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E-Z Hopper
By Toby Vaughan, Siloam Springs, AR

Over the past couple of years I have really began to fish local warm water creeks and rivers close to my house. When my wife and I welcomed our first child in 2003, I knew my every weekend drive to the White River would no longer be happening. Luckily for me I live in an area rich with mountain streams and nice warm water fishing.

I quickly began tying alot of warm water bugs the most popular being a deer-hair grasshopper pattern. Deer hair bugs are great flies and a joy to tie, but can be rather messy and time consuming, two things a parent with a toddler running around needs to avoid. I began looking for a quick and easy hopper imitation that would cut down time at the vise. (I am teaching several of my friends to fly fish and it kills me to have them lose a dozen deer hair hoppers in a day).

Last spring while tying at the Smallmouth Rendezvous a friend of mine handed me a foam grasshopper pattern much like the E-Z Hopper. He told me about the effectiveness of the fly and I was sold. His version had knotted legs and painted eyes along with a sparse bucktail underwing. After tying a few up like the sample I decided to make a few changes.

I found that adding a saddle hackle instead of the bucktail wing gave the fly a "buggier" look. I also omitted the knotted legs and just used round rubber for the legs. I called the fly the E-Z Hopper and began to fish it on local waters with excellent results. I do not claim to have invented this fly (I am sure this has been all been done several times before) the name just seemed to fit.

You can tie this fly in about any color you desire, but yellow with bright red or pink legs seems to be the most effective. Black with yellow legs can also be a killer. Tie a few of these up and have a blast! ~ Toby "Antron Midge" Vaughan

Materials: E-Z Hopper

    Hook: Daiichi 1720 size 10.

    Thread: Choice of color 6/0 (yellow is my personal favorite).

    Body Extension and underbody: 2mm craft foam (color to match thread).

    Body: Medium chenille (color to match foam).

    Hackle: Saddle Hackle (color to match body).

    Head: excess foam doubled over.

    Legs: 1 strand medium rubber legs on each side (color that has a sharp contrast to the body).

Tying Instructions: E-Z Hopper

    1. Cut a piece of foam about 1.5 times the length of the entire hook. Be sure to round the edge of the foam as what is in the picture, this will serve as your extended body segment.

    2. Debarb the hook (if desired) and insert into the vise. Lay a base wraps from the hook eye to directly above the barbed area. Pinch the foam in your fingers as in the picture, (the rounded edge should extend past the bend of the hook by at least a hook gap) Make about 3 to 4 semi firm wraps of thread over the foam and hook shank to secure it there.

    This is how the extended body looks tied in.

    3. Wrap the thread back up the hook shank (use moderate tension to avoid cutting the foam) to a point about 1 hook eye distance from the eye of the hook. Be sure to leave the excess foam hanging out over the eye, it will later form the head of the hopper.

    4. Wrap the thread back to the original tie-in point of the foam and tie in the body chenille. (It helps to strip away about 1/16 of an inch of the chenille to expose the core. This makes the chenille very easy to tie in and keeps from having a "bump" at the start of the body).

    5. Stroke the fibers of the saddle hackle rearward to get them at right angles for the stem. Tie the hackle in by the tip right in front of the chenille body.

    6. Hold the hackle up out of the way and wrap a tight chenille body up the hook shank to the point where the underbody stops. Make 4 to 5 wraps of thread to secure the body and clip off the excess.

    7. Palmer the hackle through chenille to the end of the body. Keep the wraps fairly close to each other to give a nice buggy look to the fly. Make 4 to 5 turns of thread over the tie off point to secure the hackle. Clip off the excess hackle. (It is a good idea to add a half hitch knot here to avoid anything coming loose).

    8. Fold the excess foam hanging over the eye of the hook back toward the hook bend. Catch the foam at the tie off point with 2 wraps of thread to keep it there. Once the head is properly positioned make 2 more wraps of thread to secure it. Clip the excess foam to where the "tag" of the head ends slightly behind the tie-off point.

    9. Fold one strand of the rubber legs material over the thread and place the fold on the near side of the hook. Make 3 to 4 wraps of thread to secure it to the side of the hook. (if the legs try to slide just slide them back into position and add a semi tight wrap of thread until they are secure). Repeat the process on the far side of the hook.

    10. Once the legs are tied in and secure you need to measure them for length. I like to gently pull (and I do mean gently or else the rubber will stretch and the legs will become too short) the legs to the end of the foam body. Clip the back legs at that point. Once that is done match the legs all up together by holding them above the fly. Clip the front legs slightly shorter than the rear legs to give the fly a "hopper" look.

    11. Pass the thread under the hook shank to the hook eye. Make a dozen or so wraps to form foundation to tie the thread off. Whip finish (be sure to keep the legs out of the way) and clip the thread. Add a drop of head cement to add durability to the fly. Clip away any stray hackle around the head area of the hopper.

Here is a side view of the finished fly. Note the nice extended body as well as the fat head, I think the produce a great silhouette of a grasshopper.


~ Toby - (Antron Midge)


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


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