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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Dorsal view of a Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen appears to be of the same species as this one collected in the same spot two months earlier. The identification of both is tentative. This one suffered some physical damage before being photographed, too, so the colors aren't totally natural. I was mostly photographing it to test out some new camera setting idea, which worked really well for a couple of closeups.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Keystoner's profile picture
Eugene, OR - formerly Eastern PA

Posts: 145
Keystoner on Sep 3, 2010September 3rd, 2010, 10:39 am EDT
Recently, a local fly shop owner said to me and I quote, "grasshoppers don't work on these wild trout. you have to use a tippet that's too big, and you'll spook 'em." So I'm wondering, what size tippet should I be using with any given dry fly, specifically grasshoppers??? And second, why would one HAVE to use a tippet that's too big???
"Out into the cool of the evening, strolls the Pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams, begin and end there." -JB
Aaron7_8's profile picture
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Aaron7_8 on Sep 3, 2010September 3rd, 2010, 3:43 pm EDT
I use 3x on the streams I fish (smallish freestones). I however do not know if I a an accomplished enough fisher to know the difference, however, it is the dry fly that works the best for me bar none.
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Sep 3, 2010September 3rd, 2010, 6:14 pm EDT
There are certainly some situations where a large fly plopping on the water can spook fish, Matt, and others where they'll nail the fly immediately. But I doubt that tippet size is the most significant factor in whether they spook or not. More often than not, fish react to the tippet's influence on the delivery and drift of the fly rather than its thickness/visibility.

The "rule of three" (divide fly size by three to find approximate tippet size) is often suggested, but I generally use 4X for dry flies #6-12, 5X for #12-18, 6X for 18-22, and 7X for #22-26. That said, there are plenty of exceptions that depend on the relative bulk or air resistance of the fly, the type of presentation desired, and the size of the fish. Sometimes I'll use 5X for hoppers as large as #8-10, and other times (especially when large fish are taking them violently) I'll use 2X or 3X for hoppers that large or larger.

There are times when a good hopper will be the only dry fly you need and other times when the fish won't give it a second look. This often has something to do with how many real (or fake) hoppers the fish are seeing or how receptive they are to a hopper-style presentation. The real bugs usually don't make a graceful entry onto the water, and they often kick around and make a bit of a fuss. When fish are in a "hopper mood," they'll usually respond pretty decisively to flies that do the same thing.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Sep 4, 2010September 4th, 2010, 2:21 am EDT
Shocked to see you not say anything about turning the fly over, Gonzo. I guess you hinted at it, though:

That said, there are plenty of exceptions that depend on the relative bulk or air resistance of the fly...

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Sep 4, 2010September 4th, 2010, 5:08 am EDT
Yeah, I was also including turnover in the "tippet's influence on the delivery...of the fly." (Too subtle?) Tippet length, wind, and casting "style" are also factors. Good casting mechanics allow for a range of options, but adjustments to tippet size/length or leader taper seldom compensate very well for weak mechanics. Such adjustments may improve turnover, but accuracy and control of the resulting drift begin with good casting.
CaseyP's profile picture
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Sep 4, 2010September 4th, 2010, 6:01 am EDT
dare one suggest a smaller hopper? works for me! you can also wet the tippet with spit before the cast so it doesn't float and cast such a shadow. Gonzo is right though: when the fish want a hopper, nothing seems to bother them.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Sep 4, 2010September 4th, 2010, 10:11 am EDT
you can also wet the tippet with spit before the cast


Since we are talking hoppers here and you bring up spit...

I had a great-uncle Arlie who was a wonderful teller of tall tales...He would take me to the breakwalls along Lake Michigan to fish as a young boy; Manistee and Frankfort. I actually remember going there as a pre-schooler when I was up north visiting him when my family actually lived in Norfolk VA. He ran a very large fruit orchard near Bear Lake that was so big he had living quarters for migrant workers there.

He would tell me that what really helped when you were trying to catch perch there was to spit some chewing tobacco on your hook. Being that I was rather young and we went home with a bucket full of fish I came to believe what he had said.

When I was in the first grade my grandparents came to VA to visit us and my dad, grandpa, and I rented a small boat and fished some back-bays on Chesapeake Bay. At some point I told this story to them about what uncle Arlie had said and my dad had some chewing tobacco and began to spit it in to the water on his side of the boat...Well I caught the most fish that day and I explained it by saying that the tobacco juice had floated under the boat and over on to my side. When we got home my aunt gave me a quarter for catching the most fish.

Fast forward from the early 60's to the mid-80's and I was up north with my new bride and I took her out on the breakwall to the lighthouse at Frankfort to watch the sun set. There was a guy out there fishing by the lighthouse and he had caught a smallish steelhead and when I asked him how it was going he replied very slow...

When I told him that I had visited this same place in about 1959 and my uncle had told me about the chewing tobacco he just laughed...There was a real long pause and he finally turned to me and said, "You wouldn't happen to have any? Would ya?"

Any one of us who have ever picked up a grasshopper may have had it spit at him or her...Well to make the bug a little more authentic I suggest adding a little tobac to that spit you mentioned above...You know, just to hedge the bet a bit.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Sep 4, 2010September 4th, 2010, 3:28 pm EDT
I'm not sure what the fly shop owner meant when he said "you have to use too heavy of tippet". I have used as small as 6x tippett while hopper fishing. You'll lose some fish that way, but there is no reason you can't use light tippets with hoppers.Whether such light tippets are actually necessary when fishing something like a #8 Hopper is a different story, and I don't know the answer.

I'm not sure about this gentleman's stream but the wild trout on the streams I fish tend to go crazy during hopper season.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Posts: 2
Janet986w on Sep 14, 2010September 14th, 2010, 9:25 pm EDT
Hi, I am a new member of forum spammer. Would a newcomer spammer be warmly welcome here? Good day you guys!!!

(off-topic spam link deleted)
I was a spammer. Now I'm banned.

Posts: 24
MT319 on Sep 15, 2010September 15th, 2010, 1:04 pm EDT
What's up Janet...is that "986" in your username shorthand for month and birth year?
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Sep 15, 2010September 15th, 2010, 1:55 pm EDT
Guys, "Janet" is an online movie scammer. I doubt that we will hear from "her" again, unless it is to try to activate the link that was not activated the first time. These are standard spam lines (the first is from the recent thread "New here!"):

Hello !
I am also a new member. Would a newcomer be warmly welcome here? Good day you guy !

Hi, I am a new member of forum. Would a newcomer be warmly welcome here? Good day you guys!!!

Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 31, 2011August 31st, 2011, 1:36 pm EDT

I'm one that has been using smaller hoppers given a lot of anglers fish hoppers along the same banks that I do. I match tippet to fly size wanting to match the diameter support I need to support the hook, and bulk of the fly I am casting. But I do always try to go fly first down the bank line when fishing a hopper. I want the fish to see my hopper coming, and not the leader and the fly.
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Sep 2, 2011September 2nd, 2011, 5:43 pm EDT
My favorite hopper is the old Joe's Hopper in size 10, nails 'em in beaver ponds with grassy banks. Tippet? 3x-4x, depending on water depth and clarity, probably on the lighter side these days what with low, clear water...dang, I'm out of hoppers, need to sit down at the danged tying bench!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Sep 5, 2011September 5th, 2011, 4:49 am EDT

Several thoughts on hoppers...I greased up Muddler makes for a good hopper, and for the last several years I have been throwing a lot of "bugMyster" flies as hoppers with great success. What a floater, no foam if you don't care for foam, and lands good, and very visible

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