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What’s in my fly box: August

August 12, 2013

flies for fishing August in Montana

What’s in my flybox for the Month of August?  Hoppers, ants, spruce moths, tricos and beetles.  Normally, my fly boxes are full of mainly hoppers for August fishing in Montana.  This summer, with the low clear water conditions, fish are keying in on smaller insects like tricos and other small mayflies that are prolific during the early morning hours.  I’ve seen numerous 20″ fish sipping on size 22 spinners on local freestone rivers the last couple of weeks.  Fishing micro-patterns is a common occurrence for our tailwater fisheries, but not necessarily the norm for freestone streams unless you’re willing to seek out those large sipping fish in slow, lazy shady water.  Chucking a plump hopper next to a sipping fish can sometimes draw a strike, but it’s usually better to present a small parachute fly, like a parachute adams or purple haze instead.

Ants and beetles are great searching flies for the month of August any time of day.  If nothing else is happening, try fishing one of these smaller terrestrials.  I’ve seen feeding fish, sipping on spinners, move a couple of feet to eat a black foam ant or beetle.  If in doubt, whip a black fly out.

The bulk of my August fly boxes are still filled with hoppers of every size and color.  Usually, size 10-12 hoppers are the go-to hopper size, but it pays to have a couple of huge size 2-4 hoppers to fish in deeper water, or out in the middle of the river when the fish aren’t taking hoppers along the rivers edge.  Each year, and even day-to day, the fish seem to prefer one color of hopper over another.  Currently, this year, goldenrod and tan hoppers have been the most productive colors.  Last year, pink bellied hoppers were the clear favorite.

Keep me posted on what’s in your fly box.  It’s always interesting to hear what’s working on your local streams.

Variations on the Chubby Chernobyl

March 21, 2013

chubby chernobyl foam flies

The Chubby Chernobyl has been around for years, yet this fly is still the go-to fly for many fly fisherman and guides here in Montana.  Chernobyl-style flies have been catching fish for decades, starting with the basic, but deadly chernobyl ant back in 80’s, to the chernobyl hopper in the 90’s, to the present day chubby.  There is really nothing new about the chubby, as far as basic profile goes, yet the addition of a poly wing really makes this fly one of the most versatile flies ever for imitating adult stoneflies, grasshoppers, crickets, cicada, and even caddis.  The poly wing helps float this fly, with or without a heavy dropper nymph, in fast choppy water.  Also, the bright wing is easy to see in virtually any light conditions, making sure the angler doesn’t lose sight of his or her fly, and miss any subtle eats.

The standard Chubby Chernobyl does a great job of imitating bigger stoneflies and grasshoppers, yet with a little imaginative alteration, chubby-style flies can be tied to closer imitate smaller stoneflies and caddis, like black winter stoneflies, yellow sallies, skwala’s and october caddis as well.  I have tied effective chubby’s down to size 16 for yellow sallies and caddis, plus, size 16 chubby’s make great dry-dropper flies in the fall and spring during midge/baetis hatches because of their durability and floatability.

I have had great luck with Chubby Chernobyl flies in all size and colors.  Below are a few examples of chubby’s tied to imitate either specific bugs, or just general attractors.  I can’t wait to try the Royal Chubby Chernobyl this summer.  Tie some up and let me know how they work.


