H2. The Red Hopper
GRASS HOPPER AND CRICKET FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 12 - $US each
RED MORMON CRICKETS
These red hoppers were made famous by nearly destroying the crops of the early Mormon settlers in Utah in 1848. They eat everything in their path. They are not most intelligent of creatures as they will walk right into the river as well as hopping into it to their death. The trout love them. Being up to 2 inches long they make quite a big meal. They are found in Western North America.
Trout do not care if their food rises up from the stream bottom to hatch, or if it falls in from above. Trout pay close attention to the surface and this makes terrestrials an important food source. Anglers should not neglect flies that imitate terrestrial insects. Terrestrials can make up more than 80% of a fish's diet at certain times of the year--especially in late summer and early fall. Grasshoppers survive well after the first frosts, although they are les vigorous, and hence more vulnerable. The will continue to catch fish in most places well into October. ( Terrestrial insects are any fish food that has no aquatic stage like grasshoppers, ants, crickets, beetles, leafhoppers, caterpillars, inch worms, spiders, snails) At certain time of year grasshoppers become abundant. If you are in luck, a wind will blow these wonderful fish snacks into your favorite waters. It is then a great time to be a fly fisherman. A delicate presentation is not critical then because even big selective trout (largemouth or smallmouth bass, bluegill, etc.) are looking for the tell-tale splat of this helpless terrestrial as it flops into their eating zone. Second, these are big flies and you can use short leaders that are easy to cast. Moreover, even if a hopper has been chewed on a few times, the fish don't seem to mind. Grasshoppers can swim by kicking their hind legs in unison, using the same method as they employ when jumping. This is simply mimicked by fishing the fly on the surface and retrieving it with short sharp pulls. Continue for about three feet and then let your fly drift for 20 seconds before recommencing the retrieve. This imitates the grasshopper having a rest. Hoppers generally hatch from eggs in June and July and are full grown by mid-August. The adults continue to feed until the first frost. The eggs are laid under ground in late September and October. The best hopper fishing occurs in August and early September. They like hot weather, and you will find your best hopper fishing on hot windy afternoons. The only downside with hopper patterns is that they don't work all year round but keep some in your fly box just in case. Trout move into shallower riffles downwind from riverbanks near hayfields as the day warms up, on the lookout for helpless struggling grasshoppers locust and crickets. Earlier in the day these fish will be hold up in deeper water, along seams. banks and drop offs. Once it gets warmer they return to the areas where they have feasted on these unlucky insects in the past.
Banks are the key to successfully fishing Hoppers. Most grasshoppers that find their way into the water's surface are concentrated in the foliage along the banks. Banks also provide cover and shade for fish during hot summer afternoons. Thus fish, which move to the banks for cover and shade, are putting themselves in the exact place where grasshoppers are most available. On large rivers, grasshoppers should be cast as close to the banks as possible. This is more important in streams where banks are slightly undercut and where vegetation hangs out over the water. On small streams, trout often see grasshoppers all across the water and will be willing to take an imitation in the middle of the stream. I was fishing on a small river in the French Alps last summer. There were fields either side of the river but the banks were wooded. I was surrounded by breath taking views of snow covered mountains. The sun was out and it was a perfect day. The early morning hatch had finished and takes were getting harder and harder as the fish started to hide from the midday sun. I noticed some light green grass hoppers jumping from rock to rock. Some missed and floated in the water, struggling against the current. Then there was a sudden splash. A trout had struck and successfully gained a large nourishing meal. One of these struggling creatures passed near my boot. I scooped it up from the water and put him on the bank where he could dry. This idiotic insect, with a death wish, jumped straight back into the river instead of the relative safety of the woods and fields. I observed that trout would move from their midday resting place to attack a grass hopper floating in the surface film where as they would not move for a standard mayfly pattern. Trout know that grass hoppers are a very substantial meal compared with a mayfly and therefore consider them worth the effort and energy of an attack.
