How To Fish A Hopper: Drift And Twitch
This blog installment comes courtesy of fishhound pro Chris "Uber" Raines.
Got the brown-trout itch? Cure it with a hopper twitch!How To
It's the end of summer here on the Pere Marquette River. For dry-fly fishermen this means throwing hoppers and other rubber-legged creatures. The river's edges are abuzz with terrestrial activity. Walking through the high summer grass demonstrates this better than anything. With every few steps, winged grasshoppers take flight from their grassy perches. Flying erratically, looking for a landing zone, oftentimes they'll accidentally hit the water's surface.
Big, hungry trout lurking near the undercut banks lie in wait for an easy snack to fall into their field of vision. These stubborn old trout aren't normally willing to leave the security and protection of their riverside lies, but if a gust of wind or an errant flight-path takes a hopper to the water's surface, watch out. In an instant these leery browns will dart to the surface and engulf said victim.
It's your duty as a trout hunter to fool Mother Nature by artificially re-creating this scene in the river over and over again. Think about it: In nature, the bug falls into the water, struggles and either flies away or gets eaten. You must emulate this with your presentation. Cast, splat the bug near the bank, dead-drift for a moment and then twitch. Much ado is given about whether to twitch or not to twitch. I believe (at least on the Pere Marquette) that you need a little of both.
The impact of the fly on the water's surface is what draws the fish's attention. The cast must be accurate and precise. Now's not the time for covering water, as many people believe. Now's the time to target specific lies. Laser-focused casting will pay greater dividends than just random casting as you go.
Once your fly hits the water, let it drift. In reality your "bug" should look stunned for a moment. Trust me, real hoppers and other terrestrial bugs rarely struggle immediately. They're literally in shock. Once your fly has drifted a couple of feet, twitch it. Subtle twitches that activate the rubber legs and make rings appear around your fly are ideal – this creates movement in your fly. Movement isn't drag. Drag isn't natural and won't trigger the same volume of strikes. Use gentle mends to achieve the desired movement and twitching motion.
After your fly has drifted out, pick it up and do it again. I see way too many people running their drifts too long. A shorter, more controlled presentation will outperform long, drag-free drifts. Again the splat, movement and placement are most important. You don't just want to have your fly drifting down the stream.
Give it a try. The fish will let you know what they want. Pay attention to these key basic techniques and your hopper fishing will become much more productive.
Chris "Uber" Raines first felt the mighty pull of Michigan's Pere Marquette River in 1987. A half-century later, he's still there and serves as head guide at the Pere Marquette River Lodge. An Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing guide, Raines is also an accomplished centerpin, bait and backplug fisherman. Send him an email at email@example.com.
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