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.
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.
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.