How many grasshopper patterns does one fly fisherman need? I assumed that I settled on four effective imitations that would suffice in nearly all circumstances. I began my hopper search with the yellow Letort hopper, and this simple tie that originated on the limestone creeks of my native Pennsylvania served me well for many years. Next I added the parachute hopper, and this handsome fly demonstrated superior effectiveness late in the summer and in early fall. The parachute hopper with its knotted pheasant tail legs offered an incremental level of realism over the Letort hopper. The parachute hackle allowed it to land upright on nearly every cast, and it proved to be adequate as the top fly in a dry/dropper set up with one beadhead nymph suspended.
[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-In6xtiRRq5I/VtOUI6xMiNI/AAAAAAAA744/EABLXrV_1WgefnCwLTwIX0vLvB9kEFkhgCHM/s144-o/IMG_0723.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02272016HopperJuan#6256507188283214034″ caption=”From the Side” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0723.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]
Both of these flies, however, contain dubbed bodies which tend to absorb moisture over time and thus require frequent reconditioning. Drying a fly takes away from fishing time, so I went in search of foam grasshoppers that also presented a decent level of realism. My first discovery was the Charlie Boy hopper. Initially I was dissatisfied with the performance of the Charlie Boy as a fish attractor, although it performed admirably as an indicator on a dry/dropper arrangement. Recently the Charlie Boy staged a comeback, and it spent a fair amount of time on my line in 2015. While the Charlie Boy was in my dog house, I produced some pool toy hoppers. These flies were even more buoyant than the Charlie Boy, but they also seemed to fall short in the fish catching category compared to the Letort hopper and parachute hopper.
[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tsY0hGRbvaI/VtOUKVJPT2I/AAAAAAAA744/iM1gDEORkAUTVpRv81Aka80BIqGigGIOwCHM/s144-o/IMG_0727.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02272016HopperJuan#6256507212543250274″ caption=”Great Clarity” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0727.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]
I assumed that I was locked into these four hopper imitations, when I stumbled across another pattern that caught my attention. I am an avid member of the Instagram family, and a participant named @hopperjuan_fly_fishing liked one of my posts. I checked his profile page and discovered that his name was Juan Ramirez, and he had a web page called hopperjuan.blogspot.com. I browsed his blog and determined that he was the creator of a fly named the hopper Juan. The hopper Juan was another foam grasshopper pattern that intrigued me, so I took the plunge and tied some. Conveniently I found a video on Mr. Ramirez’s web site that demonstrated the tying steps, so I followed along and produced six Juan’s in size six and eight.
[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-a1Cs_vbeqjI/VtOUK3RxKFI/AAAAAAAA744/cGZjTrPoUr0M9YZ8SLhvqwage0hA8iOZwCHM/s144-o/IMG_0732.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02272016HopperJuan#6256507221705828434″ caption=”Three Size 6 and Three Size 8 Hopper Juans” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0732.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]
This means I now have five different options for hopper fishing. More importantly I have an additional large buoyant foam pattern that can suspend multiple beadhead droppers for my favorite technique for fishing in western streams. Who knows, perhaps this could be my preferred approach in eastern and mid-western streams as well. I probably need to allocate more time to drifting dry/dropper flies in other geographies.
[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jsGUbXlRzjc/VuSY6IOiRvI/AAAAAAAA8Jw/DBNeDVsul8gnddTwEhZx77WZgLkR09glACHM/s144-o/PSJT7833.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02272016HopperJuan#6261297506360116978″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”PSJT7833.jpg” image_size=”2048×2048″ ]