Now is Hopper Time in Montana! Grasshoppers are like floating Burritos for many fish. The big the Plop, the bigger the mouthful.
The key to a great Hopper is that they Plop! Sound and vibration tend to excite the hungry trout. The sound or feel of a hopper hitting the water means the dinner bell is ringing. Get ready to set the hook. Trout will travel several feet to find their tasty hopper treats.
Hoppers come in many sizes and colors. You can certainly mix and match what your fly box is stocked with. The key is a smooth presentation. You want the perfect plop of a hopper without the Slap of your line and leader. This takes a bit of practice and is best learned on the river. Just short stroke the forward cast a bit until the hopper plops and the line gently floats to the water.
A hearty leader is a good idea for Plopping. You can add a thinner, but stronger, fluorocarbon tippet to the business end of your leader. 8-10 lb. test is great.
Match the size of the hoppers hopping along the rivers edge. Sharpen your hooks. I also use a small dropper nymph just because. You will be amazed how many times you get a hopper hit and catch them on the nymph. A small Zebra midge, Lightening bug or any lightweight, but small, nymph will do. Tie the dropper to the bend of the Hopper hook.
Use a Hopper with “ASS”! What I mean is that the hopper must be hefty enough to make a decent plop, just like a real meaty hopper. Many of todays hopper patterns are made of foam. They float great but can rotate on the hook and simply have no “ass”. Use a hair style hopper along with a premium floatant.
Hoppers are supposed to float so a good gel floatant, like Aquel”, is a good idea. Also use a Desiccant powder, like “Shimizaki”, to dry the hair fly. Rinse any fish slime off the fly after you catch a fish. Now apply the desiccant powder. A couple of false casts and life is good. Hair flies will last longer than foam flies. The foam will tear and fall apart more easily. As a hair fly gets uglier, it just looks more natural.
Use a 9 foot 5 -6 weight fly rod for plopping your hoppers. The longer rod, lever, will give you more control and a quicker hook set. It will also handle the bigger fish you may catch. If you are fishing low, skinny waters, don’t forget the other, smaller terrestrials in your arsenal. They may be a smarter choice along lakes and clear Spring Creeks.
Later in the day, trout get lazy and tend to go subsurface. Now is when you nymph fish your hopper. A drowned hopper still Tastes sweet and is less work for the fish. It also mimics a sculpin or crayfish, just incase the menu changed.
For more Montana Grant, find him plopping at www.montanagrantfishing.com.