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Purple GFA Foam Hopper Tutorial

June 19, 2011


This hopper pattern was created by Walter Wiese out of Parks Fly Shop in Gardiner, Montana.  The GFA Hopper reminds me of the Madam-X, but with a little foam thrown in for floatation and a splash of color.  I really like this hopper in sz. 14 for fishing the smaller creeks here in Montana, but it works equally well on the big rivers like the Yellowstone River and Madison River late in the summer.  This pattern is easy to tie and looks and fishes well in all colors.  Tie some up and let me know how they work.


Hook: Dai Riki 280, sz 8-14.  The Dai Riki 280 is a specific Hopper Hook that is 2xl long with a curved shank.

Thread: UTC 70 denier for sz. 14, UTC 140 denier sz. 8-12.

Body:  2 mm craft foam.

Wing: Deer Hair.

Legs:  sz. medium rubber legs, barred.

Post:  2 mm craft foam, any bright color such as yellow, white, or orange.

Tying purple foam hopper

Step 1

Step 1:  Wrap a tread base to point of hook.  I usually wrap a 3-5 layer thread base which seems to keep the hopper body from twisting on the hook.

measuring foam

Step 2

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

measuring foam hopper

Step 3

Step 3:  Trim end of foam strip to a taper.  Next, place foam strip on top of hook as shown above and mark the foam with your fingernail just beyond the hook eye.

tying foam gfa hopper

Step 4

Step 4:  Place the foam strip on top of hook. Next, line up the thumbnail mark in foam with the point of hook.  Bind down foam with 5-6 firm wraps of foam.

hopper tying

Step 5

Step 5:  Advance thread forward, on hook only, about a quarter of the way to eye of hook.  Bind down foam with 5-6 firm wraps of thread.

advancing thread on foam hopper

Step 6

Step 6:  Advance tread, on hook only, to eye of hook.

glue foam hopper

Step 7

Step 7:  Apply some super-glue to thread wraps as shown.

purple foam hopper

Step 8

Step 8:  Bind down foam strip with 4-5 firm thread wraps just behind eye of hook.

tying purple foam hopper

Step 9

wrapping foam hopper

Top View

foam hopper tutorial

Under-body view

Step 9:  Advance thread back over foam body to middle of hook eye and point of hook as shown above.  Bind down foam with 2 firm wraps of thread. Notice the three body segments.  The front segment should be a little bigger than the other two segments.   Keeps thread wraps to a minimum here since the rest of the steps will be tied in here.

applying wing to hopper

Step 10

Step 10:  Tie in stacked deer hair with 4-5 firm wraps of thread.  The tips of hair should extend to tapered end of foam body.

deer hair hopper wing

Tied in deer hair

hopper wing

Step 11

Step 11:  Trim butts of deer hair.

gluing hopper

Step 12

Step 12:  Apply super-glue to butts of trimmed deer hair as shown above.

foam hopper

Step 13

Step 13:  Form bullet head of hopper.  Pull strip of foam extending over eye of hook back, and bind down with 2 firm wraps of thread.

tying purple foam hopper

Step 14

Step 14:  Trim remaining strip of foam to desired length.

marking rubber legs

Step 15

Step 15:  Barr the rubber legs using a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

rubber hopper legs

Step 16

Step 16:  Purple barred rubber legs.


Step 17

Step 17:  Tie in a foam post.  Cut a narrow strip of 2mm orange foam and bind down with 2 firm wraps of thread.

tying legs into hopper

Step 18

Step 18:  Tie in rubber legs on both sides of hopper body with 3-4 thread wraps.

hopper with legs

Step 18

finished gfa purple foam hopper

Completed Fly

Step 19: After tying in both legs, whip finish fly.  Trim legs and post to desired length.  I usually trim the back legs even with end of tapered body and trim the front legs shorter. For added durability,  apply head cement to the thread around the legs.

camo foam hoppers

Camo foam hoppers

pink camo foam gfa hopper

Pink Camo Foam GFA Hopper

handful of foam hoppers

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 5:04 am

    Original color! great pattern and good photographs.
    I am another crazy of foam flies.
    Your blog is on my list, greetings from Spain.

  2. June 20, 2011 8:23 am

    Very nice!

  3. August 8, 2011 9:45 pm

    Thanks for the great hopper tying pictures on your site. Although I live in Massachusetts I try to get to Montana / Idaho each year. I have had great success with hoppers with Copper Johns on a dropper. This is my favorite combination.

  4. September 21, 2011 12:25 am

    Great pictures and instruction, I really like the idea of using craft foam in flies.

  5. September 27, 2011 4:35 am

    Awesome fly man, can’t wait to tie some up and see how they work for me out in VA if we get another hopper hatch soon.

  6. December 24, 2011 4:11 pm

    Very nice! Great pattern and good photographs.

  7. December 24, 2011 4:12 pm

    Great pictures and instruction, I really like the idea.Very nice!

  8. March 25, 2014 10:18 am

    Glad I found this site. This fly is next on my list to tie up. Plan on ordering a Thunder Thighs Kit as well.

  9. Jim permalink
    August 1, 2014 2:47 pm

    Excellent instructions and photos- very clear and useful. I will tie some using these instructions and see how the big Cuts and Browns on the Snake River take to them. Expect they will find them juicy.

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