Drowned Hopper – a Life Saver Fly

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

dh-jasonEarlier this year I invited a new friend, Jason, I made at church to join me on one of my favorite stretches. There was an ulterior motive; a beaver family resides in that stretch and kept scaring the living bajeebies out of me (not that I have any of those, or that they are living) when they slap their tails a few feet away from me in the dark. My friend is a trapper. He is also a spin caster who is at least open to the better way of fly fishing.

It was early in the season and it turned out the fish were very lethargic. I mostly guided him for the first hour or so hoping he would connect with a couple of fish. He never turned  or saw a fish with a variety of spinners and small minnow crankbaits. Eventually I sent him downstream to another hole that should have been good. While he was gone I refished the last stretch he had fished; I knew fish were probably there. Sure enough, by the time he returned fishless from the other hole, I had already landed three fish. I gave him a quick casting lesson and he landed his first fly rod caught trout in short order. We traded the fly rod back and forth for the remainder of the outing and caught several more fish. By the end of the outing it was clear he was an excellent fisherman.

Because of that first trip we compare notes every so often as he goes back to the same area to fish. Late in August, he texted me the photo of himself with a 16” brown he had caught that afternoon with his father. I quickly responded and asked what he had caught it on.

His response was short and to the point, “Grasshopper!”

I saw him at church later that week and I asked how he was able to cast the grasshopper with his spin casting rod.

He replied, “It wasn’t hard as the grasshopper is so light.”

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Fly of the Month – The Muddulator

J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Paul Shurtleff, Springville UT, You can find Paul @: www.instagram.com/insectinside/, www.facebook.com/pauliescustomflies

The idea for this pattern came from my love of 3 different classic fly patterns: The Muddler Minnow, Dave’s Hopper and the Stimulator. The Muddulator is a hybrid of all 3. It has the stimulator tail and body hackle over a substituted foam body rather than a yarn body that the Dave’s hopper has. The wing is 3 parts, much like a stimulator with a Dave’s Hopper styled turkey wing topper that keeps an air trap for the CDC under wing, which helps keeps the fly floating high, allowing the crystal flash to sparkle throughout. Then it has the Muddler minnow styled head with the deer hair collar to balance everything out.

The Muddulator is meant to be a dry fly and tied to represent hoppers and stoneflies mainly. It can easily be tied in different sizes and/or colors to better represent target “hatches” of natural insects.

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Free Substitutions

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

Ahhh, free-sub…we start out liking it, because there are thirty eight kids who want in on the kickball game but only one kickball. Free-sub gives us hope that we too can rotate in before the recess bell. Then a few years later we establish ourselves, maybe in another sport, maybe as a strong-side front line volleyball spiker…and free-sub becomes a bore, ensuring that once we rotate out we never get back in. Then we evolve further and become a fan, and the picture gets cloudy…I mean, we can accept footballers running on and off the field with abandon but it just doesn’t sit right that a baseball pitcher doesn’t have to hit…and years later still, we appreciate the free-sub concept again, when we start coaching kiddie sports and the parents are counting how many minutes their little booger-eater was in the game compared to Johnny.

Free-substitution is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. By the time we start applying it to fly tying materials, we appreciate the ability to use fluff off an old sweater when the Aussie Possum runs out–we do appreciate that. But it’s the curse side of materials substitution I want to dwell on today.

Don’t get me wrong — there are few on the planet more prone to use “found” or “similar” materials than I. I greatly enjoy the creative juice aspect, and I celebrate when my “faked” handiwork fools a fish. But over the years I have realized that the downside of free materials substitution is that people long ago were really smart. So when the pattern calls for something specific from nature, there are generally good reason, and switching something else in is often a desperate, rather than genius, move.

A few examples:

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