Brown on a Trico Spinner #24Goals for the day:

  • Find Trico’s Hatching
  • Catch fish on Trico Pattern
  • Enjoy another day on a S.E. Minnesota Trout Stream
  • Work Hoppers Later in the Day

With the goals laid out before me I set out at 5am. Getting to the spot I wanted to fish was going to require a longer drive than normal but this provided the opportunity to find some rising fish, fish new water and see a stretch of water that I rarely get to visit. I met Joel, who became my Brother-in-Law this past Sunday at 5:30am. This outing was his last as a single man and it felt good to get him out.

Trico Mayfly

Trico (Natural) next to Trico Spinner (Imitation #24)Explaining the goals for the day to Joel was simple enough, first up, use a ridiculously small fly to tempt rising trout. Upon arrival at 6:40am the water temp was already above what I was expecting to find pushing past 60 degrees but the trout were rising steadily and we rigged a bit of 7x and a couple of #24 Trico Spinner patterns I had tied for this morning. We would have been better to arrive at 6am and no later, something to keep in mind for next time. Joel, still new to fly fishing was naturally going to have a difficult time taking a fish on a Trico pattern but tried just the same and although he walked away a few hours later empty handed he surprises me with his patience and lack of frustration even when his fly ends up in the trees/weeds more often than not. At one point he was less than 20ft from rising trout, standing in the stream up to his thighs and couldn’t quite get his leader unfurled far enough to present the fly well enough. I tried to help as best I could but he knew he just needed to practice and was content trying his best until the moment was over.

New Caddis Larva Pattern Tied by The W.F.F.I worked around Joel and managed to take a few risers, felt nice to finally get one of these fish to hand using this pattern. Although small there is something about catching these fish feeding in a frenzy on such a small imitation. Joel and I even caught creek chubs rising to eat the Trico’s. At 9:00am everything stopped almost immediately, no rising fish but still a cloud of Trico’s all around. We waited to see if the spinner fall would begin but after thirty minutes and burning daylight we pushed on to a second spot on the same stream. Unfortunately we found almost Trout Stream w/ Habitat Improvementno life other than a small Brook trout I nymphed up with a new caddisfly pattern and creek chubs. Water temp at 10:30 explained it all, pushing 66-68 degrees, I can only imagine that the trout were either concentrated in the deepest of holes or had moved downstream to colder water. At 11am Joel and I pressed on to a stream that I felt provided the best opportunity to take trout on hopper patterns. The section flowed through a cow pasture that was downstream from the source of the small creek, pouring out cold 51 degree water. Cow pastures and grasshoppers go hand in hand, combine that with the water temp being ideal for active trout at mid-day with the sun beating down and your in business. The second we got to the stream we knew we had picked the right spot.

Joel with a Brown TroutJoel and I set ourselves up with Hoppicators with trailing nymphs, I chose a Sparkle Larvae and Joel a Caddis nymph. I have walked this section of stream a few times before but had been unable to stop and fish it. I picked a run that I had previously spied a very nice sized brown hunkered down the last time I had been here. After getting used to the current and setting the right depth the Sparkle Larvae took a smaller brown and soon I was back at it. Second pass through and I felt a nice tug and soon my fly was heading deep, I tried to turn the fish but unable to do so soon enough resulted with the fish pulling me under old habitat improvement and soon I knew he had wrapped my line around something. I was forced to break my flies off and start again.

Trout Stream SourceWe worked upstream to where I wanted to relax and eat a bit of lunch before fishing our way downstream and out for the day. On the way I plopped my hopper pattern just outside of a deep run located next to habitat improvement and watched as a brightly colored brown shot like a rocket to my fly, hook set and soon it was hopper time. I took one more in a similar situation on the next run while Joel nymphed up a few downstream of me. We arrived at the source and took a water temp of 51 degrees. I managed to get a nice strike from a brookie on my hopper pattern in the hole caused by the pouring of water from the rock wall, very cool but I lost the fish before I was able to get a good look at it. We took a few pictures and smiled, this is one of the best places in Minnesota to be for sure. We worked our way downstream and out heading home at 2:30pm. All goals met for the day, very nice.

Brown Trout


August 13th, A Quick Hop

August 14, 2009

Hell Yes!Stopped by a spot I visit every so often returning from CSMP work and dropped a hopper pattern looking for a quick dance with a trout. Not much time to fish, just trying to get one or two to come up and say hi. Noon with an air temp of 82+ degrees makes for happy hoppers warmed and active. Today there was a stiff wind making for tricky casting but I’ve found that some of the best hopper fishing involves wind, hoppers tend to end up in the water after wind blows in mid-jump or flight. I planed to fish a section of pasture that was easy to access, difficult to fish and offering large rewards.

