|.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
Grasshoppers - (Acrididae/Tettigoniidae)
Since most of the grasshopper that get into the water do so by accident, you
would certainly suspect that they sometimes fall from vegetation located along
the banks although some make the mistake of flying with no place to land but the
water. For this reason it is usually best to fish in a direction parallel to the banks
and place the fly as close to the bank as possible. This is where the trout are
more apt to be looking for hoppers and where you will probably have the best
Usually when a hopper finds itself in the water, it will make an effort to get out of
the water. They usually struggle for a short time until they either get back to the
bank or stop trying. Try catching one of the grasshoppers and tossing it into the
water. Watching the real thing will teach you what you need to imitate.
There is one thing about presenting a hopper is that unlike most flies. You don’t
have to concern yourself with making a quite presentation. When a hopper hits
the water, it usually makes a splash. So a quite presentation isn’t necessary and
in fact may not get as much attention from the trout as a splashy one.
Both the upstream and downstream cast near the bank will work. Generally
speaking, if there is much current, the upstream cast is preferred. In smoother,
calmer water of pockets along the banks and pools, the downstream approach
may be the best presentation.
In low, clear water it is best to use a long leader, at least ten foot, with 5X to 7X
tippet. I normally use a 6X under these conditions. Most likely the trout are going
to get a very good look at your imitation. Most of the time when a trout does take
your hopper imitation, it does it very aggressively. Just don't over react and
break the tippet setting the hook.
Last year, during this same week, I was able to catch a good number of trout from both
the Madison and Firehole meadow areas. The Firehole was pressured heavily and it
got a little on the tough side to catch trout. Frustrated at myself, I began to try some
things most anglers would consider me nuts for doing. I started shaking the hopper I
was using - a medium dumb sandwich type foam hopper, - as best I could. I would try
not to move it much more than the current did. In fact, I tried to place it where there was
little current but fairly deep water. The harder I shook the bait the harder the fish
attacked it, or at least it seemed that way. I managed to catch about twenty rainbows
and browns late one afternoon on the Firehole doing that when the day before I caught
only a few.
I warn you that this won't always work. I also warm you that you can't move the fly
much. You just want it to shake. It reminds me of a bass fishing technique called
"walkin-the-dog" done using a large top water plug. The guy that came up with that,
Charlie Campbell, demonstrated it to me in the early 1970s. Over the years it became
a common bass fishing term. I can't "walk a hopper" but I can shake it the right way
sometimes. I may scare as many as I get to take it. I have no sure fire way of knowing. I
just know done right, it works. Many times you will overdo it trying to hard. You just want
those rubber legs to keep moving, so it takes very little shaking. It doesn't hurt if it
jumps around a little. Just up and down, left and right flickers of the rod tip will do the
trip but this all depends on the way the line is aligned with the rod and other factors.
Try it and let me know how you do.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh