No announcement yet.

Hopper/Dropper Questions

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Hopper/Dropper Questions

    Getting ready to take a trip out west for trout... kind of curious what people prefer on hopper/dropper rigs for trout. Since its early and their won't be hoppers out, foam hoppers are out and I will be using dry flies for the lead fly. Just curious as to what people prefer for the size and style of their lead and trailing fly.

    I've expiremented with these before and unless I using a Popper or big foam bug like a hopper or Chernobyl ant as my lead, my trailing fly sinks the lead fly... makes me think either my lead is too small or my nymph is too big. My nymphs are normally tied with bead heads which I think is contributing...

    Tying up some foam backed humpies now in size 12 for this trip. Hopefully this helps. I am expecting the humpies to be more of an indicator fly on this trip, but I'd rather have a fly instead of an indicator instead of a pinch on or an airflow just in case...

    Humpy sounds perfect. I usually use an indicator (fly fishing bobber).


      Originally posted by pelican View Post
      Humpy sounds perfect. I usually use an indicator (fly fishing bobber).
      Thanks! Part of the goal here is to move away from an indicator to fishing a two fly system. I have noticed fish taking swipes at the indicator from time to time... or in other words to use a dry fly as the indicator.


        As with all fly selection it depends on when and where you'll be. If it's early and there aren't hoppers out -- don't use hoppers.

        "Dry/dropper" is the general term -- a dry fly and wet fly combo. The proper terms are dropper (actually the dry not the nymph) and point fly (the trailing fly which is not necessarily a subsurface pattern -- tandem dries can be a very effective strategy too esp if the front is used as a marker to find the smaller point fly).

        The term has been reduced to hopper/dropper in a lot of casual lingo and is often used like that even when neither fly is a hopper. Then you have people fishing actual hoppers on a hopper/dropper rig during say a BWO emergence because they've kinda got the wrong idea.

        What flies you use in your tandem rig depends on where you are when and what the fish will be eating. I'm sometimes fishing a dry/dropper combo this time of year -- typically a midge or BWO emerger with a midge pupae or #20 BHPT on the point. More likely I'll fish a tandem nymph rig -- midge pupae with a 20 BHPT on the point with a pinch of BioStrike for the marker -- with a dry fly rig in waiting in the rack for when the feed goes up top.

        A lot of the summer something like a #14 Parachute Adam trailed by a #16 BHPT is a good searching rig if you're not dialed in on specifics. Parachute patterns work well as droppers as do Wulffs. Pairing a caddis dry like an Elk Hair or an X-Caddis with a trailing caddis pupae is good pairing when the food source is heavy on some caddis or caddises.

        If you are trying to fish a #12 Quigley's Crown Jewel green drake nymph a #14 PA is not going to do it and the drake duns are a lot bigger than a 14 so that wouldn't make much sense anyway. You'd use a #12 PA -- or better yet a #12 Royal Wulff or proper drake dun pattern.

        During runoff we throw the big junk -- a #6 stonefly pattern or a Chernobyl with a big Prince or Pheasant Tail or Green Drake or stonefly nymph below is a common sort of rig. The water's cold. There may be enough big stoneflies around to get the fish looking up but most of the time they'll be sitting deep and you're fishing big junk and possibly with weight. Ditch the dry and use an indicator. Yarn indicator loaded with Gink for instance.

        I rarely fish an actual hopper/dropper sort of combo. If the fish are eating big junk off the top you really don't need the nymph. It's just making your life harder then.

        Dry/dropper rigs lead to a lot of fish foul-hooked in the belly in my experience. I won't use them with novices because they too frequently miss the rise and snag the fish in the gut with the point fly. If we're nymphing we nymph and if the fish are eating dries we fish dries. Most of my own fishing is by the same rule really. Dry/dropper rigs can be such a pain.

        Hoppers are out a lot earlier than people realize. Grasshoppers are already out around here -- small ones though -- around 5000' el.


          Your issues with keeping your dry floating are probably more about hydrodynamics (drag) than bouyancy. Tandem rigs are draggier and harder to present over longer drifts in many situations. Setting up the drift, mending, and re-floating the fly are important skills for fishing tandem rigs effectively.


            That's what I was looking for... Anytime I have tried to fish a dry and dropper the dry seems to get pulled under with in seconds... I didn't think about drag pulling it under. That's a good thought. I don't know if I have tried a parachute pattern as the dry fly yet... I might give that a go. I'm still thinking my nymphs might be too heavy in the first place... might try to tie some lighter nymphs for use in the situation. And fish the heavier ones with an indicator...


