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How to tie the Morrish’s Hopper

February 22, 2010

Morrish Hoppers


The Morrish Hopper is probably the most realistic and effective foam hopper imitation tied for fly fishing. Late summer in Montana the trout are keying in on hoppers and other terrestrials and every fly fisherman knows this.  Once your standby patterns get refused or snubbed by the trout, it’s time to tie on a Morrish Hopper.  This pattern has the right profile with its carved and trimmed two tone foam body and enough wiggle with its rubber legs to fool any trout in any conditions. Although there are a number of steps in tying the Morrish Hopper, this fly is really quite easy to tie once you get the hang of trimming the foam body.

Update: Check out our updated Morrish post for more tips and a quick video on trimming the bodies.


Hook: Dai Riki 730 sz. 8-12

I use 2xl long nymph hooks for most of my foam hoppers.  I like the
durability and big gaps of these nymph hooks compared to fine wire dry fly hooks.

THREAD: UTC Ultra 140 denier

This is great thread for tying foam patterns because the thread lies flat, therefore,
doesn’t cut through the foam like braided or twisted threads.

CUTTER: Double-edged razor blades. Best tool for cutting through thick foam.  Very sharp and very thin.

FOAM: Pre-Cut Foam Morrish Body or 2mm-4mm  foam. Hopper body is carved out of  6mms of foam.


ADHESIVE: Flexible spray adhesive or brush on adhesive.  3M 77 Spray Adhesive or Contact Cement.

LEGS: Size medium barred legs.  Gray/black or yellow/black.

POST: 2mm orange fly tying foam.

Morrish Hopper Foam

STEP 1: For Pre-Cut Bodies, skip to step 5, other wise cut out three 2″x 3″ strips of 2mm craft foam.  Glue one side of all 3 pieces of foam with spray adhesive or contact cement and stack foam to form a 6mm thick foam block.  The darker pieces will form the upper body of the hopper, and the lighter foam piece will form the belly of the hopper.  The original Morrish Hopper has either 2mm’s of tan or goldenrod foam for the belly, and tan or cocoa 4mm for the upper body. ( 2mm goldenrod-4mm tan foam or 2mm tan-4mm cocoa)

Cut Foam for Morrish Hopper

Step 2

STEP 2: Trim about a 1/4″ wide strip off the foam block with double edge razor.  A size 10 Morrish Hopper should be cut 1/4″ wide.  Size 12 cut 3/16″ wide, size 8 cut 5/16″ wide.

Morrish Hopper

Step 3

STEP 3: Notice the three marks on the foam strip labeled A,B, and C.  These marks will assist you in cutting foam to a pointed shape as seen in Step 5.

Morrish Hopper

Step 4

STEP 4: Using a straight edge, carefully shape foam piece to a point.  Cut completely through the layers of foam from point A to point B and then from point A to point C.  Keep razor as vertical as possible while trimming foam.

Foam Morrish Hopper

Step 5

STEP 5: Foam piece should look like Step 5. Notice little trimmed wedges at top of photo are similar in size.  That’s what were after.

Trim Morrish Hopper

Steps 6-8

STEP 6-8: Follow photos 6-8.  Holding foam piece by the pointed end, carefully round the four long edges of the foam piece.  Try to cut each edge of foam with only one cut with the scissors.  Notice thin strip of foam in last photo that was trimmed off.  All you are doing is rounding the edges of the foam.  Cut the thinnest strips possible.

Morrish Hopper Body

Step 9

STEP 9: Foam strip with rounded edges.

Morrish Hopper

Step 10

STEP 10: Next, round the edges of the pointed end of foam piece. Notice angle of cut above.  Trim all four edges using this angle.

Morrish Hopper Body

Step 11

STEP 11: You should now have a pointed and rounded piece of foam.

Trim Morrish Hopper

Steps 12-14

STEP 12-14: Shape tail which is the pointed end of fly.  First trim top of fly as shown in Step 12. Then trim off very point at angle shown in Step 13. In Step 14, notice how the light color of foam ends just short of upper dark piece of fly. Trim away light colored foam.

Morrish Hopper

Step 15

STEP 15: Trim foam piece to desired length and round edges of head of foam piece.  Size 8 Morrish Hopper is about 1.5 inches long, size 10 is 1.25 inches long, and size 12 is 1 inch long.

Morrish Hopper Foam Body

Step 16

STEP 16: Here is a size 12 Morrish Hopper body that is 3/16″ wide and 1 inch long with rounded edges.

Hopper Body

Step 17

STEP 17: Cut out notch on the bottom, lighter colored belly of the hopper with a double-edged blade.  Notice notch is less than 2mm deep… not all the way through the light colored foam.  Notch is about 2 eye lengths behind head of foam.