Variation #1:  Yellow Hopper Chubby

Tail:  Red crystal flash

Body:  Yellow dubbing

Foam:  Cocoa 2mm foam

Wing:  Poly wing, macrame yarn, mcflylon

Legs:  Medium barred brown/black rubber legs

Variation #2:  Bullet Head Chubby Chernobyl

Tail:  Pearl crystal flash

Body:  Brown UV Ice Dub

Foam:  Black 2mm foam

Wing:  White poly

Legs:  Purple sili-legs

Eyes:  Purple 2mm foam

Variation #3 :  Olive Chubby Chernobyl

Tail:  Pearl crystal flash

Body: Olive Ice Dub

Foam:  Olive 2mm foam

Wing:  White poly

Legs:  Tan sili-legs

Variation #4:  Norm Wood Chubby Chernobyl

Tail:  Pearl crystal flash

Body:  Goldenstone dubbing, orange dubbing near head of fly

Foam:  Tan 2mm foam

Wing:  White poly

Legs:  Brown sili-legs


Variation #5:  Fuzzy Foam Chubby – Purple

Body:  Fuzzy Foam Purple

Wing:  White Poly

Foam Wing:  Brown 1mm Foam.  I use a foam wing on this pattern to help push the wing back without using dubbing or a lot of thread wraps.

Legs:  White/black barred round rubber legs

Variation #6:  Pink Bodied Chubby Chernobyl

Tail:  Pearl crystal flash

Body: Pink dubbing

Foam:  Tan 2mm Foam

Wing:  Pink Poly

Legs:  Barred rubber legs


Variation #7:  Yellow Sally Chubby

Body:  Goldenrod Round Foam Body

Wing:  Fine Poly Yarn

Legs:  Fine barred rubber legs


Variation #8:  Fuzzy Chubby Salmonfly

Tail:  Brown crystal flash

Body:  2mm fuzzy foam in Salmonfly

Wing:  Charcoal Poly Wing

Legs:  Brown sili-legs


Variation #9:  Royal Chubby Chernobyl 

Tail:  Brown biots

Body: Peacock herl, red floss

Foam:  Brown 2mm Foam

Wing:  White poly

Legs:  Barred white/black sili-legs


Variation #10:  Brown Chubby Chernobyl

Tail:  Brown crystal flash

Body:  Brown Ice Dubbing

Foam:  Brown 2mm foam

Wing: White poly

Legs:  Brown barred super floss


Vatiation #11:  Black and Tan Chubby

Tail:  Pearl crystal flash

Body:  Tan Ice Dubbing

Foam:  Black 2mm foam

Wing:  White poly

Legs:  Black and Gold sili-legs


Variation #12:  Skwala Chubby Chernobyl

Egg Sac:  Black 2mm Foam

Under-wing:  Tape wing

Body:  Olive Ice Dubbing

Foam:  Olive 1mm foam

Wing:  Fine gray poly, or cdc

Legs:  Fine sili-legs

004chubbyvariationsVariation #13:  Fuzzy Chubby – Realistic Goldenstone

Body:  Fuzzy Foam – Realistic Goldenstone

Wing:  White Poly

Foam Wing:  Brown 1mm Foam

Legs:  Gold barred rubber legs – brown

Carnage Hopper Tutorial

December 10, 2012

finished carnage hopper


The Carnage Hopper from MFC is a great hopper pattern that should be in everyone’s terrestrial fly box. This realistic foam hopper has a unique segmented body, eye-catching red rubber legs, and a durable over-wing.  There are days when the fish seem to really key in on the color red incorporated into certain patters like the legs on the Carnage Hopper and Stalcup’s Hopper, or the red tail on the Streambank Hopper and Dave’s Hopper.  This pattern is a durable, high-floating grasshopper that is fun to tie and catches fish. Tie some up and let me know how they work.


Hook:  Dai-Riki #730 nymph hook.  For the last few years I’ve been tying all my foam hoppers on nymph hooks because of their durability, plus my hoppers seem to land upright more often with the heavier hooks.

Thread:  UTC 140 denier.  The best foam pattern tying thread because of its strength, and the fact that it doesn’t cut fly tying foam because its a flat thread.

Body:  1mm foam

Over-wing:  MFC Flex-wing.

Back Legs:  Hareline round medium legs.  Natural color

Head:  6mm foam

Post: White poly yarn

Front legs:  X-small rubber legs.

Dubbing:  Dry fly dubbing to match body color.

Tying the Carnage Hopper

Step 1:  Place a thin needle in the vise.

Montana Foam Fly

Step 2:  Cut a thin, tapered strip of 1mm foam.  Strip of foam should taper from 1/2 gap of hook at the narrow end, to 3/4 gap of hook at the thicker end and be 3-4 inches in total length.

