Dusting off the hen hackle and the bead box.
It’s that time of year again when you start looking deep into the depths of your Hopper Dropper box. A couple of years ago I gotta look at one of my good friends hopper boxes. Somewhat impressed, nice collection for sure, but my goal is to surpass him in excellence and quantity. I think for a good Hopper box also include some Droppers .
I tend to add a few bead heads as well as some Collins Earthworms to the mix. A few things to think about when putting together a Hopper Dropper Box:
1. Size Matters
Depending if you’re fishing small spring creeks or the big freestone’s like the Missouri and the Big Horn, having a good mix of size of Hoppers is important. Size also plays into the decision of what type of dropper to fish. If you are fishing tiny bead heads then you can get away with a smaller hopper. On the flip side of that if your fishing the ninja Gamakatsu worm, a larger hopper is in order. While dialing in the size of your hopper, also take in consideration flow rate of the river, as well as species of Hoppers in the area.
2. Color Matters
I have caught fish on every color in the rainbow when it comes to Hoppers. Walking to any local craft store to buy 1 of every color of the sheet foam, and go to town on your vise. Tiger striped, rainbow, camouflage, and tie dyed all good finds a craft store and get to be turned into a awesome Hopper bodies.
3. Have Fun
If you have a favorite Hopper pattern change it up a little bit. Change the color of the legs or change the type of wing. Trout, after while, get board of the same old tan Morish hopper. When you ties yours up use a darker color tan in pink dotted legs…
These days when I sit down to tie, I grab a dozen of four sizes and tie the same fly for each size. This does a few things. First, it fills a fly box quickly. Secondly, you don’t want to be left with only two of the one hopper that is making the fish look up that one particular day. Thirdly, practice makes perfect. Tying all four sizes let’s you work on your material proportions for each size as well as working on producing flies that look all alike.
With a quick trip to your local craft store and a couple of hours at the vice, you can have a good handful hoppers to bring you into the season. Have fun and think pink. Just saying
Even though I’m back home in Montana in my basement tying,
and even though I’m tying one of my own patterns that in the past never even had a smidge of deer hair, there I was grabbing for the stacker in the red and black hair.
I’m thinking of some type of disease at this point. Anyway heading up to the Mo this weekend and thought I’d tie some more lawn mowers. In my ever growing quest to hit every craft store when I travel, I found AC Moore in New Jersey when I was there for the hurricane sandy relief. As I was picking up my third load of the sparkle braid I came across these chain beads.
These scream fly tying to me and just imagine the colors of lawn mowers I can tie up. More to come….
This stuff gets a little getting use to but on the flip side it is buggy as hell. If you are a fan of Span Flex, Uni Floss, Flex Floss then you know what this stuff is. It is a very fine diameter of the same stuff. You know when you are tying it in for legs and it splits, that is a good description of what this stuff is. It is kind of a pain to tie with when you first start off. I have found the best way to tie with it for smaller applications is to grab ½ the amount you think you will need and then roll it in your fingers back and forth and then double it over and tie it in as a clump. Then put the tip of your scissors in and clip out the loops.
This stuff is crazy buggy and seems to be just what the doctor ordered for some big streamers. In the future I plan on seeing what it does to some emergers and nymphs. Thinking you might be able to tie up some cool looking PT’s with this stuff as well as some cripples. Steelhead Alley has a great Blog that has multiple patterns using this material. It should seeing how the owner of the site is Gerg Senyo’s…. see the connection. Lots of steelhead stuff on the site, but I think there are lots of patterns this material can be used for and incorporated into
This material really comes alive when you start to mix the colors as well. This mix was used in a dubbing loop to make a super buggy body.
Hopper legs on the BBW hopper
Living n MT there is not a ton of need for large tightly packed hair bugs. But with the ever growing numbers of buddies headed off for pike and musky there seems to always be someone on the lookout for a few of these to put in their fly box. Also, maybe to get outside of my comfort zone a little, I have always wanted to try and tie some cool looking hair bugs but have failed in the past. Spinning random colors of deer hair and packing it with a BIC pen did not result in the fly I envisioned?. I have been a big fan of the flies of Pat Cohen. He ties a mix of art and function that most have never seen before, not to mention tie before.
When trapped out in NJ for work I found myself driving north up to the BIG fly show they have every year in Somerset. A few reasons I wanted to do the hour and a half drive north was, one to get the hell out of my shitty little hotel room , and two, to meet Pat.
As I walked in I felt odd, this could be just me being a pompous ass but it made me feel very, very happy to live in MT, the place of dreams and big fish. Well, as I made my way through all this and that of a typical show I found myself over at the tiers row. As I had expected, there were lots of guys with grey beards with salmon flies. All the way at the end was a crowd of these grey beards gathered around Pat, big beard, lots of tats, and his skull ring. Pat was the bell of the ball! So I waited my turn to say hi and purchase my goods. What I took away from the experience was a great guy who truly loves the craft of tying flies as well as a having the need for a future trip to MT for his first Bull Trout! -just saying-
So on to the review. The first item I purchased was Pat’s DVD: The Stacker Deer Hair Diver.
The second item I bought was the Fuggly Packer. This was $22 and worth every penny! If you have packed much hair you know the dangers of slipping off the hook and impaling your hand on the hook or using too sharp of a packer that ends up creasing or cutting the hair as you pack it. The Fuggly has been thought out fully and takes safety into consideration by making it BIG and bad ass. When I first saw this massive tool I asked if there was a smaller version. Pat did say there was one in the works but as he demonstrated , the large Fuggly can be used for any size fly and for an adult hand, it just fits. I paid the good man his cash and headed back to my hotel to put this guy to use. I do recommend watching the DVD for some tips and tricks of how to use the whole tool. This was designed to last many, many years which is a refreshing turn from all the overseas crap these days.
If you tie deer hair at all this is the tool for you. You can pack deer hair so tight that you can barely thread a needle through to add legs. All in all, Pat puts out amazing flies and is willing to share his tools and knowledge with the masses. Good On Ya, Pat
One of the only good things about being away from home is checking out new fly shops and craft stores. The fly shop selection is a little lacking here but did find a good craft store. AC MOORE. I walked in immediately put a big smile on my face. Looking at all the colors I Ever wanted of magical braid… I grabbed some for some testing and headed hope. This is just what I could tie with here in a hotel room, trapped. Not a bad start. I give you the BBW Hopper…
BWW Hopper, Click for tutorial
The Goods needed
1.Hook – #270 Size 4 DaiRiki,
2.Under Body -Thread GLO-BRITE Shade #8
3.Thread – Veevus E12 8/0 (this stuff rocks!)
4.Legs – Senyo’s Shaggy Dub,
5.Wing – MFC Widows Web Tan
6.Body – Darcies Craft Braid
7.Body – Tan Craft Foam
8.Eyes – Clear Cure Eyes
9.Other – Super Glue, Red Sharpie, & Double edge razor blad