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Stay Fly: It’s hopper time in Colorado’s high country

Top 4 flies that mimic grasshoppers by local angler Ray Kyle

By Ray Kyle
Stay Fly
Grasshoppers everywhere, and sometimes these hoppers land in the water and become fish food. During the heat of summer, a hopper is a popular fly pattern to catch fish.
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If you come into the fly shop and ask what is working, you will be likely to leave the shop with at least one “hopper” fly. The caddisflies are still flying around, but the trout are not as committed to them as they are in the early summer. The tiny trico flies are prevalent right now, however, they are nearly impossible to see when trying to match the hatch. If you have walked through any field, you will see and hear grasshoppers everywhere, and sometimes these hoppers land in the water. During the heat of the summer, a hopper pattern is my go-to fly. Here are my top four hoppers.

1. Chubby Chernobyl

This is one of the best flies for a hopper dropper setup because it is incredibly easy to see and lands on the water very gently. A hopper dropper set is when you place a quick sinking beaded fly below a foam hopper pattern. The hopper becomes an “edible bobber” and is a great set-up for low water or spooky water. Don’t leave home without two or three of these in your fly box.

2. Amy’s Ant

While not technically a grasshopper pattern, Amy’s Ant is an effective top water foam fly that will float all day and will crush trout. I use this fly, almost exclusively, for small creeks where trout will jump on the opportunity to take a swipe at this fly. Survey every fishy spot in the river with this fly: behind rocks, micro-seams and riffles. Grab a few of these and go explore some small local creeks.

3. Trigger Belly

As soon as these flies get stocked in the shop, they just as quickly disappear. This is my No. 1 hopper pattern when fishing from a boat on the Colorado River. Casting this fly to the bank and making a large mend right away has been a very deadly method. The yellow sighter and large tuff of white make this fly very easy to see for everyone and two layers of foam in its body help this fly float for a long time. If you are planning on float fishing the Colorado River, make sure you have a handful of these ready to go.

4. Obe-Wan Chernobyl

The Obe-Wan has quickly become one of the best floating hopper patterns due to its thick, dense foam body and long, wiggly, barred legs. This fly lays a bit lower on the water, but its bright yellow sighter on the back makes it easier to see. The Obe-Wan will float all day and can suspend a good amount to weight for a hopper dropper set. The elk hair wing gives this fly a nice level of realism. It’s always fun to try a new fly pattern and this one will not disappoint.

There are endless options for flies to use, and the hopper patterns that I listed are my own personal favorites. Every angler and guide has their go-to flies that are tried and tested, however, it can be a gamechanger when a new fly makes its way into your fly box. Hopper dropper setup is one of the most effective ways to fish from midsummer until early fall. Next week I will cover my Top 4 droppers to put behind your hopper. Get out there and throw some hoppers and be ready for some fun!

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


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