Tying Foam Flies

Step 3:  Place narrow strip of foam on needle as shown above.  You want about a 1/2 inch of foam extended above the needle.  Next, apply some dubbing wax to the needle.  The wax will keep the foam from bonding to the needle after the super-glue is applied in the next step.

gluing foam for hopper

Step 4:  After applying the dubbing wax to the needle, brush on a thin layer of super-glue to the foam strip.

wrapping foam for hopper

Step 5:  After applying the super-glue, hold the short end of the foam strip with one hand.  With the other hand, wrap the foam strip around the hook, overlapping the foam with each turn.

foam fly tying creating body

Step 6: Continue to wrap the foam forward until you have 4-6 wraps of foam around the hook.  Notice the slightly tapered foam strip is forming a gradually tapered body.

Carnage Hopper

Step 7:  After 4-6 foam body segments are formed, you should be able to let go of the foam strips.  Remember, a thin layer of super-glue will bond better than a thick layer of super-glue.  Next, slide the foam body off of the needle.

foam fly tying Carnage Hopper

Step 8:  Form a thread base on the hook.  End thread as pictured above.

glue on hook fly tying

Step 9:  Apply a thin layer of super-glue to the end of the thread base.

wrapped foam body

Step 10:  Place the extended foam body on top of the hook.  Notice that the tapered foam strip is facing down and on the back side of the hook.  Also, the edge of the foam strip is in line with the barb.

glue foam body to hook

Step 11:  Apple a thin layer of super-glue to the extended body, as pictured above, and along the foam strip.

attach foam body on Carnage Hopper

Step 12:  Wrap the foam strip around the hook/extended body.

wrapping foam hopper body

Step 13:  Next, apply a thin layer of super-glue along the foam strip and on the hook up to the bobbin thread.

Carnage Hopper Body

Step 14:  Wrap the foam strip forward to achieve the desired segments.  Usually 4-5 segments will create the desired look.  Above, I applied 4 wraps/segments for a size 10 hopper.

foam hopper

Step 15:  Bind the foam strip down with a few wraps of thread.  Next, trim the remaining strip of foam flush, at an angle.

tying Carnage Hopper

Step 16:  Trim the remaining strip of foam off the tail of the hopper body.  Wind thread to 2-3 eye lenghts behind eye of hook.

6mm Foam body

Step 17:  Cut a strip of 6mm foam to form the head of the hopper.  The strip of foam should be 6mm tall (or 1 hook gap tall), and 4mm wide (or 3/4 hook gap in width) and 1/2″ long.

Carnage Hopper

Image of foam dimensions.

attaching 6mm foam to hopper

Step 18:  Bind down 6mm foam strip with 3-4 firm wraps of thread.  

Foam Hopper Tying

Step 19:  Firmly bind down the hopper head and body with a few more wraps of thread.  Try not to crowd the eye of the hook with thread wraps.

trim hopper body

Step 20:  Trim head of hopper to shape as shown above.  Notice the cut with the scissors is vertical.

Add Montana Fly Company flexi wing to hopper

Step 21:  Cut a strip of MFC Flew wing to shape.  The wing should be about a hook gap in width, and length of the hopper body.

winged foam hopper

Step 22:  Bind down hopper wing with 5-6 firm thread wraps.

add wing to foam hopper

Step 23:  Apply a strand of poly yarn for the post.

poly wing on foam hopper

Step 24:  Double the poly yarn over, and secure with a few wraps of thread.

poly wing Carnage Hopper

Step 25:  Trip the post to length.  Post should extend to barb of hook.

rubber legs on foam hopper

Step 26:  Make a pair of knotted hopper legs.  Next, color the legs black and red with a Sharpie pen.

realistic hopper legs

Step 27:  Secure the hopper legs on both sides of the hopper.  The knots in the legs should extend to bend of hook.

tie in rubber hopper legs

Step 28:  Trim the hind leg tag ends flush with the thread wraps. Next, bind down the front legs of the hopper as shown above.

carnage hopper

Step 29:  Cover the thread wraps with dubbing and whip finish fly.  Add eyes and body marking with permanent marker.

carnage hopper top view

Completed Carnage Hopper

front view of Carnage Hopper

Carnage Hopper

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.

