Another erstwhile effective terrestrial fly relegated to dust collecting status over the last few years is the parachute hopper. In the 2000’s and early 2010’s this fly delivered some outstanding results particularly in the August and September time frame. I continue to believe that the parachute hopper imitation is the most realistic in the eyes of western trout. My parachute hopper post of 2013 provides additional background on my experience with this classic pattern that utilizes all natural materials.
Although my utilization of the gray parachute hopper diminished, as I gained confidence in foam imitations, I decided to count my supply as part of my comprehensive winter preparation for the upcoming season. I continue to resort to the life-like hopper during the summer, when the large bulky foam versions prompt repeated refusals. I would not wish to be on the water without a few of the old reliables in my fly box.
In my opinion the triggering characteristic of the parachute hopper is the knotted pheasant tail legs. I purchase pheasant tail feathers with pre-knotted legs rather than endure the tedious exercise of pulling fragile fibers through a small loop. I was pleasantly surprised to learn, that I purchased a new feather; and therefore, I possessed a more than adequate supply of legs. As was the case with the parachute green drakes, I adopted the technique of tying off the hackle to the wing post, and did the same for the whip finish. This method avoids trapping hackle fibers under the thread and results in a nice uniform spread of hackle fibers around the wing post.
I discovered twenty-six parachute hoppers in my various containers, and I deemed this quantity adequate to cover my needs in 2019. Part of my process includes checking the canisters of damaged flies, and this exercise revealed six parahoppers in varying states of disrepair. The most common maladies were unraveling hackle and missing legs. I clamped these idle flies in my vise and converted them into viable imitations. Perhaps 2019 will be a renaissance for parachute hoppers.