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Variations on Morrish Hopper

March 31, 2014

Morrish Hopper pattern ideas for foam hoppers

The Morrish Hopper has been the best hopper pattern the last few seasons, and for good reason.  The sculptured,  5-6mm thick foam body of the Morrish,  and knotted rubber legs, imitates the natural silhouette and bulk of the natural hopper, perfectly. It floats all day and requires very little maintenance.  This simple looking fly, simply works.  Even though you can buy this pattern in many different colors, there are endless foam/leg combinations that you can come up with to customize the Morrish Hopper to your liking.  I’ve had great results with flesh, yellow, cream or purple colored Morrish’s with rubber legs, or even thunder thigh legs.  My favorite variation is to add a poly wing under the foam post for better floatation and greater visibility. The poly wing helps keep the Morrish upright with every cast, plus it makes for a great hopper/dropper setup. Below are a few variations on the Morrish Hopper that I like to tie up.  Let me know some of your variations.

Morrish style hopper

Variation #1:  Thunder Thighs Hopper – Morrish Style

Body: Realistic Pre Cut Hopper Body, Tan/Olive

Kicker Legs: 1mm Foam with knotted super floss

Front Legs: Zebra Hopper Legs – Natural

Post: 1mm Orange Foam

yellow morrish foam hopper

Variation #2:  Madame Morrish

Foam Body:  Pre Cut Realistic Hopper Body, Tan/Yellow

Legs: Zebra Hopper Legs – Natural

Post:  1mm Yellow Foam

salmon fly foam pattern

Variation #3:  Salmor-ish 

Foam Body: Fuzzy Foam – Realistic Salmonfly

Wing:  Elk – Gray

Legs: Superfloss


 Variation #4:  Fuzzy Morrish

Foam Body:  Fuzzy Foam – Golden

Legs:  Zebra Hopper Legs – Natural

Post:  1mm Foam

Morrish Foam Hopper

Variation #5:  Inked Morrish 

Body:  5mm foam, Flesh/Gray

Legs: Zebra Hopper Legs – Green

green foam morrish hopper

 Variation #6:  Hopper Green 

Body:  Realistic Pre Cut Hopper Body, Olive/Green

Legs: Zebra Hopper Legs – Natural

Black and green hopper

Variation #7:  Cicada/Beetle

Body:  5mm Foam, Black/Insect Green

Legs: Barred Rubber Legs, Olive/Black

Wing:  Tape wing over poly wing

Post: 1mm Insect Green

tan brown foam morrish hopper

Variation #8:  Tan/Brown Morrish Hopper

Body:  Realistic Pre Cut Hopper Body, Tan/Brown

Legs: Zebra Legs

002MorrishHoppersVariation #9:  Purple Fuzzy Morrish

Body:  Fuzzy Foam – Purple

Legs: Zebra Hopper Legs

Great New Product – Hayes Hand Kickstarter

December 18, 2013

I wanted to let all of you know about a Kickstarter campaign going on right now that I would love to see funded. The campaign is trying to raise funds for the production of a new fly rod holder that was created by a local Livingston, Montana guy, Joe Clemons. I got to try out the prototype a little and love how versatile it is. You can use it in a raft, drift boat, back of your truck or attach it to your waist pack for wading. I hope you’ll go take a look and support the project! It’s about half way funded at the moment with just 16 days left and Joe is offering some great rewards ranging from getting the product itself to a fishing trip in Mexico.

Hayes Hand

The Easy E Hopper Tutorial

November 4, 2013

Easy E Hopper Tutorial


The Easy-E Hopper is an easy to see, easy to keep floating, and easy to tie, foam pattern that caught lots of fish this past summer.  I generally tie this foam bullet-head pattern in smaller sizes to imitate caddis, stoneflies and little hoppers.  The simple and durable madame-x style legs add lifelike movement to the pattern, but more importantly, the legs help this little pattern land upright and correct…nothing worse than having a pattern land sideways, or upside-down half the time, especially when you’re drifting from a boat and have one shot at a particular spot.  This pattern is similar to the chubby chernobyl in appearance and float ability,  with its thick dubbed body and poly wing.  Yet, by omitting the the chernobyl style legs, and adding single legs and a bullethead, this pattern can be tied in much smaller sizes than the chubby chernobyl, down to size 14, to better imitate smaller insects and terrestrials.  I tie this pattern mainly on a size 14, 3XL nymph hook with either tan or cocoa foam and a spiky hare’s ears dubbed body, or hare ear’s and ice dub mixed for a little more sparkle.  I also tie this same pattern with a high-viz orange poly-wing for better visibility in poor light conditions.  I thought the wing might scare off some fish, but they really didn’t seem to mind the bright orange wing. If you’re looking for great little attractor pattern, try tying up a couple of Easy E Hoppers and let me know how they work.


Hook:  Dai-Riki #710 nymph hook

Thread:  UTC 70 denier

Body:  2mm foam cut to shape

Dubbing:  Natural Hare’s Ear or Hare’s Ice Dub

Wing: Chubby Chernobyl Wing/Poly

Legs:  Zebra Hopper Legs – Goldenstone

Tying Easy E Foam Hopper

Step 1:  Form a thread base on hook.  End thread at hook eye.

Add dubbing to hook

Step 2: Dub a fairly thick body as shown above.  End thread at hook point.

      Cutting 2mm Foam body

Step 3:  Cut a strip of 2mm foam to shape.  The width of foam should be width of gap of hook and tapered at one end as shown.

2mm foam hopper body

  Step 4:  Attach foam strip to hook with 3-4 firm wraps of thread.

hopper tutorial adding wing material

Step 5:  Attach a strand of poly yarn with 3-4 firm wraps of thread.  Advance the thread in front of the poly wing and build a thread dam with 10-12 wraps of thread.  The wing should be slightly slanted back and very secure.

trim material on foam hopper

Step 6:  Gather the strand of poly together and trim at a slight angle as shown.  Length of wing should extend to end of tapered foam body.

tying easy e hopper

Step 7: Trimmed rear wing.

advancing thread tying hopper pattern

Step 8:  Apply a thin amount of dubbing, enough to cover up the thread wraps that secure the poly wing and enough dubbing to be able to advance thread to two eyes length behind hook-eye.

tying on foam hopper body

Step 9:  Bind down foam body with 3-4 firm wraps.

Adding second wing

Step 10:  Attach the front poly wing just like the rear wing.  3-4 wraps to bind down the poly wing, then 10-12 wraps in front of poly wing to secure.

tying foam hopper

Step 11:  Trim front wing.  Length of wing should be about the length of your hook and trim at a slight taper as shown.

Easy E Foam Hopper

Step 12:  Trimmed front wing.

foam hopper tutorial

Step 13:  Create the bullet-head by folding back the piece of foam and bind down with 5-6 wraps of thread.  Try to keep the thread wraps 2 eye lengths behind the hook eye.

Tying Foam Hoppers

Step 14:  Trim the butts of the foam flush to the poly wing and apply a few more wraps of thread back towards the wing to bind down any remaining foam.

Tying in rubber legs on hopper

Step 15:  Attach legs on both sides of the fly and bind legs down with 10-12 firm wraps of thread.

Easy E Hopper Top View

Step 16:  Apply a thin amount of dubbing, enough to cover up any remaining thread wraps.  Advance the thread to hook eye and whip finish.  Trim legs madame-x style…short in front, and longer towards the rear of the fly.  I usually trim the rear legs even with the end of the foam body.

Finished Easy E Foam HopperThe Completed Easy E

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.