Stay Fly: Below the hopper, favorite droppers |

Stay Fly: Below the hopper, favorite droppers

By Ray Kyle
Stay Fly

Last week, I wrote about my four favorite hopper-style flies that work wonders on our local rivers and creeks. This week is all about the flies we place below the hopper, the dropper fly. Most dropper flies have a similar characteristic, they have a bead head (typically tungsten bead). The bead heads fly, a fly with a bead close to the eye of the hook, gets down to the zone that the fish are holding in with the weight of that bead. Tungsten beads weigh heavier than brass or other types of beads and this helps to get the flies to the fish faster, making for better opportunities to catch. Here is the shortlist of my five favorite dropper flies:

Zebra midge

The zebra midge is a classic, simple fly that works on a wide range of fishing situations. This fly is a great go-to for almost any time of year. Small midge flies are present in the rivers throughout all of the seasons, including the winter. If you are struggling on a river, the zebra midge is an option that often gets overlooked. Also, if you are interested in starting to tie flies the zebra midge is a perfect first fly to try to replicate.

Poison tung midge

The poison tung midge was created due to the fact that trout love the color blue. Add in a tungsten bead at the head of the fly and you have a deadly effective dropper. The grey around the collar of the fly helps give the look of an emerging midge. This is an awesome fly for late fall, winter and early spring fishing.

Rainbow warrior

This fly pattern’s shiny tungsten bead head, pearl body and red hot spot makes it hard for trout to resist. The rainbow warrior is a top choice pattern for the Eagle River under a hopper pattern or a strike indicator. The tungsten bead gets this fly into the zone quickly, while the flashy look of the fly gets the trout’s attention. This is a great fly throughout the year on most of the local streams and rivers. Definitely do not leave home without a few of these.


The frenchie is a modern twist on the classic pheasant tail nymph pattern. The fly is tied on a jig hook which forces the fly to ride hook point up and makes for effective hook up on the fish. Tied with natural pheasant tail fibers for the body and tail of the fly and a hotspot behind the tungsten bead, the frenchie is an easy fly to tie and a deadly pattern to use on any water in Colorado. One of my very favorite droppers for a hopper dropper setup.

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Perdigon nymph

The perdigon nymph is perfect for situations where you need a small fly to sink quickly in deep or fast water. This is the perfect dropper fly for a hopper dropper setup. Perdigons were first developed by the Spanish competitive fly-fishing team but were popularized by the French. They are simple flies that sink like a stone due to their weight and slim design and are tied in a wide range of colors and sizes. These flies, like the frenchie, are tied on jig hooks that help prevent too many snags on the bottom of the river. The perdigon are the flies that do not last long in the fly shop when they arrive.

Hopefully after reading this list, you have a good idea of some dropper flies for your next hopper dropper setup. When the river is low and the trout are becoming spooky, a hopper dropper rig is the way to go. Swing by the shop and we will get you lined up with a great selection of effective flies that are working that day.

Ray Kyle is the guide service coordinator and guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or

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