Improved Thunder Thighs Hopper Tutorial

March 1, 2012

thunder thighs hopper


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 or Veevus 8/0.  Both great foam tying thread options.

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-flex material.  You can knot on any rubber leg material. The super-flex 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.

Thunder Thighs Hopper Kit: We offer kits on our store with bodies, wings, legs, hi-viz foam & black eye foam all in one kit!

wrapping thread on hookStep 1:  Form a thread base on hook.  End thread at hook barb.

measure foam body for hopperStep 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.

thickness of foam hopper bodyPre-cut foam body that is about as wide as gap of hook.  This will be placement of foam body on hook.

attach foam body to hookStep 3:  Bind down the hopper body with 3-4 firm thread wraps.

tying thunder thighs hopperStep 4:  Form a body segment by crossing the thread over the top of the foam strip. Next, wrap 2-3 times to create first segment.

cross thread over body Top view of first body segment.

foam body on thunder thighs hopperStep 5:  Advance thread back, on top of foam body, to create second body segment.  Form segment with 2-3 thread wraps.

body segments for thunder thighs hopperStep 6:  Advance thread to hook barb by criss-crossing thread forward over the two body segments.

tying foam hopperStep 7:  Advance thread forward, on hook only, just in front of hook point.  Next, bind down third body segment with 3-4 firm thread wraps.

foam body thunder thighsStep 8:  Advance thread forward, on hook only to just beyond 1/2 way point on hook shank, as pictured above.  Next, bind down foam hopper body with 3-4 firm thread wraps.

advance thread on hopperStep 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.

foam bodyStep 10:  Bind down foam hopper body with 2-3 firm thread wraps.

flash underwing on foam hopperStep 11:  Tie in 6-10 strands of micro flash.  Trim so ends extend just beyond body of hopper.

cut wing for hopperStep 12:  Shape a piece of 1mm tan foam for the wing of the grasshopper.  The wing is gap of hook in width and about 1 1/2″ long.

1mm foam wingStep 13:  Trim out small notch in end of wing.

tie in foam wingStep 14:  Bind down wing with 2-3 firm wraps of thread.  End of wing should extend to just beyond hopper body.

top view of foam wingTop view of wing.

tying in post on thunder thighs hopperStep 15:  Trim wing butts.  Next, bind down hi-viz 2mm foam post with 2-3 firm wraps of thread.

foam eyes for hopperStep 16:  Trim a small strip of 2mm black foam.

tie in foam strip for eyesStep 17:  Fold foam body over the small strip of black foam as shown above.  Here we are forming the bullet-head of the hopper.  Notice how the fold of foam extends beyond the eye of the hook.

creating head on foam hopperStep 18: Bind down head of hopper with 4-5 firm thread wraps.

top view of foam eyesTop view of hopper.

trim foam on hopperStep 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.

thunder thighs foam hopperPicture of trimmed hopper.

trim post on hopperStep 20:  Bind down foam butts that you just trimmed with 8-10 wraps of thread.

thunder thighs foam legsStep 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.

tie in foam legsStep 22:  Tie in Thunder Thigh legs.

length of foam legsNotice, legs extend to last body segment.

trim foam legs on hopperStep 23:  After tying in both legs, trim butts of legs. Next, wrap over butts of legs with a few thread wraps.

tie in rubber legs on hopperStep 24:  Tie in front legs of hopper.

rubber legs on foam hopperTop view of front legs tied in.

add dubbing to hopperStep 25:  Apply dubbing to thread.  Next, cover any exposed thread wraps with dubbing.  Finally, lift up head of hopper, and tie off hopper behind hook eye.

thunder thighs hopperStep 26:  Completed Thunder Thigh Hopper

trim legs on hopperTop view of killer hopper pattern.

completed thunder thighs foam hopper

Side view of hopper. Notice I marked the belly of the hopper with a bronze Prismacolor marker.

underside of thunder thighs hopper

360º View of “New” Thunder Thighs Hopper

February 15, 2012

thunder thighs hopper

Enjoy the view! Tutorial coming soon.

