Splat, Twitch, Set

Driving the dirt roads around western Montana will be proof enough that the grasshoppers are out and active. Fish have keyed in on them in a big way, and we have seen fish gulping them from sunrise to sunset, from bank to mid-river. Foam is home, wood is good, rocks rock and grassy cut banks are silly good. Keep an eye out for lookers, and when the fish turn and eat downstream you know you’re doing it right. Some quick tips for hopper fishing: size down the tippet, 4X is nice but 3X will turn over the bigger bugs and splat them like the naturals on the water. If you’re worried about spooking fish, fluorocarbon is always an option. Shortening the leader to 7.5 feet will also help tuck big bugs into tight spots. When casting, stop the rod tip abruptly and high in the front. This can help skip the fly like a rock across the surface, and get you six inches to a foot deeper into the bank under brush and banks. Though we all think of the banks as the big play when fishing terrestrials, mid-river lines are just as fishy and sometimes hold fish that will refuse everything but a big, fat hopper meal. Stick it in there, and get ready for some fun.

See how skinny that water is? See how big that brown trout is? Hoppers make the bank dwellers forget about their sneaky ways and eat the twitch. Jayme Erickson found this big fella who turned and followed a twitched hopper for six feet before it slurped it down on the dead drift. Adjust your techniques accordingly.

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