Improved Thunder Thighs Hopper Tutorial
The Improved Thunder Thighs Hopper was my go-to hopper pattern last summer in sizes 8-14 in tan, goldenrod, and flesh. As the summer went on, this hopper seemed to fish better and better. The realistic silhouette of this grasshopper pattern with its thick foam/rubber legs, bullet-head, large eyes and flashy wing seemed to trigger trout consistently throughout the summer, even in low, clear, late summer conditions. The realistic legs on this pattern set this terrestrial apart from most other hoppers. I also used this fly as part of a hopper/dropper setup with great results. The fly seemed to always land upright and supported heavy tungsten bead-head copper johns 0r pheasant-tails without a problem. This fly also works great with a thick poly-wing substituted for the thin foam-wing. The poly-wing aids in floatation and visibility making this a must-have pattern when fishing from a drift boat.
Hook: 2 x-long nymph hook.
Thread: UTC 140 denier. Great foam tying thread.
Body: Two-Tone foam with a total thickness of 4mm.
Underwing: Micro flash, rootbeer color.
Wing: 1mm tan foam.
Legs: Thinly sliced two-tone foam, super-floss material. You can knot on any rubber leg material. The super-floss material is very durable and stays knotted to the foam strip with a simple over-hand knot.
Eyes: 2mm black foam strip.
Post: 2mm hi-viz foam strip.
Dubbing: Tan dubbing of choice.
Step 2: Prepare a 4mm thick piece of foam body. Taper end as shown. Size of foam body should be about gap of hook in width, and twice the length of hook. Above, I have a pre-cut, two-tone cocoa/tan body (size medium) that is about 2 inches long.
Pre-cut foam body that is about as wide as gap of hook. This will be placement of foam body on hook.
Step 9: Advance thread forward, on hook only, 1/2 the distance between hook-eye and body segment as pictured above. Try not to get too close to the hook eye because the rest of the hopper is tied in at this point.
Step 19: Trim butts of body flush, as pictured above. Next, trim black foam strips flush with the head of the hopper to form the eyes. You can also leave the eyes a little long for a more dramatic effect.
Step 21: Thunder Thighs. Trim a thin strip of two-tone foam. Next, cut strips of foam at angle, like the angle pictured above. Tie an over-hand knot in rubber material, insert pointed end of foam strip in over-hand knot and tighten rubber material around the foam strip. For more detailed instructions on making these foam legs go to the original Thunder Thighs tutorial, steps 10-14.
Side view of hopper. Notice I marked the belly of the hopper with a bronze Prismacolor marker.