On the Fly: Hoppers and droppers
On the Fly
This is a special time of year because nearly every insect is hatching, from green drakes to PMDs, BWOs, midges, caddis and craneflies. Along with the plethora of aquatic insects, local rivers have plentiful terrestrial grasshoppers around and are settling into prime flows.
Riffles that have been hidden during our epic water year are now starting to reappear and fill up with feeding fish. Areas that were not crossable have now opened, allowing you to hit every pocket to your heart’s delight. With the excellent water flows and epic hatches, we are now fishing with many different techniques. One of our favorites is the classic hopper-dropper rig.
Fishing in this style is extremely productive for fishing shallow riffles. Recently many of us have been fishing hoppers as our top fly, and seeing great success on the Roaring Fork, Colorado, Crystal and lower Fryingpan rivers. Even though our hopper population is not as prevalent as other areas in the West, fish sure have been looking up and wanting a taste. Most grasshopper patterns are tied using thick buoyant foam, which keeps the fly riding high. Chubby Chernobyls are excellent hopper patterns that float well and can be easily seen. Another reason we enjoy fishing big hoppers, besides seeing such a large fly get eaten, is that they support heavier nymphs below without dragging your hopper under.
Jigged-style flies make excellent droppers. Not only are they heavily weighted to get down quick, but they also ride hook up, allowing it to bounce along the bottom with less snags. Fast and shallow riffles are often overlooked by many anglers, but this is where hopper-dropper rigs shine. Make sure to dress your flies with floatant so they ride high in the swift water. Liquid style floatants such as Shimazaki and Fly-agra are great for big, bushy flies. The next time you hit the river, put that bobber away and tie on a terrestrial treat — and have some fun!
This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.