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Improved Chaos Hopper

March 20, 2010


How To Tie The Improved Chaos Hopper. The Improved Chaos Hopper created by Craig Matthews of West Yellowstone, is a great late-summer realistic hopper pattern.  This foam hopper has the right silhouette and just enough wiggle with its rubber legs to fool any trout late into the summer.  I really like the Improved Chaos Hopper in smaller sizes like 10-14’s in its original cocoa color, or even tan, goldenrod or peach colors.  Whenever I’m fishing low, gin-clear waters like those found in Yellowstone Park in August and September, or even the big rivers like the Big Horn or Yellowstone River where the fish have seen size 8-12 hoppers time and time again, I like to switch things up by tying on a size 12-14 Chaos Hopper. This pattern is easy to tie, very durable and buoyant, and looks and fishes great in extra-small sizes.  Tie some up, I think you’ll be pleased.


Hook: Dai-Riki #280 sizes 10-14

Thread: UTC Ultra 140 or 70 Denier brown thread.

I use the UTC 140 denier for the larger size foam hopper patterns, and the 70 denier for any foam pattern size 14 and smaller.

Foam: 2mm cocoa craft foam.

Wing: Tan Crinkled Z-Lon

Legs: Square rubber legs from Blue Ribbon Fly Shop sold in tan, yellow and green.  Pattern looks pretty good with med. round legs also.

Post: 2mm orange or yellow foam.

Improved Chaos Hopper

Step 1

Step 1: Cut a strip of 2mm craft foam.  Strip of foam should be width of gap of hook and 2″ long.

Chaos Hopper

Step 2

Step 2: Trim foam strip to a taper as shown.  Taper should be about half the length of the hook.

Tying Hopper

Step 3

Step 3: Build a thread base on the front 1/2 of the hook only.  I build a 3 layer thread base, then stop thread at point shown above. Right where the thread is hanging is where the foam strip is going to be tied in.


Step 4

Step 4: Pierce a hole in the foam strip as shown.  The hole should be placed a hook length from the tapered end of the foam strip and centered.

Chaos Hopper

Step 5

Step 5: Remove hook from vise and slide foam strip onto hook through the pierced hole made in the previous step.

Tying Chaos Hopper

Step 6

Step 6: Slip foam strip up to the thread base. Tie-in point is where thread is hanging in Step 3. Bind foam strip on top of hook with 2-3 firm thread wraps.

Foam Hopper

Step 7

Step 7: Lightly stretch the strip of foam extending over eye of hook.  Pull strip of foam against eye of hook.  The hook eye should leave a mark in the foam.  Use a bodkin and pierce a hole in the foam as seen in photo above.

Chaos Hopper Tying

Step 8

Step 8: Tie in z-lon overwing.  For the overwing, you will want two strands of z-lon extending towards the tail of the hopper.  Either tie in two separate strands of z-lon at tie-in point above or double a single strand of z-lon over itself to form a two-strand z-lon wing. Trim wings to length of foam hopper body.


Step 9

Step 9: Form bullet head of the hopper.  Push eye of hook through the hole made in Step 7. Apply super-glue to exposed thread base.

Foam Flies

Step 10

Step 10: Fold over foam strip to form a bullet head and cinch down foam with 2-3 firm thread wraps.  Notice there is no gap between bullet head and hook eye.  Cut off remaining foam strip as shown above.


Step 11

Step 11: Make a thread base for the legs.  Use 5-6 wraps of thread for the base. Notice that most of the hopper is all tied in at the same spot on the hook, therefore, keep thread wraps to a minimum.

Rubber Legs

Step 12

Step 12: Make the hopper legs by tying an over-hand knot in a 2″ strand of rubber leg material.  Repeat for other leg.

Improved Chaos Hopper

Step 13

Step 13: Tie in legs of hopper as shown.  Legs should be parallel to body and the knot of each leg should extend to bend of hook.

Chaos Hopper

Step 14

Step 14: Bind down legs with 5-6 wraps of thread.


Step 15

Step 15: Cut a thin strip of 2mm yellow foam for the post.  The foam strip should be slightly narrower than the head of the hopper as shown above.


Step 16

Step 16: Bind down foam post with 2-3 firm thread wraps.  Notice tie-in point is right in the middle of thread base. Whip-finish at this point. Foam post should extend to barb of hook.


Step 17

Step 17: Trim remaining foam post as shown in photo above.

Chaos Hopper

Step 18

Step 18: Top view of hopper.

Finished Hopper

Finished Improved Chaos Hopper

Step 19: Trim legs to desired length.  I trim the front legs to hook length, and portion of legs below the knots about half the length of the hook.

Chaos Hopper

Improved Chaos Hopper

I hope you get lots of use out of this pattern this summer. Let me know how it works for you.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Bigmageusa permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:50 pm

    Awesome! I’m going to have to try this one once I get back to my fly tying kit.

  2. June 21, 2010 2:25 pm

    Great stuff! I have to get to painting some hoppers…I’ll pull some off of here.

    • July 6, 2010 3:18 am

      Thanks for checking out the blog. Really like what your doing on your blog as well… great paintings

  3. Ralph permalink
    August 18, 2010 5:23 am

    tied some up for my trip to Montana last week. The fish on the Beaverhead loved them. Tied some large ones and smaller ones. In tan, brown,yellow and orange. The fish loved the tan ones, size 14

  4. September 9, 2010 5:37 pm

    The chaos is a great hopper. I’m looking forward to tying some of these in our flying club over the winter.

    • João Nicácio permalink
      January 21, 2011 5:41 pm

      It’s a fine hopper. I tied some, and they are very good to catch tilapias(Tilapia rendalli), apaiaris (Astronotus ocellatus), and larger size, the matrinchãs (Brycon amazonicus/Brycon cephalus).
      Thanks for these step-by-step.
      Lines up!

  5. Bill West permalink
    October 2, 2015 3:07 pm

    Very nice……


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