Vintage Tackle Contest: Handmade Hopper

All you trout fly guys know that very soon it will be hopper season, which finally lets us get away from tiny flies and slap down something toad trout will crush. To honor the pending occasion, this week in the vintage tackle contest we’ve got a wooden hopper fly submitted by Neil Hesterman, who found it in a box of old tackle. Though I kind of had a feeling this wasn’t a commercially made lure, Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog had some very interesting insight into the importance of hoppers in tackle evolution.


Dr. Todd says:

“Imitation hoppers have been with us for well over two hundred years; very early English tackle catalogs show that realistic depictions of the grasshopper were an early (and presumably) effective bait for trout. When the earliest rubbers became commercially available around halfway through the Victorian era, they became among the very first kinds of lures to be molded from this new wonder material and commercially available to sport fishermen. You’ve got a really wonderful wooden fly rod lure made to look like a hopper or cicada. It likely dates from the 1930s and is a sterling example of a piece of fine folk art fishing tackle. I would evaluate it at $30-$40 as it has tremendous eye appeal and excellent design. I bet it caught a lot of fish. This one is definitely not one you should take fishing!”


Excellent find, Neil. Now go find a shadow box and a den wall for that bug! Thanks for sharing, and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there’s a set of Berkley Aluminum Pliers headed your way.

If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.