Although called a hopper, visually this pattern has more in common with a small daddy-longlegs than a grasshopper. Actually, it was tied to represent neither and instead is very effective during a hatch of midge. It is also a great general dry-fly, working well throughout the season, even when there is little obvious surface activity.
This claret version is one of the most effective colours but it also works well when tied in black, red, orange or fiery brown. Whatever the colour, all Hoppers have the same trailing legs tied from strands of cock pheasant tail — each knotted once. These legs provide the Hopper’s distinct silhouette and also work in the water’s surface.
Even though it is intended to float, the pattern should not be tied on a light-wire hook. Not only is this tempting fate, if a big fish is hooked, but the hook needs to be quite heavy so that the finished fly sits low in the surface. To this end the hackle fibres may also be clipped underneath the hook.
Like other stillwater dryflies the body is made of dubbed fur, which is normally teased out before being fished to accentuate the translucency and sparkle of the material. Further sparkle is added by the use of pearl tinsel as a rib.
Hook Size 10-12 medium weight wet-fly
Thread Black Rib Medium-width pearl
tinsel Body Claret, black, olive or brown
seal’s fur Legs Knotted strands of cock
pheasant tail Hackle Brown cock hackle
1. Run the tying thread down to the bend in close turns. Stop the thread opposite the barb then take a two-inch length of medium-width pearl tinsel.
2. Catch the pearl tinsel in at the bend with two or three turns of the tying thread.
3. Secure the waste end of the tinsel to the shank with close turns of thread. Next, take a pinch of claret seal’s fur, or a substitute, and apply it to the tying thread.
4. Using a twisting action of the finger and thumb, dub the seal’s fur along the thread to form a thin rope. Wind this along the hook shank.
5. Continue winding the rope of dubbed fur towards the hook eye. Ensure that the turns touch, so no gaps form, but do not overlap to form a lump.
6. With the fur covering approximately three-quarters of the hook shank, take hold of the pearl tinsel and wind under slight tension over the body.
7. Apply four or five turns of the tinsel, ensuring that they are evenly spaced. Secure the loose end of tinsel with tying thread and remove the excess.
8. Take a single cock pheasant tail fibre. Ensure that the tip is perfect before making a single overhand knot in the fibre.
9. Carefully pull the knot tight, a short distance back from the tip. This forms the impression of a leg joint. Form another two legs in the same way.
10. Place the three legs together so that their tips are level. Secure them in place on the nearside of the hook so that they trail past the hook bend.
11. Form another three legs in exactly the same way as the first. Catch them in on the far side of the hook, ensuring that the tips of both sets are level.
12. Remove the waste ends of the pheasant tail before catching in a brown cock hackle by its base. Wind on three turns before securing then removing the hackle tip. Cast off with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Hopper is one of the all-time great stillwater dry-flies and, with its bold silhouette, it will often raise fish when there is little obvious surface activity. During a hatch of large midge it also works extremely well and is effective on any lake or reservoir.
W H E N
Though it can work throughout the season, the prime time for the Hopper is from May through to July and then if the weather remains settled from September through October. It is at these times that the trout feed most actively at the surface.
H O W
The pattern may be fished singly or more usually in conjunction with two other flies as part of a team. Most often used in its original role as a dry-fly, it can work well fished subsurface, too.
T Y I N G T I P
To increase the surface area of the body and to add to its translucency, rough-up the dubbed fur either with the point of a dubbing needle or, better still, a small piece of velcro.