The Beavertail Hopper and Indicator

From early summer until late fall, this is prime hopper time around the rivers.  Especially during the day when rises are intermittent and nothing is hatching.  As with some of the greatest flies developed, this isn’t designed to imitate any one terrestrial, specifically, but just looks like a bug. In black, it’s a cricket; in brown and yellow, it’s a grasshopper.  In this variation, I add a little something extra making the hopper/dropper setup a little easier.  Traditionally, I like crimping the barb on all of my personal hooks but it doesn’t work well to attach tippet and a nymph to the bend because it can slip off.  I add a little loop of tippet to the shank of the hook to serve as an attachment point for my tippet to the nymph.  A tippet ring can be included on this loop, but I don’t typically include one on this fly.

If you’re not familiar with River Road Creations, they make some foam cutting tools that make quick work out of consistent foam bodies for a number of applications.  Here, I use the small “Beavertail” cutter to make a great looking hopper.


I begin my thread about an eye-length space behind the eye and trim off the tag.


I take a length of 1X nylon tippet (or you can use fluorocarbon for some extra rigidity) and double it over making the looped end towards the bend of the hook.  Secure the tippet with two loose wraps of thread directly to the shank of the hook. Holding both ends of the tippet, adjust it so there’s just a small loop that extends just beyond the bend of the hook.  Begin making tight wraps towards the rear of the hook and stop where the shank begins to bend downward.

Trim off the excess tippet at the front of the fly.  This will receive another measure of security in the finishing process.  Test fit the body of the fly on the shank by holding it on top of the hook and that will give you an idea of where you want to start with your thread.  On the photo below, you can see the recesses of where the body will be secured to the hook by thread.  Take one loose wrap and then a medium-tension, and finally a tight wrap, secure both pieces of foam.


Don’t worry about the multitude of wraps with thread as they give the body segmentation.


Next, take two segments of the rubber leg of your choice.  Make one loose wrap around the leg on the near-side and then another loose wrap for the leg on the far side.  Make two tight wraps after they are in place.


Lifting up the top piece of foam, may a lose transition of your thread across the top of the bottom piece of foam to the next recess.  I take one loose wrap of thread around just the bottom and then holding the top piece of foam, I take two more wraps.  Bringing the front segments of the legs forward I wrap them in as I did the rear.  First, loosely, and then once they are adjusted, make two tight wraps front of them.  To finish the fly before the final trim, lift up the foam head of the fly and make a couple tight wraps just behind the hook eye.  Then, whip finish four or five times and cut the thread.


Turn the fly over and using some thin superglue or head cement, apply a coat of glue the entire length of the hook shank hitting the intersections of the foam body with an extra drop.

Finally, trim the legs as you see fit.



Materials Used

Body: 2mm craft foam (gold and brown)

Thread: UTC 140 Dark Brown

Hook: Daiichi 1770 (2XL Nymph Hook) Size 10

Tippet Loop: Scientific Anglers 1X Freshwater

Legs: MFC Small Yellow/Black Rubber Legs

Misc.: River Road Creations Beavertail Foam Cutter – Small

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