Joe’s Hopper is one of my favorite terrestrial/hopper patterns to tie. It is a simple and straightforward fly and even if you don’t get everything just right you can still catch fish with it. The pattern was originally tied by Art Winnie and was call the Michigan Hopper. I think he created it sometime in the 1920’s. It acquired it’s current name when Joe Brook started to using the fly and it gained in popularity. That name change occurred sometime around the 1950’s. I do not know for certain if the original, The Michigan Hopper, was tied the same as the Joe’s Hopper. but I do know the recipe for the pattern that Joe Brooks made famous. It is a nice hopper representation that ride just in the surface film and is very rugged. You definitely want to use some floatant on this fly (as you should on most terrestrial patterns that have natural materials) as it will collect fish slim, pollen, dust and dirt from the water and start to sink after awhile. If you plan on spending an afternoon or evening fishing Joe’s Hoppers make certain to take six or eight with you as you will need to change the fly every now and then for a fresh fly.
The recipe listed below if the original Joe’s Hopper recipe. It calls for yellow wool for the body. Back in the day they did not have all the synthetic materials we have today (but still used floatant). Most recipes I see these days swap the yellow wool for some sort of Acrylic, Antron or Polypropylene yarn. I used some basic Acrylic yarn I picked up at the craft store mostly because I liked the color. Even though the body is a synthetic it will still soak up water when it starts to collect dirt and slime. The original recipe also called for a brown rooster hackle for the body and the front hackle. I used some hackles from a Whiting Woolly Bugger pack that were more of a furnace color. You don’t have to be too picky with the body hackles as they will get clipped off. The bugger hackles were stiff enough for the front hackle but if you have a rooster saddle that would probably work even better. This fly was tied on a size eight hook and it can be tough to find any rooster saddle hackles (nice dry fly saddle hackles) for that big of a hook. However, if all you have is a Chinese neck or a “Bass/Saltwater” neck (which is pretty much the same as a Chinese neck) you can probably find a feather that would work. You have to watch the length of the barbs as you don’t want them too long; about 1 1/2 times the gap of the hook. You could possible even use two hackles to get the job done if needed. In the video I demonstrate an alternative to the matched Mottled Turkey Quill wing as well as show some other color variations. If you are needing to stock up on a good hopper pattern you can’t beat the Joe’s Hopper. I like sizes 6 or 8 for most of my warmwater fishing and 10 & 12 for panfish and trout. If needed, collect some hoppers on your favorite stream, take them home and try to match their color and size. – Enjoy.
|Mustad 9672 (R74), #4 – #12
|Danville 6/0, Black
|Red Hackle Barbs
|Mottled Turkey Quill
If you would like to purchase a few Joe’s Hopper flies there are a number for sale (while supplies last).
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As always, if you have any questions about this fly (or any other) you can leave a comment on Dressed Irons or any of the videos I have produced and I will help in anyway I can. Enjoy!
Remember….. It’s Fly tying….. If you’re not having fun, You’re Doin’ It Wrong.