Fly of the Month: Tim's Hopper
My attractor/hopper pattern is intended to have good buoyancy but to let the body extend into the surface film. After much looking and learning and advice, the end result is a hopper pattern with a body of woven antron wrapped around an under-body of foam and designed to hang in the surface film. A foam back and head with elk hair wing help it stay afloat. Last but not least, it has those rubber legs to stabilize it and give it life. It is not too difficult or time consuming to tie once you learn how to do the weaving. - Tim Stechert
Hook: Dai-Riki #280 size 8 Thread: Black Uni-thread 6/0. Under-Body: 1/16” thick tan foam Body: 4 10” strands antron the stuff that comes on a spool (yellow, light orange, dark brown, black) Back/head: 1/16” thick brown foam Wing: Bleached elk hair Legs: Centipede legs (yellow/black) or any other suitable rubber legs. Dubbing: Sparkle leech, dirty olive
Tim’s Tying Instructions
Tie in your 6/0 thread about 1/4” behind the eye, wrap back to the bend and return to the tie-in point. I use 6/0 thread for this fly because it is less prone to cut the foam than finer threads. Align the four strands of antron and tie them in. Don’t be stingy with the length of the strands. You’ll need at least 10” to have something to hold onto while you are weaving. Keeping the four strands together, lay them down the back of the shank while wrapping the thread back to the bend.
Tie off with a couple whip finishes and clip the thread. You will not be able to do the weaving with the thread and bobbin in your way. Rotate your vise so that the eye of the hook is facing you. Gather the two light colored strands of antron in your right hand and the two dark colored strands in your left hand.
Now for the weaving! The trick is to never let go of the strands. Wrap the light strands 3/4 of a turn around the hook by drawing your right hand under the hook shank and in front of the dark strands. The light strands should now be pointing upward. Now make a 3/4 turn with the dark strands by drawing your left hand over the hook shank and in front of the light strands. Lower the light strands down and wrap back under the shank. You should see how the light and dark strands are beginning to interlock. Repeat this process, forming a nicely ribbed body. It will take some practice and you may have to start over several times. It helps to keep even pressure on both strands and to try to align the strands so they interlock down each side of the fly. Once you have covered all the foam, make one more interlocking set on each side, clamp all four antron strands together with a pair of hemostats and let them hang. Re-position the vise, re-start your thread, tie off the strands and clip off the tag ends.
The hard part is over! Now tie in a 1/4” wide strip of brown foam so it extends back to a point above the hook tip. Keep the tag end plenty long, since you’ll be needing it in a later step.
Stack a generous clump of elk hair and tie it in just as you would on an elk hair caddis fly. Draw the butt ends back and make a couple wraps in front of them before clipping them. This will help lock the hair in place
Attach a set of rubber legs. Keep them long. The rear legs should extend well back to the rear of the fly.
Optionally tie in a small piece of brightly colored foam for an indicator at the foam tie-in point. I didn’t put an indicator on this one. Wrap some loose dubbing around the shank in front of the foam and behind the eye. I ran a couple wraps of dubbing around the foam to get good coverage under the hook shank. Don’t trim away the stray dubbing fibers. In fact, you can even pick some out as you would on a gold-ribbed hare’s ear. Whip finish, and you’re done! Two views of the finished fly are shown below.