Welcome to Project Hopper
The Project Hopper is just that - a project. This fly has been in the process of being made for about 2 years now (as of 2015) and will probably still be tweaked and modded based on fishing situations.
When you leave your car in anticipation of hitting the water in mid to late summer it's always a good thing to see hoppers flying around on the trail to the river or lake. You are sure that the fish will be shamelessly slamming these big morsels of steak floating awkwardly downstream. One summer I got schooled by a lack of selection in my hopper game, and the problem was that I thought I had my hoppers all figured out. I didn't. Up to this point the Stoneflopper was about all I needed when a hopper situation came up, and this day was going to be a good Stoneflopper day. The problem was that the fish would come over to the fly only to give it a good stare down and a window shop before returning to their feeding lanes. The Stoneflopper was getting the shaft... Hard. Time to start a project.
These types of situations really motivate me to come up with a better solution, and I realized that my hopper game had a lot of innings yet to be played. I immediately began trying to catch hoppers to analyze their colors and how they sat in the water. Luckily Curtis has a little fairy net that he uses to catch adult mayflies and such... I began to realize that even similar looking hoppers could have different colored back legs, and I found green, blue, red, and variations of all of these colors. As I began my testing I knew that the back leg would play a key part in the process so I made a mental
|Knotted rubber = no go|
|I liked the bottom profile|
After the first prototypes came off the vise I wanted to test them on the same fish that were snubbing the Stoneflopper, so back to the river we went. Luckily, we found the same exact fish holding in his territory and he was actively scanning for food. I made a cast that caught some wind and got pushed 6 feet out of it's feeding lane, but this fish rushed over without hesitation and tried to swallow my hopper whole. We knew we had a winner. That fly was actually much more durable than we thought it would be, and the monofilament leg sections stayed put for about 5 fish before they both got ripped off. That being said, the pattern still produced after the legs were gone.
|Hopper Eating Tiger|
Durability... The first thing that people ask is how this fly holds up to being fished a lot. My answer at first was that this pattern was such a pain in the butt to tie that they should only have a few of them in their box as a last resort, but now that the process is simplified and improved a bit, there is no reason not to have a box full of them. With the improvements made to the back leg, they should last much longer than expected. Sure, there are flies out there that are much more durable, but this one is surprisingly more durable than you would think.
Modifications... Feel free to mod this fly as you see fit! As you can see in the images, there are many mods that you can make from a different hook, to a different shape for the body...
|Hopper Eating Brown|
|Getting closer with mono legs|
|This just ain't right...|
And one with some Hoppize:
|MFC Hoppize for the win|
|Add to Cart||View in store|
Other tools from the tutorial:
The marks were done with fine point sharpies (brown and marigold)For the River Road Cutters, here are the sizes that I use for each part of the fly:
- Body #8
- Under wing #8
- Legs #12
- Indicator #16