Dave Whitlock Explains How to Tie His Most Famous (and Deadliest) Trout Fly, Dave’s Hopper

In the April 2010 Field & Stream, senior editor Colin Kearns interviewed Dave Whitlock, a flyfishing legend who practically invented … Continued

If the hook has a barb, bend it down. Place the hook in the vice and roughen the hook shank with a file. Coat the shank with Zap-a-Gap and then wrap thread over it. Next, I lay the nylon body foundation on the hook, looping it so it’s on the right and left side of the length of the hook shank–from the eye to the bend–and wrap that on with thread. Coat that with either Zap-a-Gap and let it set. Chris Mueller
Advance the thread to the center of the hook. Fasten the tail to the top of the hook shank so it extends about 1/3 the length of the hook shank, past the bend. Tie the polypropylene on the middle part of the hook shank back to the bend. Attach the hackle at the bend of the hook. Chris Mueller
With your fingers, make a loop in the polypropylene to create a rump for the hopper body that extends past the hook shank–about even with the tail. Tie that down at the bend of the hook, and then wrap it forward to the middle of the hook shank and tie it off. Next, palmer-wrap the saddle hackle down the hook shank over the polypropylene to create a rib effect. Tie that off and trim the hackle fibers. Lay a small bunch of the yellow deer hair on the top of the hook shank, starting in the middle, and attach it so it extends just past the tail. But don’t flare the hairs. Apply careful thread pressure to make sure it stays in a bunch. Coat the end of the hairs, where they’re tied down, with Fleximent and let it set. Chris Mueller
Next, lay the wing quill over the yellow deer hair and carefully tie it down so it doesn’t flare up. The quill should extend just past the length of the underwing. On the right and left hand side of the fly, attach the knotted hopper legs. Coat the legs over with Flexament. At this point, I usually take the fly out of the vice and let the cement set up. Then, once I get eight or 10 flies tied up to this point, I’ll put the first one back in the vice and continue with the last steps. Chris Mueller
Tie on the natural deer hair collar so that it flares out to the right, left, and top of the hopper’s midsection. Add one more small bunch of deer hair in front of it and tie the fly off with a whip finisher. Chris Mueller
With a razor blade, trim the second bunch and the front of the first bunch of deer hair into the hopper’s head. Add a couple of drops of Flexament thinner on the trimmed head to secure it to the hook shank. And then you’re finished. Chris Mueller

In the April 2010 Field & Stream, senior editor Colin Kearns interviewed Dave Whitlock, a flyfishing legend who practically invented flyfishing for bass and created some of the sport’s most popular and best fly patterns–most famously Dave’s Hopper. Here, Whitlock explains how to tie the fly that’s fooled untold numbers of trout, bass, and panfish.

Tying Materials for Dave’s Hopper:

Hook: TMC (Tiemco) 5263 (the best all-around size is No. 8 or 10)

Thread: Wapsi 140 Ultra Thread in Hopper Yellow

Body Foundation: Mason Hard Nylon (same diameter as the hook wire)

Tail: Course red deer hair

Body: Yellow polypropylene yarn

Hackle: Grizzly brown

Underwing: Natural deer hair, dyed yellow

Overwing: Speckled brown turkey secondary wing quill

Legs: Ringneck pheasant tail

Collar & Head: Natural deer hair

Cements: Zap-A-Gap and Dave’s Fleximent and Flexament Thinner