The grasshopper fly is nothing new to the fly fishing world of flies. This terrestrial pattern has been around for decades. Sure, introducing high-density foam and floatant has helped the grasshopper fly evolve into a highly effective pattern, but its basic imitative function has been around for years.
There are a few key triggers and techniques to maters with the grasshopper fly, but they are all straightforward to do. The grasshopper fly is an advantageous pattern to tie as there is nothing more exhilarating than watching your grasshopper fly being eaten off the surface.
It’s handy to have a few grasshopper patterns of various colors and sizes. The grasshopper pattern works well on a dry dropper rig or as a single dry. The grasshopper pattern is also a great fly to use when fishing into headwinds as its weight rolls over nicely.
Tying a Grasshopper Fly
- Secure hook in the vice.
- Solid thread base.
- Cut foam ( it helps to cut a few of these, so the remaining steps go faster)
- Tie in the foam body.
- Tie in the deer hair underwing.
- Fold over the foam to form the head.
- Tie in the silicone legs.
- Tie in the collar.
- Trim legs
- Thread: Griffith Sheer 14/0, red
- Hook: #10-14 Grip, heavy nymph hook
- Body: 2mm high dense foam, cream
- Underwing: Coastal deerhair
- Collar: High visibility, dry fly dubbing.
- Legs: Bug Silicone legs, barred orange
How to tie a Grasshopper Fly Step-by-Step
Lock your hook in the vice, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it. I advocate using barbless hooks where possible to ease the removal and minimize the damage done to the fish.
Start the grasshopper fly with a good, level thread base. This is a crucial step in general fly tying but especially for this particular foam grasshopper fly.
The thread base helps the foam grip the hook shank and not slide around the hook when tying it in or fishing.
Cut a strip of 2mm foam about the width of the hook gape. This is a general sizing step to get the correct sized foam body. Light singe the tip with a flame and roll it slightly to get a tapered shape.
Tie in the foam just where the bend of the hook starts. Take care not to apply too much tension on the thread as it will cut the foam. It helps to use a flat-based thread for these types of applications. Once secure, move forward.
Aim to get three evenly divided segments to complete the segmented body.
Ending 3mm from the hook eye.
Tie in the underwing by using some deer hair. Again measure the deer hair stack by using the hook gape. Cut about a gap’s worth of deer hair and put it through a hair stacker to ensure the tips are all neatly aligned.
Apply a single tensioned wrap to secure the hair, not letting go of the tips. This will stop the hair from spinning. Apply three more wraps to tie the deer hair in place.
Trim off the excess hair tips.
Fold the front piece of the foam back over towards the rear to create the head of the foam grasshopper. Trim off the excess foam to form a neat little head.
Tie in your rubber legs on either side of the head, making sure they are evenly splayed at a 90° angle. They can be trimmed at a later stage.
Tie in the collar by spinning the dubbing and wrapping it around. Tie off and apply head cement.
The sighter dubbing is ideally what you will use to see the hopper over a distance, so brighter colors are good choices in fly tying. The red is also a great trigger for trout.
Trim the front legs by pulling them together and cutting them just in front of the head. Repeat the process for the hind legs, cutting just past the abdomen. Always leave a little extra on the legs to be trimmed on the water if need be. Once they are cut, there is no putting back.
How to fish the Grasshopper
Grasshopper flies are straightforward patterns to fish and should be in anyone’s fly box. They can be fished as a single pattern or as a dry dropper rig. The grasshopper pattern is ideal for windy conditions as it has a little more weight to it, which helps to cast.
A dead, drag-free drift is the best way to use an up or sidestream approach. The eats are usually aggressive and can really get your heart pumping.