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Souhegan Hopper
Article by Alberto Jimeno
Photographs by Peter Frailey

Although I'm not one to fish too many dry flies, when I do, hopper patterns are my favorite. They are durable, easy to see, float well, and can double-up as a strike indicator. I found the technique used for making this pattern in the Fly Tyer's Benchside Reference. First, the body of the fly is tied on a sewing needle secured in the vise. Then, this body is transferred to the hook and the fly is completed. Even though it appears to be involved, it is, in fact, quite simple.

Materials List: Souhegan Hopper

    Hook: Dry fly, standard, sizes 10-12.

    Thread: 3/0 to match body color.

    Body: 2mm thick Craft foam, cut a strip " wide and 2" long.

    Underwing: Natural deer hair.

    Wing: Turkey tail slip, as wide as the hook gap.

    Thorax: Dubbing, match body color.

    Head: 2mm thick Craft foam, cut a strip " wide and 3/4" long.

    Legs: Rubber legs, color to suit tier.

Instructions - Souhegan Hopper:

1. Mount a needle eye-first in the vise. Fold the body foam strip in half and push the foam onto the needle at the center of the fold. Mount the tying thread on the needle about 1/8" in front of the foam. Don't use too many wraps or it will be difficult to pull the body off the needle when finished. I'm using brown thread for this sequence so it shows up better in the pictures.

2. Fold the foam forwards, sandwiching the needle with the ends. Take 2-3 wraps of thread around the foam to form the first segment. Next, holding the tag ends of the foam strip back, advance the thread with open spirals to the point where you want the next segment to be.

3. Fold the foam forwards again. Take 2-3 wraps of thread around the foam to form the next segment.

4. Continue forming segments until you have the desired number. I like to use 2 segments for size 12 hooks and 3 for size 10 hooks. More segments can be added depending on the hook size or the size of the natural that is to be imitated. To tie the body off, take a few half-hitches on the last body segment. Clip the thread and push the body off the needle. For more realism, you can use a permanent marker to color the top of the body.

5. To mount the extended body on the hook, poke the hook point through the lower part of the foam body. Make sure it is centered and close to the last segment. Put the hook on the vise. Attach thread mid-shank and wrap back to the bend and then forwards to above the hook point. In this case, I'm using a size 12 hook so the extended body has 2 segments.

6. Put a drop of Crazy Glue on the thread wraps near the bend. Using the same technique as for the extended body, fold the foam forwards and form a body segment on the hook. Form a second body segment, then bind down and trim the foam tags.

7. Trim a small clump of deer hair, clean and stack it. Tie in the deer hair underwing, use soft thread wraps to keep the deer hair from flaring. Once positioned, use tighter thread wraps to secure.

8. Tie in the turkey wing. Advance the thread just shy of the hook eye. Trim the turkey wing a little longer than the deer hair underwing.

9. Tie in the foam strip to be used for the head. Spin some dubbing on the thread and wrap back to the base of the wing.

10. Pull foam back to form the head, secure it with 2-3 wraps of thread. Clip the foam tag.

11. Tie in the rubber legs, 1 on each side of the fly. In this case I used gold Sili-legs. Whip finish and clip the thread. The Souhegan River hopper is completed.

Here is a variation of this pattern that uses a deer hair bullet head as opposed to the foam head. The top of the foam body has been colored brown for a more realistic appearance. I usually omit the deer hair underwing on this pattern or substitute it for some pearl Krystal Flash.

Fishing the The Souhegan River Hopper

Fish this fly as you would any other hopper pattern, upstream, tight to the banks, your choice. Due to its durability this is one of my favorite patterns to use for catching pan fish. By changing the colors of the foam, imitations of other terrestrials can be tied. Try using black foam for a cricket or perhaps some bright green foam for a leaf hopper. ~ Alberto Jimeno

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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