The Great In-Betweener! The Hopper Popper
The Great In-Betweener – The Hopper Popper
Hopper patterns for trout and smallmouth bass are nothing new. In fact, for bass hoppers were one of the forerunners for small stream smallmouth over 50 years ago. For years fly anglers used large standard hair-type hopper patterns such as Dave’s Hopper and a host of others.They’re still quite deadly today.
Many hopper fisherman have now moved to foam patterns for hoppers and other terrestrial flies. These flies are light and float all day making them superior to the hair bugs that waterlog and sink.
There are a ton of innovative patterns in foam hoppers and many are relatively easy to tie. But nothing compares to the versatility of the Hopper Popper from Rainy’s Flies and Supplies in Logan, Utah.
Here’s a little history on the Hopper Popper from the creator: Jesse Riding of Rainy’s Flies and Supplies:
I developed it maybe 8 years ago now and it was kind of a joke at first. We offered our Pee-Wee pops and so I was playing around one afternoon while tying some variations of our popular Grand Hopper and tied on a Pee-Wee pop in place of the head on one.
It was decent looking and I called it the “Hopper Popper” right away because it rhymed. I showed Rainy and she loved it. Thought they were “Cute”. Not the best compliment for a fly in my opinion, but tied up a few others in different sizes and colors and fished them throughout the late summer that year for local trout.
They worked great. Usually, when fishing hoppers for trout. I will slap it on the water and let it go by a few times and if no fish takes then I cast in closer to the bank and start twitching it with my rod tip.
That technique usually works to bring up a fish if dead drifting does not.
With the Hopper Popper design, it just made such a bigger splash and pop and would illicit strikes better than traditional hoppers.
Soon after I tied it up in larger sizes and tried it for Bass and Panfish. Fantastic results there too. The rest is history…put it in the catalog and been pretty popular ever since.
There you go, the history right from the horses mouth.
The Hopper Popper has served us as the missing link to entice surface action when fish will not hit other traditional surface flies. There are many days when bass will simply not rise to a “popped” popper, slider, diver or other surface related fly. When faced with this situation, most anglers head south and begin dredging with streamer type patterns assuming the fish are in a neutral/negative mood.
We have repeatedly brought bass of all sizes to the surface by using Hopper patterns on just those kind of days (which happen quite often in Minnesota). The take will vary wildly, but most often a smallmouth will sip in a hopper pattern much like a trout sucking in a fly off the surface, with little fanfare. Other times, the bass will annihilate the fly.
Hoppers are especially good under grassy banks and overhanging wood and brush. These spots are where fish expect to see terrestrial critters hitting the water, particularly when it’s windy.
The characteristic that separates the Hopper Popper from other patterns is the cupped front face that operates like a small popper. Therefore one can experiment with either a dead drift or gentle pops to see what works at that specific time of day.
When we first started using Hopper Poppers several years ago, we only had access to the largest trout sized patterns tied on a size #6 hook and they worked very well. However, we were missing some fish and felt a larger pattern on a big hook would work better for smallmouth bass and other larger fish. We special ordered a large supply of Mega Hopper Poppers and now sell them on FlyBass.com as assortments.
Some days the fish go nuts on the behemoth Mega Hopper Popper and some days it seems they prefer the smaller size. These are the most durable flies I have ever used – bar none! I have no idea how Rainy’s does it, but you can abuse these flies and catch fish after fish and they hold up incredibly well. The patterns are unique and have a hi-viz foam patch on top for easy viewing.
The Hopper Poppers can also be used as a great indicator fly for a dropper rig. The Mega’s are about 2 inches long – a real meal tied on a large #2 bronze light wire hook. They’re light and easy to throw compared to other larger bodies flies and the extra hook gap makes a big difference.
Carry some Hopper Poppers with you this summer and I guarantee they’ll put fish up when all else fails!