              Yep sometimes the terminal rig is so heavy the best answer is ahem Trapped Air Technology. But drag will be a factor then as well. Your dry or indicator is getting pulled from two directions -- it's effectively anchored in the current so tension on the tippet is much more likely to sink it. Then you re-float it with a big upstream mend. Cross-stream and downstream presentations are much easier drifts to manage with a dry/dropper than fishing upstream into the current.

              Sometimes you have to bite the river off in pretty small chunks. Small streams are full of drifts that are only a few feet long.


                Great info, 2x. I've used two-fly nymph rigs probably more often than a dry/hopper dropper. But when I fish the way you (ericein) are going and use a dry as an indicator, the dry is a serious floater - heavily hackled, deer/elk hair (I don't use much foam). The bottom fly is usually on the smaller side so if it's weighted, it's not enough to pull the dry under. The bottom fly is also usually a midge pupa or emerger, sometimes a small pheasant tail or a soft hackle. Those don't really have much drag at all. I don't use a lot of beads, usually weight with lead tape, wire, or with a heavier wire hook. Casting angles and mending are indeed a factor and something I wish I was better at when I fished more trout streams. Good luck and leave yourself a few options.
                Mike - LaVista, NE


                  Here is what I was going to use as the dry fly... I have about a half dozen so far. Foam Back Humpies in size 12. IMO it fits the heavily hackled, elk hair, and the Frankenstein inclusion of a foam back to hopefully give it that floating power I am looking for...

                  Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_E4097.jpg
Views:	76
Size:	41.9 KB
ID:	1228005Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_E4100.jpg
Views:	69
Size:	52.5 KB
ID:	1228006


                    Speaking of Frankenstein, what is the underbody material?
                    Mike - LaVista, NE


                      Diamond Braid Chenille. Recipe and pattern I followed is from here:


                        I like that and it even has foam. Good color and flash, I'm sure it will fish well. In Utah and Idaho, I used a dark hackled yellow or red humpy with a moose tail, an exaggerated Elk (or Moose) Hair Caddis (with CDC underwing), a Dyret was one of my favorites, and Dave's Hopper. I'll have to check out their videos when I get home. Do they have many?
                        Mike - LaVista, NE


                          Dakota Angler and Outfitter has a ton, yes. All pretty good. Right up there with In The Riffle and the other top ones. They post them all on YouTube too. Check both Dakota Angler and Outfitter, and their owner Hans Stephenson. I have seen videos posted under both.


                            Much of the answer will depend on where you're going and when exactly....a week right now can be the difference between gin clear and low, versus raging chocolate milk.

                            My main question is why bother to throw a dry dropper right now? As a search rig, I think it's going to be much less effective this time of year than nymphing. If you find a hatch situation, then you can throw a dry with a light emerger or unweighted nymph underneath. Otherwise big dries are much less effective this time of year. The hatches you may run into out west right now are probably 1) BWO in size 16-18 2) March Brown in a size 14 or in some locations a mothers day caddis will be showing up soon.

                            A month ago you could have run across some skwala's in a few places, but they are getting few and far between now.

                            I'm heading to the Henry's Fork to fish next week and I'm taking a 6 weight for streamers, a 5 weight for nymphing and a 4 weight for small dries when I run across rising fish. I would be outfitted the same no matter where I fished out west right now. Streamers and deeper nymphs are the way to go for searching and dries when you can find them.


                              I should clarify a bit where this question originated from... when I say I am heading out west, I mean western Nebraska and the Black Hills. So mostly we will be fishing small to very small waters that are gin clear. The question originated out of a conversation where a friend said he never uses indicators on these types of streams because there isn't much depth anyways and odds are that the fish will see (or at least have equal chance to see) both the dry and the dropper... so essentially his argument was that waters we will be fishing are going to be so small, why would someone bother with the indicator at all when a dry fly does essentially the same thing; and the waters we are fishing are so small, shallow, and clear that the dry could potentially attract hits too...

                              Last time I was out there at Fort Robinson, I tried this strategy with a legit hopper dropper... we were getting hits on both the hopper and nymph separately instead of switching flies each pool, it tried this to fish both patterns at once. The problem I ran into was that I could not keep my hopper floating with the dropper. And the desire is to not hump in two rods, and to minimize fly changes...

                              So it's not the pattern I am looking for, matching the hatch is not an issue here. More specifically it's the style of fly used as both the point and lead fly; aka weighted or no, beadhead or no, and what size dropper matches well with what size dry. Since I normally don't fish this set up, when I nymph I am using an indicator and brass tungsten bead nymph; which is how almost all the nymphs in my box are tied. After reading through this thread, I am guessing my troubles keeping the dry fly floating are that I am using too heavy of a nymph and not considering the difference in drag on the dry and nymph...

                              This has been a much more in depth discussion then I was expecting. Thank you to everyone for chiming in!