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Hopper Season Tips for Success on the Madison River

Hopper Season Tips for Success on the Madison River

Terrestrial season on many western rivers is just getting going. When most think western terrestrial fishing they think Hoppers. When hoppers are in abundance they are a great food source for trout when not much else is hatching mid summer. A few tricks and you will master your Hoppertunity.

On many rivers the hopper fishing does not get going until a few things happen. First, it helps if the adjoining hay fields are cut. This will drive the local hoppers to the green lush riverbank and into the fishes backyard. Second, a nice dry late summer will also congregate hoppers along the streams. Third, nice windy days blowing across the river will aid in pushing the clumsy flying bugs into the water. If all there of these happen some of the largest fish in the river will be on the look out for large floating hoppers.

While hoppers are the main course do not forget about ants. We catch more fish on ants than any other fly in late summer. Ants are available to the fish all year and many fish will hunt them out. We like cinnamon ants in a parachute patter and size 14. Be on the look out for swarms of flying ants. On many rivers the flying ants will periodically swarm along the river bank. If you happen to hit this every fish in the river will be gorging on the unlucky ants

Dropper rigs rule the day. If your fishing a hopper especially a foam hi floating type throw a nymph dropper behind it. Everyone knows the old hopper dropper game. We like to hang a really long dropper of at least 24 inches. Remember, the tippet to the dropper nymph needs to be lighter than that to the hopper. If you get your nymph hung up you only loose one fly. We like 3X to the hopper and 4X to the dropper. If you are having trouble turning this over on your cast try this. Tie a short 6” section of 3X to the hook of the hopper. Then blood knot the 4X on that tag end. The short section of thicker stiffer tippet will help turn over the nymph. 

If you ever collected hoppers and threw them into the river you know they freak out when they hit water. The hoppers wings flare and they use those big kicker legs aggressively. To mimic this twitch your hopper every few feet of your drift. A slight twitch will move the rubber legs and make the fly look more like a natural.

Hopper season is one of our favorite times of the year. Fishing large dry flies that float well and which are attacked by the fish is fun. It beats staring at an indicator all day. 

John Way Posted by John Way

Guide, Outfitter and chief bottle washer for the Tackle Shop.  Recently developing his inter web ninja skills. 

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