The Bullet Head Hopper

It has been a while since I last wrote about this handy hopper imitation. It floats like a cork and the trout love it. Using a light color olive blend; with gray, yellow, olive color blends of yarn and a little poly, this seems to strike an interest to the waiting trout. On the pattern shown above, the hackle is a variant color saddle hackle and the hair is deer hair.

This bullet head pattern is one of my favorite hopper dry fly patterns and just a favorite for any dry fly action, on freestone streams. The entire pattern receives a light coating of lanolin cream for floating high and dry for an extended period of time. The lanolin is what the Snake River guides, based in Jackson Hole, use for keeping their clients flies on the top of the water. I brought a life time supply of this cream back with me, when I fished the Jackson Hole One Fly in 1992.

I also tie a similar pattern using spun deer hair for the head, but this one is a little faster to tie and I find that the deer hair, when cut, will water log quicker, even with floatant. However, I am compelled to keep both of these patterns is my master supply of trout flies. You can use a light wire dry fly hook for the added life of floatability. The fly always keels nicely with the hook bend always on the bottom, when the pattern hits the water, even with the lightest presentation.

This is one of the other variations of a hopper that I tie. This pattern can be tied with or without hackle. Hoppers generally sit low in the water, so hackle is not always necessary. However, fast choppy water can require the hackle, to add buoyancy to the dry fly.

It seems like everyone is going to foam these days, so fishing traditionally tied patterns may be more of a challenge to fish. The foam always floats and no maintenance required, where the hair wings might need some drying salts to dry condition them for more action. Standard household salt in an old plastic slide film canister works for me. You drop the fly into the container, put the lid on and shake a few times. Then wait a few minutes more and you have a drier dry to try. Applying a little more gink to the fly will also help. This technique is very useful, when you are down to your last hopper dry fly pattern.

When the fly comes out of the drying salts, I like to roll it a few times in the palm of my hand, to remove any remaining salt and work the salt into the fly dubbing. The salt will easily fall off the fly, when it is dry. Then you can give the fly a few good blows and also shake the fly, before you tie it back on your leader. Or, you can tie it back on your leader and do a few false casts to get rid of the fine salt. Now it will be ready for some grease to bring it back to life on the water. Always use your floatant sparingly. I like to spread the cream in my fingers, so that not a lot goes on the fly, then you can work it in good on the dry fly.

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