1st run really doesn’t look like much but to make that mistake would be foolish. Often the crack between the massive amount of in-stream weeds holds plenty of fish, combine that with being close to a bank containing weeds filled with hoppers and you have a good recipe for fun. With the first run I made probably eight really poor casts landing mostly in the weeds (both in-stream and on shore). Three or four more decent casts but fly line hung on weeds caused for a poor drift, finally the right cast, good float….and? Yes! Although small this was what I came for, pulling trout from the depths.

1st Spot, Tight Lane

I moved downstream and attempted to take a few more, got one strike from a decent sized fish but a poor hook-set allowed the fish to take off. If this happens I highly suggest stopping. Dry your fly. Honestly, move on in the hopes you can tempt one more on the pass on the way out. If the fish tastes hook you need to let them be, and how often do you think a grasshopper really gets blown into the stream, certainly not in the time it takes an anxious angler to make a few false casts, trust me I know, I’m that guy at times.  I moved down stream and working from a higher vantage point I let the fly splat with a nice bounce, I think it is that bounce that really gets the trout.

Trout StreamNoticing the time I sat for a moment and took photo’s of the hoppers surrounding me. Hundreds in several sizes, makes me want to work on a kind of micro hopper (I’m thinking a #14 hook standard length). I spied an orange hopper, green, grey, all kinds of hoppers.Today most of the hoppers were #12 but I carry much larger hoppers down to a #4. Find a few and tie your best imitation on and get swinging. I moved back upstream and attempted at the run I lost the  one fish, sure enough the third cast a fish came up and I lost that one too. I moved back to the first run, the place I had taken the trout from earlier. Although I didn’t get a strike here I did watch a nice brown turn all the way around to spy and deny my fly, had the drift been drag free for a second longer I think I would have had a chance at that fish as well. Honesty sucks at times.


The Hoppicator

August 2, 2009

Finished ProductA while back I got a tip from another trout hound who sent me a link for a video by a fellow named Mike Wier. This informative video shows Mike using a three fly rig including a hopper pattern set as the indicator, what makes the fly intriguing are the mono-loops tied t0 the shank prior to construction. The loop at the hook eye allows for a loop-to-loop connection between the Hopper and the leader, the mono-loop at the rear of the hook is meant for the rest of your tippet to pass through so the Hopper sits level on the water allowing the trailing nymph rig to pass behind the indicator smoothly, allowing for a higher number of accurate presentations, article here.

Liz Helping Me OutI recently received the Beavertail Body Cutters in the mail and have begun the task of creating a multi-colored mini-plague of my own hoppers, some of which I have constructed with the added mono-loops to create my own hoppicators. On a tip I roughed up the mono prior to attempting to attach it to the hook. Also, I chose to use 50 denier White GSP thread to really get the mono tight, after which I used Zap-a-Gap to hold it firm, period. I chose a 14lbs Fluorocarbon mono to make the loops strong but invisible. I tied a few up and used them recently and found the foam to float excellent, now two things will make or break the float on these flies IMO. First, taking the time to adquatly dry the fly each and everytime it gets struck or pulled under the surface, besides if you just caught a A Single Length of Mono Tied to the Shankfish off a dropper you should let the stream rest and recover before presenting to the trout again. To dry the flies quickly I use my cotton t-shirt and press firmly without damaging the fly into my shirt on both sides, dries it out without the use of floatant, everytime. The other thing that can make or break the float, and thus the presentation is the attachment of the trailing rig, wether using the mono-loop or tying directly to the hook eye with your leader the flies must fall naturally down below the fly, if you tie the leader to the fly not using the mono-loop  but to the eye and the right angle of the trailing flies does not fall straight down at the correct right angle the flies want to fight each other and turn the hopper pattern for a poorer float.

A Row of Hoppers

The cost of this little project was a bit more than usual due to the added cost of the foam body cutters but if properly used/maintained I’m confident I will be able to make a few thousand of these things over the years without issue. The foam was dirt cheap and some of the deer hair I cured myself making the hooks, flash and legs the other main cost. After spying a bit I came across the video that ultimatly led to the choice of the body cutters, this video is slick for sure, allowing almost anyone with the tools/materials to duplicate the pattern.

Underbody Tan, Green Overbody...Knowing that trout are opportunists, and that as the seasons progress, the available food source for the trout that live in our driftless streams morphs throughout the year. One of my goals has been to understand at a basic level why things work the way they do in an effort to use nature to my advantage to further my goal; of catching trout. With that said it is getting to be that wonderful time of the year when the hop-ass winged-wonders arrive in droves. The Grasshoppers.

To find the best conditions for mobile grasshoppers I chose to fish later in the day getting to the water around 4pm. I know it is still early and that as the next month and a half progresses there will be better opportunities to fish hopper patterns but I my goal was to scout out a place I believed would yield a plague. Grasshoppers are ectotherms, meaning they use external sources to regulate their body temperature, such as the sun. Knowing this and the fact that it has been much cooler recently made me choose the height of the day for the search. Hopper patterns will be best fished later in the day after the naturals have a chance to warm themselves to the minimum 101.5 degree mark, signaling activity. Note: the graph below compares different specie healthy adult body temperature.

