Photo Credit Bryan Gregson
I have always loved fishing dries. It is one of my favorite techniques for catch fish. I guess I really just love seeing everything come together, the cast, the drift, the rise, the take and the fight. The summer months are a great time to fish dry flies representing terrestrial insects (i.e. ants, beetles, crickets, cicadas and hoppers).
As a Master’s student I learned the importance of terrestrial insects to a fishes diets. My studies focused on improving riparian areas (land surrounding streams and rivers) to restore habitat for trout populations. I found scientific studies that observed terrestrial insects make up 60% of a fish’s summer time diet. As I collected data as part of my research I found many fish that had fifty to sixty grasshoppers in their stomachs, albeit small grasshoppers.
Recently I came across an interesting article that discusses a parasitic worm that affects grasshoppers. This parasite causes the grasshopper to commit suicide by jumping into bodies of water. Hoppers are not very good swimmers and they are easily preyed upon by awaiting fish. Not all grasshopper are affected by this parasite but they are often blown into the water by the wind or happen to hop into the water to evade predators.
Photo Credit Samual Pyke
During the warm summer month’s trout inhabit cooler reaches. As you fish watch for drop-offs, large pools, undercut banks and overhanging bushes. Fish your hoppers near these types of structure. You might not see the fish but they will see your hopper. Don’t be afraid of a splashy presentation, grasshoppers are not graceful. As you drift you hopper pattern through a reach try different presentations. I usually dead drift it through a run a few times in I haven’t had a strike I give it a twitch every once in a while to imitate a kicking grasshopper. Bringing your fly to life often will catch the attention of the fish. Another good technique to try while fishing a hopper is to sink them down with some split shot.
There are many different commercial hopper fly patterns available ranging from realistic to impressionistic. Here are a few of my favorites. You will notice that most of the hopper that I like are tied with foam. The foam is very durable and buoyant. I recommend matching the color and size of those that you find near where you are fishing. If you like to tie your own flies, Rainy’s has a large selection of foams in different colors, densities and thicknesses that can be used to create your own hopper patterns.