Written by Aidan Morton
To most, the dry, pale shade of yellow that overcomes our lawns, fields, and hillsides is a sign that the dog days of summer are upon us. To fly fishermen, however, late summer in Montana is synonymous with low water and big hopper fly patterns.
While our beloved summer stonefly and mayfly hatches hold a special place in our hearts and minds, I long for those warm afternoons throwing hopper fly patterns to the bank: gin-clear water, eager trout, and comically large foam hopper fly pattern imitations. Twitch ‘em, skate ‘em or tuck ‘em tight to an undercut bank— however you choose to fish them, these are the best five hopper fly patterns to have in your box this year.
This grasshopper fly pattern has raised the bar when it comes to realistic hopper patterns. KK’s Henneberry Hopper is a durable, easy-to-see foam hopper pattern that I never leave home without. With life-like, LLS legs, this fly is best twitched from the boat in hard to reach places. The adjoined micro rubberlegs simulate that desperate twitch grasshoppers make on the surface before they’re about to meet their fate. This fly is available in several colors and fools trout wherever hoppers frequent.
The More-or-Less Hopper fly pattern shows us yet again that less can be more. No crazy, unnecessary materials here, just two layers of foam and knotted round rubber legs. The result is a simple, thin hopper that floats like a cork. This, along with the numerous sizes and colors available in this pattern, is the reason our guides have the More-or-Less Hopper in their boat bags every season.
Looking for a buoyant grasshopper fly pattern to work those fast rifles effectively? RIO’s Juicy Hopper is the ticket. With not three, but four layers of foam, this fly can last you all day if dressed properly. Additionally, four knotted legs and a detailed underside give this pattern a stark profile. That’s why RIO’s Juicy Hopper has the edge when trout are playing hard to get.
Step aside Chubby Chernobyl, the Sweetgrass Hopper fly pattern is coming through. This is an ungodly large hopper that fishes like live bait. It can hold large droppers like a Chubby, but is unquestionably more realistic. Between the tapered extended body and the red kicking legs, there is much to be appreciated in this perfectly tied hopper. No matter the stream, trout can’t resist it.
The Sweet Dream first gained our attention as a stonefly, but it has quickly climbed the ranks as one of our favorite hoppers. Simply put, it’s just like nothing else in the bins today. Its thin, segmented body stands out from the huge hunks of foam that are the standard in the bins nowadays. Other hopper patterns envy how low the Sweet Dream sits in the water film. It’s also available on bite-size hooks, which comes in handy as the cunning trout that inhabit our rivers become more selective. Leave me stranded on Rock Creek with a 4-weight and a single hopper and needless to say you know what I’m picking.
Have more questions about hopper or terrestrial fly patterns? Give us a call and our Missoula fly fishing guides will be happy to help!