dave's Hopper or the Bullet Head Whit's Hopper. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Larry simply found a way to make some very cool legs.
If you'd like to learn how to make Dave's Hopper or Whit's hopper , I'd suggest you get a copy of the September issue of Fly Fisherman or contact an Umpqua dealer and ask for the new Dave Whitlock Tape of Tying and Fishing Dave's Hopper.....
The critical factor in tying a hopper is the wing. Since my favorite material called micro web is no longer made, we are back to using quill and feathers for wings. The biggest problem with quill is splitting. Catch a few fish and the wing splits. Here's some stuff you can try to help you with the wings.
1) Pre-treat wings with Tuffilm or Clear Krylon Spray. By spraying the wing you make in it stiff. You spray the whole feather or cut out a wing and spray it.
2) Paint the wing with head cemment, clear finger nail polish or Dave's Flex-a-ment. This acts to stiffen the wing and make it flexible. You can cut out the wing or tie the fly and paint the wing as you go.
3) Use my tape wing technique ( from the tape wing caddis page) and apply the quill to Manco waterproof PVC tape and cut the wing out. Manco tape is available at Mernard's lumber yard or Wal-Mart. It has a green package and a duck on it. It costs $2 a roll and is 2" wide. The tape wing is a bit more difficult for quill. Cut a piece of tape, apply some zap-a-gap to the back of the quill and stick in down on the sticky side of the tape. Use a very tiny sparse amount of Zap or you'll have a mess. Keep some tissues and a piece of sand paper handy. Use the tissue to blot up the zap and the sand paper to remove zap from your hands......see my page on Zap-a-gap for more info.
4) Use very large marked Prairie Chicken, Grouse, Partridge or Hen Saddles for the tape wing technique. Do Not fold the wings, just cut them out. You will miss some of the dark or mottled markings with the quill feathers and there is an upside limit of how big you can make the wing. Generally, these feathers are ones you would generally pitch or discard as they quite large.
Making the Legs
To make Larry's legs, get a strip of round med rubber legs. At the top split the the leg into two joined pieces and pull the whole strip off of the patch. Basically you should have one strand of two legs still attached. Cut the double strands into 1 1/2 ' long segments. Make an over hand knot on the cut piece. Pull really tight on the rubber and snug the knot down. You might try using a Rainy's leg tool if you struggle with this. I just use my hands. Split one of the double legs and cut the tag at the knot. Add a tiny drop of Zap if you like to secure the knot......do not get zap on the leg or you will wreck it.
With a permenant marker apply tiny black, brown or green bars to the outside of the leg. ( The outside of the leg has the knot so that the rear faces or flares in. If you set the leg wrong it will fold out not in toward the body.) Below is a picture of the strands and the finished legs.
Double Strands of Round Rubber Legs
Finished Knoted Legs, Clipped and Marked
Yellow w/Brown, Hot Green n' Brown, Brown w/Black, Gray w/Brown
Top Leg flares in, gray one flares out......wrong way.
Tying Larry's Hopper:
Hook : Kamasan B220 or TMC 200 size 4-12
Thread: Fly Master Plus 3/0
Tail: Small Bunch of Red Deer Hair
Body: Fun Foam
Hackle: Palmered Brown, Clipped on the Top
Legs: Knotted Round Rubber, Split and Clipped
Wing: Turkey Strip Over Small bunch of Deer Hair
Head and Collar: Deer Hair
1) Tie in a small bunch of red deer hair for the tail. The length should be a stout tail of about 4-5 eye lengths ( 1/8"?). Wind the butts down leaving the front 1/3 of the hook open.
2) Move thread back to the front of the bend.
3) Select a hackle on size smaller than the hook ( for ex: use a 12 on a 10) the fibers should not reach below the point of the hook.
4) Cut a 1" by 1/8" to 3/16" wide strip of fun foam. Clip the end to an arrow point. Then clip the end square. The end should have a tab like half a hexagon. Tie the strip in so that the tab extends only to the bend of the hook with 2 tight wraps.
5) Make even segments of 1/8 " humps by wrapping the foam to the top of the hook shank. For a size 10 there should be about 4-5 humps.
6) Weave the hackle forward, wrapping the hackle into the thread wraps between the humps. Clip the hackle on top of the body.
7) Tie in small bunch of deer hair for the under wing. The ends should extend only to the bend of the hook. Tie in the treated wing covering the deer hair.
8) Attach the legs so that the legs are parallel to the body . The clipped ends should point in. Wrap the attached leg segment up to the eye. This makes it easier to spin the hair for the head.
9) Spin a collar of deer hair on the bottom and top. Spin one bunch top and bottom of deer hair.
10) Clip the deer hair into a square . The Whitlock hopper has the head bigger in the front, slopping backward. I often get lazy and just make a muddler head.
Colors and sizes are dependent on local factors and the time of the year. Here's is a general guide line for you:
Olive Hopper: Body: Olive , Head :Olive, Wing: Dark Turkey, Legs : Yellow
Natural Hopper: Body: Brown, Head :Dun, Wing: Oak Turkey, Legs : Brown
Small Developing Hopper or Cricket: Body: Gray, Head: Dun, Wing: Charcoal, Legs: Gray
Western Locust or Katydid : Head: Green Chartreuse, Body: Lime, Wing : Hopper Green, Legs: Hot Green
Yellow Hopper: Head, Body, Legs: Yellow, Wing: Hopper Yellow,
Black Cricket: All Black......tail, hackle also.
Sorry this was a long page. This is not a simple fly to tie. If you are lazy, skip this non sense by dubbing a body, tie on a wing and spin a head.........this is a Le Torte Hopper. Gee should have said this eariler but that wouldn't be as much fun would it? Mike
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068