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The Boulder Hopper Tutorial

March 27, 2012

Fish Magnet Hoppers


The Boulder Hopper is a newer pattern that I created for catching fussy fish in low, clear water.  By using thin foam for the body and wing, this hopper looks very realistic in smaller sizes.  I tie this hopper in sizes 8-16, but a size 12 seems to be the one to have.   For sizes 8-10, I use 3mm foam for the body and 3 strands of rubber for the legs.  For sizes 12-14, I use 2mm foam for the body and 2 strands of rubber for the legs.  For size 16, use 2mm foam for the body, and a single rubber strand for the legs.  Tied in tan, goldenrod, and apricot for body colors along with a tan, cinnamon or brown 1mm over-wing, this hopper can be tied to match any shade of grasshopper.  If your looking for an ultra-realistic,  high-floating, durable smaller hopper, tie up a few Boulder Hoppers and let me know what you think.


Hook:  Dai-Riki #730 nymph hook

Thread:  UTC 140 denier or Veevus 8/0

Body:  3mm foam (sizes 8-10)  2mm foam (sizes 12-14)

Flash:  Rootbeer micro flash

Under-wing:  Elk hair

Over-wing:  1mm foam

Legs:  Medium round rubber legs, 3-strands (sizes 8-10)  2 strands (sizes 12-14).

 Eyes:  Small strip black 2mm foam (optional).

Post:  1mm hi-vis foam

wrapping thread on hook

Step 1:  Form a 3-layer thread base on hook.  End thread between barb and point of hook.

measure foam body

Step 2:  Taper a strip of foam as shown above.  Strip of foam should be about width of gap, and twice as long as hook in length.  Above, I have a small Pre-cut body that is about 1 1/2″ long, and 1/4″ wide for a size 12 hook.

foam body for fish magnet hopper

Step 3:  Bind down foam strip with 4-5 wraps of thread.  Tapered end of foam should extend 1/2 hook length beyond tie in point.

tie in foam hopper body

Step 4:  Cross thread over the top of the foam strip and create a body segment with 2-3 wraps of thread as shown above.

segment body for foam hopper

Step 5:  Criss-cross the thread forward on top of foam strip.  Create a new segment just in front of hook point with 3-4 wraps of thread.

advance thread forward

Step 6:  Advance thread forward to eye of hook.

foam hopper body

 Step 7:  Bind down foam body strip with 2-3 wraps of thread.making body for fish magnet hopper

cross thread over

Step 8:  Cross the thread back over the top of the foam body and create the next body segment as shown above.  Notice the segment behind the eye of the hook is the largest segment.  This large segment is going to be the head of the hopper.

flash hopper wing

Step 9:  Tie  in 8-10 strands of micro-flash.  Ends of micro-flash should extend just beyond end of foam body.  Keep thread wraps to a minimum since the rest of the hopper is going to be tied in at this point.

deer hair hopper wing

Step 10:  Bind down a small clump of elk hair with 5-6 firm wraps of thread.  Ends of hair should extend just beyond foam body.

glue deer hair

Step 11:  Add a small amount of super-glue for durability.

create head for foam hopper

Step 12:  Form the head of the hopper by pulling back the strip of foam extending over the eye of the hook and binding down with 2-3 thread wraps.

top view of hopper head

Step 13:  Top view of head of hopper.

making rubber legs for hopper

Step 14:  Create legs by tying a loose over-hand knot in the rubber leg material.  Next, apply a small dab of super-glue to the knots and tighten knots.

tying in rubber legs on foam hopper

Step 15:  Tie in legs on both sides of the hopper.  The knots in the legs should extend to end of foam body.
under view of legs

 Under-side view of tied in legs.

measuring foam wing

Step 16:  Taper a strip of 1mm foam as shown above.  Width of wing should be about gap of hook in width.

trim foam hopper

Step 17:  Trim butts of bullet-head flush as shown above.

tying in foam wing on hopper

Step 18:  Bind down over-wing with 2-3 firm thread wraps.  End of wind should extend just beyond elk hair under-wing.

top view of 1mm foam wing

 Top view.

cut orange foam post

Step 19:  Cut a small strip of 1mm hi-vis foam to be used as a post.  Width of hi-vis foam should be narrower than foam wing.

tying in hi-vis post

Step 20:  Bind down post with 2-3 thread wraps.

trim post

Step 21:  Trim butts of post and foam wing flush.  Whip-finish at this point.

trim rubber legs on foam hopper

Step 22:  Finished Boulder Hopper.

top view of fish magnet hopper

trout view of fish magnet hopper

finished fish magnet hopper

3mm fish magnet hopper

Size 10 Boulder Hopper with a 3mm foam body, and black strip of foam placed between bullet-head to simulate eyes.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Loren Ipsen permalink
    March 27, 2012 3:33 pm

    Excellent pattern. You are doing the world (or at least the hopper-fishing part of the world) a service by providing tjhese hopper patterns.

  2. sllyrobert permalink
    March 28, 2012 3:24 am

    Incredible works and appreciate you for sharing the boulder hopper tutorial!! I like the pattern and such nice steps are helping me realize how to create such good pattern. Thanks

  3. Jared permalink
    April 1, 2012 10:18 pm

    this blog is a lifesaver man. making my first journey to montana this summer and with the only goal of catching some fish on hoppers. your patterns will definitely be among those in my boxes

  4. April 3, 2012 5:27 am

    Your flies are truly amazing! So realistic.

  5. July 3, 2012 12:20 am

    You saved me alot off time trying to do the legs, Thank You.

  6. Eric permalink
    July 29, 2012 3:35 pm

    Just came across your site by luck and I am so glad that I did! I love tying with foam and you have one of most informative and creative sites I have seen. Just wanted to tell you thanks for being willing to share all of your great ideas and insights. Your pictures and tying tutorials are fantastic, some of the best I’ve seen! Thanks again, I can tell you are passionate about your tying and fishing and if I’m ever in Montana it would be great to fish with you.

  7. July 30, 2012 10:45 pm

    I like it you are good at tying hoppers.Thanks

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