Morrish Hopper

Step 18

STEP 18:On the bottom, or belly of the hopper, make a cut with the double-edged blade down the middle of the foam hopper.  Depth of cut is through first layer of foam only as seen in photo. Notice depth of cut, and that the cut goes to the notch only, not all the way to the head of the hopper.  This cut is where the hook will sit. See photo.

Tying Morrish Hopper

Step 19

STEP 19: Place hook in vise and make a thread base.  Advance thread to the middle of thread base or middle of hook.

Tying Morrish Hopper

Step 20

STEP 20: Position foam body on hook as shown.  Hook eye is in the cut out notch and the hook body is sitting inside the middle cut made in Step 18. Take two loose wraps of thread around the foam body, then cinch down the body with firm pressure.

Glue Morrish Hopper

Step 21

STEP 21: Lift up tail of hopper and apply just enough superglue to wet the thread wraps. Reposition tail of hopper onto hook, and squeeze tail of hopper around glued area.  Foam should cover and hide the body of the hook.

Morrish Hopper Fly

Step 22

STEP 22: Repeat step above.  Lift head of fly, apply very thin layer of glue to thread wraps, reposition head and squeeze head of hopper until glue dries.  Should take about 5 seconds for superglue to dry.


Step 23

STEP 23: Squeeze head of hopper onto hook.  Notice hook is no longer showing on the belly of the hopper.

Hopper Foam Body

Step 24

STEP 24: This is the finished hopper body glued to the hook.

Hopper Foam

Step 25

STEP 25: Trim a thin 1/8″ wide strip of orange 2mm foam and trim one end to a point.

Foam Flies

Step 26

STEP 26: Attach foam post with one or two firm thread wraps.  Point of post should extend to bend of hook.

Hopper Legs

Step 27

STEP 27: Knot rubber legs as shown in photo above.  Front legs are a single strand of leg material, knotted, and about 2 inches long.  Back legs are 2 pieces of leg material knotted together, and 2 inches long.

Attaching Hopper Legs

Step 28

STEP 28: Tie back legs onto hopper.  The knots of the back legs should extend to just shy of the tail of the hopper.  Keep wraps to a minimum here.  8-10 wraps in all should hold everything in place.

Morrish Hopper Legs

Step 29

STEP 29: Trim legs as shown.  Advance thread over top of foam hopper half the distance to the eye of the hook.  Bind down foam with 2-3 very firm thread wraps.

Foam Hopper Legs

Step 30

STEP 30: Bind down foam post with 1-2 wraps of thread.

Hopper Rubber Legs

Step 31

STEP 31: Tie in front legs on both sides of hopper.  Knots on front legs should extend to bend of hook.

Morrish Hopper

Step 32

STEP 32: Whip finish fly at this point.  Front legs might twist on you, but you should be able to reposition them after you whip finish the fly. Add eyes to hopper with black marker.

Morrish Hopper Under

Finished Morrish Hopper Trout View

STEP 33: Finish trimming all legs to desired length.  Apply superglue to thread wraps and knots in legs for extra durability.

Finished Morrish Hopper

Finished Morrish Hopper

You now have a finished Morrish Hopper.  Tie yourself up a handful of these this winter and give them a try this summer.  Have fun experimenting with different body and leg colors and let me know which ones work the best for you.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. masterbaetis permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:27 am

    Nice. I just had a wild hair and searched for morrish hopper – I know it’s only February, but one can always dream – and look what I found! Nice job on breaking it down and making it simple. Time to get busy, although it could be 6 months early.

    • February 24, 2010 1:54 am

      Never too early to think about throwing hoppers, or tying hoppers for summer. I know i should be filling my nymph boxes with the usual stuff, but tying up some foam hoppers gets those creative juices flowing. Have fun with this one.

  2. Mike Sweeney permalink
    July 14, 2010 7:33 pm

    Thanks for a great pattern, will tie some up and try at my trout lease in New Mexico where it should be hopper heaven about right now!

  3. David Kawahata permalink
    December 13, 2011 5:54 pm

    Everytime I tie those damn legs I get a handicapped hopper with two upside down legs?!?!

    • December 13, 2011 6:06 pm

      Try tying the legs in with light thread pressure, adjust legs to proper position…next add light dab of superglue to secure legs…Also, make sure your tying in post before you tie in legs. About 5-6 light thread wraps w/superglue will hold both sets of legs. You personally don’t have to worry about fly durability anyways with the few numbers of trout your able to entice.

  4. kuhnflyfish permalink
    June 27, 2012 10:25 am

    Great instructions, very detailed. By far my favorite hopper pattern.

  5. July 15, 2012 3:32 pm

    man you tie a sweet fly

  6. loomis4wt permalink
    December 29, 2012 12:09 pm

    Your tutuorials are excellent. In order to form the rounded body as described, I used a large emery board. (my wife was NOT happy!) It was much easier to get the shape as opposed to trimming with a scissors. Can’t wait to fish this pattern. Thanks for your willingness to share your expertise.


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