Fishing grasshoppers in late summertime is a great way and a lot of fun to fish many of Montana's rivers and streams. Area fly shops carry huge selections of hoppers in many different sizes, tied with many different materials and in various color schemes.
Hoppers made of foam have been increasingly popular over the past few years because of their durability and great floating capabilities. Newer hoppers are now made of pink, purple and other non-traditional colors. Although they do not represent the true colors in nature, the trout seem to like them just as well as traditional colors.
I like fishing hoppers, not just for the visual appeal of seeing a trout chase down a tasty meal, but because of you can use a lot stronger leaders and tippets and your chances of losing trout go way down. A 7.5'-9' leader in 2x or 3x can be used with confidence. One reason for using these stronger leaders is that bigger hoppers have a tendency to twist the line. So, using a heavier leader can help prevent this.
Hoppers come in various sizes, and during the early season they are pretty small. But as the summer progresses they grow much bigger. There are a few varieties of different grasshoppers, from winged hoppers that can fly for long periods to the common hopper that jumps from leaf to leaf.
Hoppers are great to use with a nymph as well. Foam hoppers that float high can support many nymphs or bead heads below them and act as your strike indicator. Many mornings we start with this technique, and once we start getting steady action on the hopper we will take the nymph off.
Trico mayflies are also present during our warm summer months. These size 18-22 flies are very difficult to see on the water. By dropping a small Trico pattern off your hopper 18-24" you have a better chance to have success on the Trico than by fishing it alone and straining to see this small dry on the water's surface.
During the day, when trout are looking for hoppers, I like to twitch a single hopper in slower moving water. Real grasshoppers kick around when on the surface and in slower water it can be painful to sit and watch a hopper in slow water. I like to cast it towards the bank, throw in a mend moving the fly just a bit, let it sit, then twitch your fly once, using your rod tip, let it rest and then twitch it again. Many times, when you twitch your hopper, it draws attention to your fly and fish come over and eat it. Now, don't get carried away with twitching your fly. I see many people moving it all over the water. The trout will try to eat it, but if you are constantly moving it, they will never be able catch up to it.
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