12 Variations on the Pink Pookie

February 7, 2012

variations on the pink pookie foam hopper

     As a fishing guide, I enjoy tying the majority of the nymphs, streamers and dry flies for my clients. Not only is tying flies cost effective, but having clients catch fish on hand tied flies that are a little different than what can be found in every fly shop, seems to make a difference.  I noticed early on in my guiding career that store bought flies certainly catch fish. But after a season of seeing the same  flies, the trout would refuse those patterns fairly regularly.  I began experimenting with tweaking flies, either by changing the colors or using different materials for common flies.  I noticed that substituting golden-dyed deer hair and brown legs for a Madam-X resulted in a great Golden Stone imitation.  Change the colors on the deadly parachute hopper to olive, add some short rubber legs, and you get a great Skwala pattern.  What I began to realize was I could have an arsenal of the same killer pattern, in various sizes and colors to imitate anything from caddis to Salmonflies.  But more importantly, now I had flies that no one else was fishing resulting in more fish caught.

     Dean Reiner’s Pink Pookie is a great hopper pattern.  This pattern has been around for years now and still catches fish.  The Pink Pookie floats like a cork and just looks buggy out on the water with its foam bullet head, deer hair over-wing and rubber legs.  This pattern reminds me of a foam Madam-X which has caught untold numbers of trout.  But there are days when the trout will not touch the original pink version of this grasshopper, but they will take a tan version, or goldenrod, fuzzy foam or black version instead.  Just by tweaking a great pattern to show the fish something different can make all the difference, even subtle changes in colors.  Pictured below are some alterations to the Pookie mainly using different colored foam, hair and legs.  With one pattern, I was able to adjust the size and color of the fly to imitate various hoppers, stoneflies, bees and crickets.

  Who knows, maybe that perfect pattern that you have been searching for this whole time for whatever hatch has been in your fly box all along…minus a few tweaks of course.

Variation #1: Yellow Grasshopper

Body:  Yellow 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Deer hair

Over-wing:  Tan 2mm foam

Eyes:  Medium plastic eyes

Variation #2: Foam Bee

Body:  Black 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Golden-dyed deer hair

Over-wing:  1mm yellow foam/ 1mm black foam

Legs:  Medium barred round rubber legs, yellow super-floss legs

Variation #3:  Tan Hopper

Body:  Tan 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Yellow-dyed deer hair

Over-wing:  Cocoa 2mm foam

Variation #4: Skwala Adult

Body:  Olive 2mm fuzzy foam

Under-wing:  Furled gray poly yarn/crystal flash

Over-wing:  Etha-wing, tape wing

Variation #5: Yellow and Green Hopper

Body:  Yellow 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Dun-dyed elk hair

Over-wing:  2mm green foam

Legs:  White barred sili legs

Variation #6: Salmonfly Adult

Body: Orange 3mm foam

Under-wing:  Elk hair

Over-wing:  Black 2mm foam

Legs:  Black medium round legs, orange super-floss

Variation #7: Fuzzy Foam Goldenstone

Body:  Brown 2mm fuzzy foam

Under-wing:  Golden-dyed deer hair

Over-wing:  Brown 2mm foam

Variation #8: Tan and Brown Grasshopper

Body:  Tan 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Elk hair

Over-wing:  Brown 2mm foam

Variation #9: Thunderthigh Pink Pookie

Body: Pink 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Elk

Over-wing:  Tan 2mm foam

Legs:  Medium round rubber tied to 1mm foam strip

Variation #9: Realistic Foam Hopper

Body:  Yellow 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Elk

Over-wing:  Green 2mm foam

Variation #10:  Tan and Cocoa Hopper

Body:  Tan 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Elk

Over-wing:  Cocoa 2mm foam

Variation #11: Foam Cricket

Body:  Black 2mm foam

Under-wing:  Black-dyed deer hair/organza

Over-wing: Black 2mm foam

Legs:  Medium black round rubber legs/superhair

The Hopper Store

January 1, 2012

The Hopper Store fly tying supplies

It is a new year and I am excited to be able to share with all of you my new online hopper tying supply store. Over the years I have searched high and low for a variety of colors and thicknesses of foam for tying my own personal hoppers and other foam flies. Now with the Hopper Store I hope to provide you with the best of what I have found in one convenient location.
fly tying foam

If you go check out the store, you will find fly tying foam from .5mm – 6mm thick in all the best colors. Along with sheets of foam, I have pre-cut bodies in various sizes, colors and thicknesses perfect for tying anything from 2mm Improved Chaos Hoppers to 6mm Morrish Hoppers. Some of my favorite foam to mix things up with lately has been the fuzzy foam and different two-tone combos. I plan to keep expanding the store as I discover new and better supplies. If there is anything that I don’t carry that you would like to see please let me know.

On a final note, I am offering free shipping on any item in the store from now until January 8th. To take advantage of the special, just enter the code FREESHIP2012 at checkout.

Happy tying and happy new year!

Green Machine Skwala Tutorial

January 1, 2012

two tone hoppersPATTERN DESCRIPTION:

The Green Machine was originally tied to imitate a Skwala stonefly which is a late-winter to early-spring hatching stonefly here in Montana.  The original Green Machine is tied with brown/olive two-tone foam, with the olive tied down as the underside of the body to match the greenish belly of a Skwala adult. In addition to being a great Skwala pattern, I’ve tied the Green Machine in darker two-tone colors like tan/cocoa to imitate caddis and in lighter colors like yellow/tan or cocoa/flesh to imitate grasshoppers.

The Green Machine is a must have fly in every fly box because of its versatility for imitating caddis, stoneflies and hoppers. This little pattern rides high and is easy to see because of its thick foam body and deer hair wing and fish seem to confidently take this fly year after year.


Hook:  2x-long dry fly or nymph hook.

Thread:  UTC 14o denier.  I usually use a contrasting color for this fly like yellow thread against green foam or brown thread against tan foam.

Tail: Brown biots

Foam:  Two-tone foam with a total thickness of 4mm.

Legs:  Medium size round rubber legs.

Underwing:  Crystal Flash

Wing:  Deer Hair.  I tie a few patterns with bleached deer hair as well.  The bleached hair is easier to see in low light situations.

Post:  White polywing

wrapping thread on hookStep 1:  Form a thread base on hook.  End thread at hook barb.

green machine tailStep 2:  Measure biots as shown. Biots should extend one hook gap beyond tie in point.

tying in tail for green machine flyStep 3:  Tie in biots at hook point and wrap thread forward to tie down biots.

green machine skwalaStep 4:  Trim biots. Next cover ends of biots with a few thread wraps.  End thread at hook point.

two tone foam for green machineStep 5:  Prepare two-tone foam strip.  Width of foam should be about hook gap in width and 2″ long.  The original Green Machine has a pointed tapered tail.  I used a medium pre-cut foam body above.

tying in foamStep 6:  Tie down foam body with 2-3 firm wraps of thread.  End of body should extend just beyond biots.

tying in rubber legsStep 7:  Tie in legs on both sides of body with 5-6 thread wraps.

advance thread for green machineStep 8:  Advance thread on hook only to mid-point of hook shank.

two tone foam skwalaStep 9:  Tie down foam body with 2-3 firm thread wraps.  Keep thread wraps to a minimum here…we still need to tie in wings and legs at this tie-in point.

flash for green machineStep 10:  Prepare 6-8 strands of crystal flash. We are going to double-over the wing so there will be 12-16 strands of crystal flash for the under-wing. Tie in crystal flash with 1-2 wraps of thread.

