Having restored my supply of pool toy hoppers, I turned my attention to another large foam grasshopper pattern, the Charlie boy hopper. I began tying these in 2011 in an attempt to discover a visible yet buoyant replacement for my reliable Letort hoppers. My initial batch was poorly tied, and consequently I did not develop confidence in Charlie boy hoppers. They occupied space in my fly storage bin and did not see much use until late in the 2014 season. I depleted my pool toy supply to a dangerously low level, and quite a bit of hopper season remained, so I substituted one of my largely forgotten Charlie boys. In my mind I was simply using it as a strike indicator.
All of a sudden I had a hot fly on my hands, and this motivated me to tie up more for 2015. During the past summer and fall I tested the Charlie boy more frequently, and I can report that it is an effective fish catcher primarily in the August and September time frame. In addition it is extremely buoyant, very visible, and can support two beadhead nymphs in a dry/dropper setup.
Since all my foam materials were arranged on my fly tying countertop, I decided to knock out some new Charlie boys for 2016. They are not difficult to tie, but I dislike working with superglue, and the quick dry adhesive is a critical component of the Charlie boy. My plastic container of Zap-a-Gap was over a year old, and when I attempted to apply it to the first work in process, I was dismayed to discover that it did not adhere. Fortunately I bought Jane a small vial of superglue as a stocking stuffer for Christmas, so I searched for and found it. I suppose I should feel guilty about giving myself a gift, but it remains available for Jane to use should she have a need. At any rate I discovered that the new brand applied easier to the foam, and this greatly improved my attitude about tying Charlie boy hoppers.
Once a tier gets over the superglue paranoia, the fly is actually an easy, straightforward tie with fewer materials and far fewer steps than a pool toy. A hook, thread, two pieces of foam, rubber legs and deer hair are all that is required to make a fairly realistic fly that floats well and contains the key triggering characteristics of a grasshopper struggling to escape from the current of a stream. 3/0 thread is recommended to allow increased pressure when snugging down the deer hair wing.
Over the last two seasons I concluded that the Charlie boy and pool toy perform best in the late summer and early autumn season. This makes perfect sense, since this is when the large land bound natural hoppers are most prevalent, and the dense population of adults increases the likelihood of an errant flight path that results in a water landing. I have concluded that the yellow Letort hopper produces fish in the early season, as it is most likely taken for a golden stonefly. The Charlie boy and pool toy are not strong imitations of a stonefly even if they were tied with yellow bodies.
As a result of my new affinity for the Charlie boy, I churned out ten new size ten versions and stashed them in my boat box. I made all of them with tan foam since I have not met with success using any other color. I have a few leftover yellow and green models from my earlier efforts should the need arise. Bring on the hopper season and dry/dropper fishing.