White River

Fishing grasshoppers with 2 droppers

Posted by John Berry on October 26th, 2012
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My love affair with fishing droppers began about twenty five years ago on my first fishing trip to Montana. The drift boat guide on the Madison River tied a small nymph to the bend of the hook of a large dry fly and we fished it along the bank. I didn’t catch anything on it (my brother and I only caught one small rainbow that day) but I was intrigued with the possibilities. On my return, I began experimenting with droppers and having quite a bit of success.

Several years ago we instituted Catch and Release sections on our trout streams here in Arkansas. A key component of the regulations was that you could only use one hook point in Catch and Release areas. This had a big impact on my fishing, as I fish almost exclusively in catch and release water. When the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission updated the regulations as a result of the Trout Management Plan a few years ago, they were altered to allow the use of droppers (the result of a compromise that also allowed the use of treble hooks). I immediately began using droppers almost all of the time, no matter where I fished. I write about fishing droppers often and always mention them in my fishing reports. They have been my most effective strategy for some time.

I recently developed a subtle change. For the past few months I have had my clients fishing grasshoppers with midge droppers and we have done well. It is a great way to fish shallow water. The other day I was fishing with Bob Long, a long time client and friend. I was rigging his line with a hopper dropper combination. A few days prior, a fellow guide mentioned that he occasionally used a San Juan worm as the dropper. We had been fishing a San Juan worm with a midge dropper under an indicator and had done well. I thought; why not use both the San Juan worm and a midge under the grasshopper? It took me a few minutes to rig it all up but we achieved success almost immediately.

The concept is pretty simple. There are a total of three flies that cover the water from top to bottom. It is like going through a Chinese buffet. There is something for everyone, a nice juicy grasshopper, a hot pink San Juan worm and a tasty midge. What trout could refuse it?

The rigging is really pretty simple. I attach a grasshopper to a leader/tippet combination that is nine feet long ending in 4X tippet. I prefer large western foam hoppers. They float well and can support the weight of the other flies. They do not require the use of floatant and are durable. I attach the San Juan worm to the bend of the hook on the grasshopper, with an improved clinch knot. Mid-way down the tippet I cut it and tie a surgeons knot. I attach a bit of weight above the knot. I want the distance from the hopper to the worm to be eighteen inches of 5X tippet. I then attach a small midge (Norfork beadhead or zebra midge) to the bend of the hook on the San Juan worm with an eighteen inch 6X tippet.

To fish this rig, you cast it upstream and let it drift downstream in a perfect drag free drift. Mend the line as necessary. The grasshopper is your strike indicator. If you see it twitch or go down, set the hook. Sometimes they take the grasshopper. There is nothing like a vicious top water strike from a big fish. The take is usually the worm or the midge. Yesterday we got takes on all three flies. The problem with fishing this technique is that with three flies you can get some pretty bad tangles. With this rig, it can take a few minutes to untangle them. The key is to cast with big loops and avoid false casting.

I have had a lot of success with this technique. Give it a try. I think you will like it.

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