tying in flash on two tone flyStep 11:  Push down crystal flash against foam body, trim flash even with end of body.

tying in wing Step 12:  Prepare small clump of deer hair.  Tips of hair should extend just beyond end of foam body.

tying in deer hair wing on green machineStep 13:  Apply two loose wraps of tread around butts of deer hair.  Next, tighten down loose wraps of thread by firmly pulling down on bobbin.  Apply 1-2 firm wraps of thread to secure deer hair.tying in z-lon on two tone flyStep 14:  Apply z-lon post with 1-2 firm wraps of thread at same tie-in point as deer hair.

tying in front rubber legsStep 15:  Tie in legs on both sides of body as shown above.

green machineStep 16:  Advance thread, on hook only, to one eye length behind hook-eye as shown above.

trout view of green machineStep 17:  Tie down foam body with 4-5 firm thread wraps.

trimming head on foam fly

Step 18:  Trim head of fly to shape and trim legs to length.  Notice legs on this fly are pretty short… each of 4 legs are about length of body. Trim post.  Post should be about length of deer hair.  Trim butts of post close to tie-in point.

finished green machineFinished Green Machine

Fuzzy Foam Grand Hopper Tutorial

December 13, 2011

Hi-vis fuzzy foam grand hopperPATTERN DESCRIPTION:

How to tie Rainy’s High-Viz Grand Hopper.  Rainy’s Grand Hopper has been around for years, but the trout never seem to get tired of eating this realistic foam hopper.  With it’s wiggly, knotted rubber legs, thick foam body, and realistic over-wing, this hopper just flat out works.

I think the main fish attracting characteristic of this hopper is the thick foam body.  Most foam hoppers have bodies that are anywhere from 2mm- 6mm thick. Popular 2mm thick hopper patterns include the Improved Chaos Hopper, Sanchez Foam Hopper, and the Chubby Chernobyl.  4mm thick hopper patterns include Chernobyl Hoppers, Doug McKnight’s Sweetgrass Hopper and the Pink Pookie.  5mm-6mm thick hopper patterns include the Morrish Hopper, and the Grand Hopper.  All of these patterns catch trout,  but some days the fish seem to key in on hoppers that are sitting low in water, much like the real thing. The thicker the foam body on the hopper, the lower the hopper rides in the water.

The Grand Hopper is a deadly pattern that should be in everybody’s fly box, especially on those days when the fish are looking for low riding, thick bodied hoppers.  This hopper is easy to tie, and looks great in all sizes and colors.


Hook:  Dai-Riki #730 hook size 6-14.  For the last few years I’ve been tying all my foam hoppers on nymph hooks because of their durability, plus my hoppers seem to land upright more often with the heavier hooks.

Thread:  UTC 140 denier.  Great foam tying thread because of its strength, and the fact that it doesn’t cut foam.

Foam:  5-6mm fly tying foam. You can use Fuzzy Foam, 6mm fly tying foam, or multi-layer two tone foam.  You can make your own fuzzy foam by adding furry foam to any foam with glue.

Underwing:  Crystal flash.

Wing:  Hen saddle feather applied to packing tape, trimmed to shape.

Legs: Medium attached round rubber legs from a strand.

Dubbing:  Dry fly dubbing.  I usually dub a slightly contrasting color than the color of the foam.

Post:  Any high-viz 2mm foam such as orange, goldenrod, or yellow.

thread base for fuzzy foam grand hopperStep 1:  Form a thread base on hook.  End thread 2 eye-lengths back from hook eye.

pre-cut foam bodyStep 2:  Cut hopper body out of layered foam, or trim out body with scissors.  Good rule for trimming out bodies is to cut hopper bodies the width of hook gap.  Above, I have a medium sized, pre-cut hopper body and a size 1o 2xl hook.