Human Homo sapiens 98.6° F 37° C endotherm, homeotherm
Dog Canis familaris 102° F (± 1°) 39° C (± 1°) endotherm, homeotherm
Pigeon Colomba ssp. 106.6° F 41° C endotherm, homeotherm
Lizard Sceloporus spp. 87.8° – 95° F 31° – 35° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Fish (Rainbow Trout) Salmo gairdneri 53.6° – 64.4° F 12° – 18° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Rattlesnake Sistrurus miliarius barbouri 59° – 98.6° F 15° – 37° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Grasshopper Melanoplus sanguinipes 101.5° – 108° F 38.6° – 42.2° C ectotherm, poikilotherm

I rigged a F*** ****** (shhh…it will come in time) with a Sparkle Larvae hanging off the end about 18 inches and put it in the first drink I arrived at. Two casts later I was pulling in the first trout of the afternoon, a beautiful 10in S.E. Minnesota brown trout. I kept swinging and pulled a few more tiny ones out all on the Sparkle Larvae, I did get one strike with the secret weapon but the Sparkle Larvae was the clear winner today. Going on six trout nymphed from the same spot I felt kind of selfish but I was the only one around, move on? Nope.

Lucky #7

I put my flies in again hoping to bring lucky number seven to hand when I saw the take, with a #16 barbless scud hook I’ve found that if I set the hook too sharply that it pops right off but if I make the hook set a slow but immediate response the hook sticks, something to keep in mind for winter trout nymphing. Back to “Lucky”, I set the hook in the slow manner, difficult for me at times, as I brought the fish in I saw what I thought was it’s shadow elongated by the angle of the sun. It was not an elongated shadow, no this was the real deal which I became very aware of as the fish came easily in to me and promptly turned and took off. Normally a bit of a run is cool but this was awesome, ran three or four times and really pulled hard. At this point I got in the stream and landed this fish downstream before the stream turned into nothing but a riffle. Big Fish (18in)…Small Fly(#16), just a thought for any of you who like to catch “large” trout.

Brook Trout Colors

GrasshopperAfter landing number seven I proceeded to take two more making the count nine and I hadn’t even looked around for what I came for, the hoppers. I put the deadly weapons away and moved downstream but found that a bovine presence had altered the stream to a boderline unsuitable condition for fishing, however I was greeted with each step by about a dozen hoppers in their early stages bolting in every direction. Hoppers go through six stages of development beginning with a nymph and ending with a fully winged adult. I was finding several thousand around me in the first two stages and with varying color. I moved upstream and rounded out my time on the water working towards a brook trout spot I knew of that is well hidden and in the height of the summer the only thing getting back there other than me are deer. I picked up a beatutiful Brookie and kicked out to head home.

The Parachute Hopper

November 24, 2008


The Parachute Hopper: 

  •  Hook #10-12 2xLong Dry Fly
  • Thread: Brown 6/0
  • Body: 1 1/2 in Light Yellow Polypropylene Floating Yarn
  • Wings: Mottled Turkey Feather
  • Legs: Turkey Feather Fibers Tied
  • Para-Post: Yellow Polypropylene Yarn
  • Hackle: Grizzly

I’m not very pleased with this fly and so I need to work on it. I had a rough time with the body and head. I wanted to use the floating yarn, a. because it floats, b. last longer than dubbing, c. it was on hand. I had problems after I tied in the legs and wings and then should have either tied in more yarn for another wrap in front of the para-post, or kept the 1st piece longer. I am going to look for some instructions and try try again. I’ll post the progress of course, it will get better.

The Madame X

November 21, 2008

I look at a large selection of flies with recipies on a variety of websites. In the links at the bottom of this site there are a few of the ones I frequent more often. I do use instruction but for the most part I read them once and try to imitate. I don’t honestly remember how the instructions go for tying this fly but I managed to wrap my head around it and produced a few varieties of a Madame X Hopper. So here goes:

Madame X Hopper

The Madame X Hopper: 


  • Hook: #10-12 2xLong Dry Fly Hook
  • Thread: Brown 6/0
  • Tail: Dark Deer Hair
  • Body: Yellow, Pale Yellow Dubbing Mix
  • Head and Wing: Light Deer Hair
  • Legs: Red/Brown Grizzly Rubber Legs


I decided to try traditional Parachute Hopper Legs made of turkey wing fibers with the basic Madame X pattern. Since I haven’t seen a pattern like this I named it the One-Winged Soldier.


One Winged Soldier

One-Winged Soldier:

  • Hook #10-12 2xLong Dry Fly
  • Thread: 6/0 Brown
  • Tail: Dark Deer Hair
  • Body: Yellow/Pale Yellow Dubbing Mix
  • Head and Wing: Light Deer Hair
  • Legs: Turkey Feather Fibers


These are two more flies I will be adding to my late summer season box.