12/30/09

Basics of Fly Fishing: Trout Food Series - Grasshoppers

The grasshopper didn't get its name from trees. It got its name from grass. Of
course there are some crickets and hoppers that probably live where there isn't any
grass, but I doubt there are many of them in the forest of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. There are many areas in the park where there is a lot of grass. Off
hand I think of the Cataloochee Creek in the meadows areas above the
campground and the fields along the lower part of the Oconaluftee River. There are
many more and wherever the sun gets through the forest, mostly along the roads,
there's usually some grass.

I have always though that Dave Whitlock's Grasshopper fly was one of the best
imitations I have ever seen. When I was working on my Perfect Fly patterns, for the
first few years I never attempted to try to improve on it or to design one better. I
didn't think I could, to be honest. I designed some foam sandwich type hoppers that
I thought was as good or better than any you could buy and let it go at that. We do
sell Whitlock's hopper.

The only problem with Dave's fly, it that is isn't that great in fast water. It works
better in slow, smoother water. Most anglers go to a better floating fly for fast water.
About three months ago, I got a bright idea from looking at a website on insects on
the web. I think it was probably done for school kids, if I remember correctly. On my
desk at the same time was a box of about 20 dozen of Dave's Hoppers that came in
from my fly tyers. I saw a quick flash of a way I could improve on his fly. In about two
more months from now, we will have a better looking, more realistic and far better
floating hopper than Dave's or anyone else's that can be purchased for that mater.I
can't wait to introduce it.

I still think the best time to fish hopper imitations is during high winds. I have
mentioned before some of the times I have caught many trout during high winds out
West. One day on the Yellowstone River, we caught browns and cutthroats all day
long when your backcast would hit you in the head unless you were very careful.
You sure couldn't cast into the wind. That was on the Yellowstone River in Paradise
Valley.

On another occasion, I caught some big rainbows fishing around a guy mowing hay.
That was on the Missouri River below Holter Dam in Montana. The guy noticed I was
trying to fish behind him, figured out what I was doing and intentionally moved along
the river to help me out. I never spoke to him. He just kept driving the mover and
waving. He was probably a fly fisherman himself. The wind was blowing towards the
river and every time he came down it, hoppers by the dozens (I want to say
hundreds but I didn't count them) blew into the river when they jumped out of the
way of the tractor. The water would boil with trout and I was trying to fish so fast, I
fouled up my cast half the time.

By the way, when I see hoppers along a bank anywhere, I catch one or three and
throw them in the water. If I see trout taking them, I always fish a hopper imitation. I
have done that since I was a kid around farm ponds when I was fishing with a
popping bug for bream and bass. I have fished with live ones on a hook with my fly
rod in those days. I don't think I had a hopper imitation during the fifties. I can
remember the little rubber legged spiders, but I can't remember a hopper fly as
such. I am sure many of you have done the very same thing.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge:
Do I have one coming better
than this. You bet!