Pool Toy Hopper 01/31/2021 Photo Album
The pool toy hopper designed by Andrew Grillos has evolved into my favorite hopper imitation. I tie them mostly on a size 8 Tiemco 5262 or equivalent. Andrew recommends the heavier hook to serve as a keel that allows the fly to always land right side up, and that seems to hold true for me. A reader of this blog asked me to explain the difference between the pool toy hopper and a fat Albert, and I was forced to admit that there is not much to separate them. Nonetheless, I tend to favor the pool toy hopper during the summer months when natural grasshoppers are most prevalent. The fat Albert is my favorite top fly on dry/dropper rigs in the pre-runoff season and during July, as the river flows subside to fishable levels. I tie most of my pool toy hoppers with a tan body and a tan foam underlayer; whereas, I tend to use yellow for the body of the fat Albert. Perhaps body color is the simple explanation for why one fly seems to outperform the other during the various seasons of the fishing year.
Bringing It Closer
Check out my post of 01/13/2020 for links to a materials table, and a link that describes my introduction to the fly. I have a scanned copy of fly tying steps from Southwestern Fly Fishing that I can email, if a reader would like to tie some of these hopper patterns. Just let me know in the comments. I experienced one of my best pool toy hopper days in quite awhile on 09/18/2020, and I was very pleased to be able to fish the buoyant foam hopper solo for much of my time on the North Fork of the White River. The pool toy hopper is extremely buoyant and easy to track, and I took advantage of these features on the September day in the Flattops.
Tan Pool Toy Hoppers Complete
I tied eight new pool toy hoppers to replenish my supply for the upcoming 2021 season. I adopted the practice of dabbing a bead of super glue to the rear leg knots to prevent slippage and unwinding. In addition I cranked out a few versions with a tan ice dub body. The tan ice dub body chubby Chernobyl has yielded some surprisingly solid results in a dry/dropper arrangement, so I thought I would give the sparkling body color a try with a pool toy hopper. Stay tuned for a report on the results of this experiment.
Another Underside View
Chernobyl Ant 01/23/2021 Photo Album
Chubby Chernobyls are everywhere. They’ve taken the world by storm, yet this seasoned angler continues to stock classic Chernobyl ants, and in fact uses them fairly frequently. What situations would dictate a classic Chernobyl ant over a chubby? High mountain streams with an abundance of overhanging branches and vegetation represent the primary situation, when I resort to a classic Chernobyl ant. My Chernobyl ants are very simple creations that require only two sections of foam, pearl chenille, and rubber legs. All these materials are synthetic, and, therefore, do not absorb water. In tight quarters I can dap, bow and arrow, and roll cast this fly without the need for a backcast to dry off the fly. This characteristic is very welcome, when trees and branches attempt to nab your fly with every stray movement.
Of course this positive would be useless if a Chernobyl ant did not attract fish, but it does that as well, and in many cases quite well. The buoyancy of the Chernobyl also supports a beadhead nymph or two, so it can also perform in fine fashion as the surface fly in a dry/dropper arrangement. The small yellow indicator is relatively visible, although other foam flies can outperform the Chernobyl in this regard, as it rides low in the water thus making tracking a challenge at times.
For a materials table and more links to previous posts on the Chernobyl ant, please refer to my 01/15/2020 post. I counted all the Chernobyl ants in my possession and determined that adequate quantities remained for the upcoming season. In fact, I probably have enough for several future years, since I now favor other foam flies over the Chernboyl in some situations.
Size 8 from Bass Pro Shop Bin
Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/16/2021 Photo Album
There are 800,000 species of beetles in the world, so it makes sense that a significant number meet their demise in a body of water. Every fly fisherman should have a supply of beetles. My go to beetle pattern is a Jake’s gulp beetle. It is constructed from foam and very easy to tie.
A Size 14 Jake’s Gulp Beetle
To learn more about Jake’s gulp beetle click on this link to my post during January a year ago. This account provides a materials table as well as a couple links that describe my introduction to Jake’s gulp beetle, and the conditions that prompt me to pluck one from my fly box. I’ve had several days in September, when this style of beetle literally brought up a trout in nearly every hole, where I plunked it.
A New Batch of Six Size 14’s
Unfortunately this is not always the case, and during recent years refusals have also been a significant part of the beetle experience. For this reason I approached my vise to construct six additional size 14 beetles. Previously my supply consisted of mostly size 10’s and 12’s. Hopefully when I observe future rejections, I can pluck a smaller size from my box and realize success.
Hippie Stomper 01/10/2021 Photo Album
In recent years the hippie stomper emerged as my number one dry fly. Most of my dry flies are seasonal in nature, as they imitate specific hatches such as pale morning duns, green drakes and caddis flies. The hippie stomper is a foam attractor that does not imitate a single hatch, but instead it is a generally buggy foam creation that captures the attention of the fish year round. For a short narration on where and how I used this fly successfully, click on this link to my last post, 11/26/2019. Contained within this blog post are links to earlier writing including my introduction and a materials table.
During 2020 the hippie stomper continued to shine throughout the season. It is particularly effective on small high mountain creeks, where I routinely begin with the stomper riding solo on my line. If I can get away with responsiveness to a sole dry fly, why mess with the inherent tangles that accompany a dry/dropper approach? However, a size 12 or 14 hippie stomper can support one or two beadhead nymphs, if the fish are seeking their meals below the surface of the creek. During this past summer season, I experimented with a double dry set up with the hippie stomper typically in the first position and a green drake, stimulator, caddis or pale morning dun dry fly on the point. The white winged hippie stomper enabled me to easily track both flies, and quite a few successful days resulted from this approach.
Climbing Over Each Other
Purple Haze Hippie Stomper
I counted my supply of hippie stompers and determined that I needed to tie nine with a peacock body to restore my beginning inventory to twenty-five. Clearly the hippie stomper occupied my line extensively, and this led to the inevitable shrinkage in supply. After I spun out the nine replacement flies, I tied a batch of five with a medium olive ice dub body, and then I added five more with a purple body. I bought purple dubbing in advance of making some purple haze parachute flies, and I was curious whether the same purple body might prove effective on the already lethal hippie stomper. I cannot wait to enter hippie stomper mode in 2021.
Five Olive Ice Dub Versions