Even though it’s June, it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s ahead of us. And there’s one thing we’re all thinking about here. Hoppers. In Vermont we typically we start seeing Hoppers and other terrestrials around the first or second week of July. Grasshoppers and other terrestrials are unique because these insects offer fish a lot more nutritional value than other insects mainly due to the fact they are often much larger. Another benefit is that there doesn’t need to be a hatch for grasshoppers to be out, once they’re around they will remain around until the first hard frost in September. Big trout that are normally quite selective will often feed on these meaty morsels sometimes even in the middle of the day exposing themselves and showing you their location.
Fishing a hopper isn’t all that difficult, very similar to traditional dry fly fishing in the sense that you want to dead drift the fly, although when hopper fishing, an occasional twitch might be all it takes to get that trophy brown fired up. One method to help increase the productivity of Hopper fishing is to fish a dropper off of the hopper. Grasshopper flies are typically very buoyant which will allow them to serve as both a fly and a strike indicator to an un-weighted or lightly weighted nymph. One of the challenges to fishing a hopper dropper rig is casting. False casting can be a challenge and can lead to unwanted tangles in your line. If you’re going to false cast be sure to slow everything down. As you slow your casting stroke it will open up the loops a bit which is ideal for casting this multi fly rig. Rolled casting is the preferred method to casting these rigs though, a simple roll cast is much less likley to cause a big tangle in your rig. When fishing a hopper dropper use a shorter leader to you hopper fly. Between 5 and 6 feet is ideal unless you’re in an area with extremely spooky fish or in crystal clear flat water. Having the shorter leader will make things a bit easier to cast and you also have to keep in mind the additional length from your dropper. Adding a dropper fly is rather easy. The length of your dropper tippet will be dicatated by where you want your dropper fly to be. Having said that, don’t expect to run a 9′ dropper off a hopper. That will not end well… We typically run them anywhere from 18″-36″ in length. To add the tippet simply tie it onto the bend of the hopper. We usually use fluorocarbon for this section as it will help the dropper sink a bit quicker and won’t be as noticeable to fish that are going to eat the hopper.
As far as fly selection goes plenty of traditional nymphs and wet flies will work well. Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs and all sorts of Caddis Pupa and emergers work well. Soft hackles are often deadly as well. Fishing a hopper dropper rig can often be much more productive than fishing a hopper solo, often times the hopper will attract the fish and may inspect it and those that don’t eat the hopper may eat the nymph as they are returning to their holding position. It’s also a relatively easy method to learn to fish and will often reward you with more fish! Check out our Hopper Dropper Fly Kit for some of our favorite hopper patterns and dropper patterns!