FISHING MOUNTAIN LAKES
The secret to understanding Summer fishing in mountain lakes is to remember that the wind blows up hill. What is he talking about I hear you saying to yourself. What on earth has that got to do with fishing? It has everything to do with Mountain Fishing. Terrestrial insects like grass hoppers, beetles and ants make up 80% of the summer diet of trout and grayling in alpine mountainous environments. They are carried up the mountain by the wind and deposited in the high altitude lakes. (the biologists call them 'upslope blow-ins') Combine this with with the amount of emergent or adult forms of aquatic insect life taken in the surface film then you find that 90% of their food comes from the top. The mountain lake trout cruise and search for food on the water surface film and this is where you should be fishing.
The upslope winds occur when the high ridges receive the morning sun whilst the valleys are still in shade. The cool air of the valley bottom is sucked up to the ridges as the layers mix in an effort to equalize the air temperature. The greater the temperature disparity the stronger the winds. Bug falls are greater in the afternoon. The lake is a heat sink as it is cooler than the surrounding land and therefore creates a thermal variation and downdraft. Ants are easily plucked from the surface by the winds even by mild winds. They are often the most numerous insect dropped on the water surface because of their low weight. Production of single cell organisms are low and rooted plants are sometimes absent due to the low average temperature . Two winged diptera midge flies are the most common aquatic insects. There are no major hatches of Caddis, Damselflies or Mayflies on many of these lakes. If it has rained within the last 24 hours runoff from a rainstorm will bring drowned spiders, bees, worms and insects into the lake. A Timberwolf, black soft hackle spider or San Juan Worm will bring results fished dead drift. On windless days flying insects still blunder their way onto the water. Just leave a pan of water out for a day and you will find moths, flies and bees floating in the surface
The dry fly is designed to float on the surface of the water. To prevent it sinking, water repellent hackles are wound around the hook to distribute the weight over the surface of the water. The hackles also simulate the legs and splash of an aquatic or terrestrial insect trapped on the water surface. Most Dry flies are deceivers designed to imitate a specific natural fly like the crane fly, ant and hooper series of flies. Other flies like the Adams and Wickham's fancy are more general designs that are just intended to produce an edible looking fly. Dry fly fishing has always been regarded as the supreme art in fly fishing circles. Accurate presentation of the fly can be essential. Trout will rise to a variety of natural flies but as far as the dry fly fisherman is concerned the mayfly hatch has to be the favored time. In almost all instances where trout feed on drowning land-bourne insects the rule is not to move the fly. An imitation is far more likely to succeed if it is cast out and then left. So long as it is cast in the right spot.
The color of the fly is always important when matching the hatch, then size is the next important decision. The artificial fly does not have to be a precise imitation of the natural insect, but what is important is how and where it is presented in relation to the depth of water. This includes the height at which the fly floats above the surface of the water. Some fish will greedily take flies that are floating in the surface but ignore flies that are floating above it and visa versa depending on the conditions that day. Use your eyes to see which natural insects the fish are taking. A high-floating dry fly will have more chance of being taken on a bright day because of its visibility, but if it does not dent the surface film on a dull day it will be less effective. A fly floating in the surface on a sunless day leaves a much more visible halo of outlining light which surrounds it.
TACTICS FOR FLY FISHING IN THE RAIN
Trout rise to the surface during rain storms. The extra disturbance on the water oxygenates the upper layers and cools the water temperature to a more pleasant fish friendly environment. They feel safer as choppy water makes them invisible to birds of prey.. The falling rain beats down flying insects and forces them onto and under the water surface. Heavy rain also washes terrestrial insects into the water from the land, overhanging trees and shrubs. Summer storms are primetime for subsurface fishing. When the all the fair-weather fishermen are hiding under trees, in fishing huts or in their cars to keep dry, you will reap the rewards of some exciting fishing if you stay out in the rain. Just cast out your fly and let the rain drown it, just like what is happening to the real insects. Do not add any floatant. It is best to cast frequently as you will cover more water and I have found that the fly is normally taken just after it has broken the water surface. Fishing in heavy rain is an ideal time to try out new patterns . Trout have learned to expect a variety of different foods, not normally available to them, washed into the lake or river from various sources. They have learned to expect this yummy bounty when the skies darken and the heavy rain drops pound the water surface. Drowned Daddy Longlegs, Hoppers, Ants, Wet flies and soft hackle north country Spiders are my choice on rainy days.
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