Grand Hopper tutorialStep 3: Trimmed out 5mm hopper body.

attaching hopper bodyStep 4:  Using a razor blade or scissors, cut a slit in foam body. Depth of slit should be about 2mm.

fuzzy foam body Step 5:  Notice the cut in the foam starts about a hook gap from tapered end of foam and ends at about the hook eye.

gluing fly tying foamStep 6:  Apply a very thin layer of super glue to thread wraps.  We want the super glue to quickly set upon placement of foam body.  If you add too much glue, you will have to hold the body in place for several minutes before the glue dries.

attaching foam hopper body to hookStep 7:  Place foam hopper body onto hook. The slice in the foam should now just cover the hook as shown above.  Secure foam body to hook with 2-3 thread wraps.  Notice the hopper body is sitting high on the hook, not interfering with the hook gap.

tying grasshoppersStep 8:  Cross the thread back over the body of hopper, and secure the hopper body to hook with 2-3 thread wraps.

adding flash to hopper bodyStep 9:  Apply and trim about a dozen strands of crystal flash for underwing.  The underwing should extend just beyond tapered end of hopper.

hopper wings how-toStep 10:  Make hopper wing.  Tear of a small piece of clear packing tape.  If you can find industrial strength tape, the feather should stay adhered.  For extra durability, add some spray adhesive to tape before applying feather.

feather hopper wingsStep 11:  Affix feathers to sticky side of packing tape.

single feather foam hopper wingStep 12:  Hopper wing.

shape feather wing for Grand HopperStep 13:  Trim hopper overwing to shape.  I like the wing to be a little wider than the body of the hopper.

cut feather wing with scissorsStep 14:  Once you’re happy with the width of the wing, fold the wing in half with sticky side of tape on the outside. Next trim one end of wing with scissors at angle as shown.

Grand Hopper wingStep 15:  Shaped hopper wing.

attach wing to hopperStep 16:  Tie in hopper wing.  End of wing should extend to ends of crystal flash.

view of hopper wing from belowStep 17:  Tied in wing.

Tie knot in rubber legsStep 18:  Make the knotted hopper legs.  Tie a loose overhand knot in 3-strands of med. round rubber leg material.  Hold knot as shown above, and apply a small dab of super glue to the overhand knot.

Glue knot in rubber hopper legsStep 19:  After applying superglue, tighten overhand knot.  The superglue will hold knot in place and doesn’t seem to weaken rubber legs if only a small amount is used.

Rubber legs for Grand HopperStep 20:  Knotted rubber hopper legs.

Tie in back hopper legsStep 21:  Tie in hopper legs.  I usually tie in legs so the overhand knot is even with hook bend.

Grand Hopper with legsStep 22:  Trim legs at tie-in point and bind down with thread wraps.

dubbing on Grand HopperStep 23:  Cover thread wraps with dubbing.

insert front rubber hopper legsStep 24:  Attach single-strand front legs to both sides of hopper.

top view of rubber legsStep 25:  Top view of tied in hopper legs.

indicator post on Grand HopperStep 26:  Attach post to hopper with 3-4 thread wraps.  Notice tie-in of post is same as tie-in of front legs.

top view of indicator post on Grand HopperStep 27:  Top view of post.

adding hopper dubbing to fly tying threadStep 28:  Apply dubbing to thread.  Apply enough dubbing to wrap 2-3 times around post tie-in area, and 2-3 wraps towards hook eye, or enough to cover up all thread wraps.

whip finished Grand HopperStep 29:  Whip finish hopper.

trimming foam hopperStep 30:  Trim head of hopper.

rubber hopper legsStep 31:  Separate 3-strands of rubber behind the overhand knot of back legs.

separated rubber hopper legsStep 32:  Trim away two of the strands of rubber behind overhand knot.

barring rubber legsStep 33:  (optional)  Barr rubber hopper legs with permanent marker.

barred rubber legs on Grand HopperStep 34:  Add eyes with permanent marker.

fuzzy foam Grand Hopper

Completed Grand Hopper

Hi-vis Grand HopperFuzzy Foam Grand Hoppers