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Charlie Boy Hopper Step-by-Step:
When it comes to trout fishing, it’s hard to beat a grasshopper take on a small mountain stream.
Plop a hopper imitation along a grassy undercut bank, and fish otherwise associated with delicate rises suddenly attack with reckless abandon. It is a behavior we’re more accustomed to seeing from warmwater quarry, but one made all the more spectacular by the confines of small, coldwater streams.
In such cases, foam flies reign supreme. Easy to track and highly buoyant, these flies are often more durable than their feathered counterparts and are built to hold up to the abuse of explosive strike after explosive strike.
Today’s step-by-step, Charlie Craven’s Charlie Boy Hopper, is just such a pattern. Constructed of little more than a double layer of craft foam and elk hair wing, this fly rides low in the surface film presenting the type of hopper-esque silhouette that trout can’t resist. And while the step-by-step below may seem a little intensive, this is a fairly quick tie and one you’ll want to keep stocked in your box of terrestrials.
|Tiemco TMC 5212 (Size 4-10)||140-denier (Hopper Yellow)||2-mm Foam (Yellow/Tan/Green)|
|Round Legs (Barred; Medium)||Coastal Deer or Elk Hair||Super Glue|
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Charlie Boy Hopper Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:
(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge)
Tips and Tricks
- Match the Hatch – While this pattern can certainly function as an attractor in hopper-dropper rigs, it is at its best when matching the hatch. Take note of the size and color of your resident grasshoppers next time you’re on the water. Then tie up a batch to match. Better still, come armed with a range of Charlie Boys, and you’ll be ready for whatever your local stream throws at you.
- Substitutions – Less a tip than reminder to any novice tyers who may be reading: It’s okay to substitute materials. This hobby is expensive, especially when starting out. If you attempt to purchase the exact materials required for each new pattern, you’ll quickly go broke. Instead, consider substituting materials when possible. It is always possible “purists” among the tying ranks may frown upon it, but I can almost guarantee that the fish won’t care. In the pattern above, I’ve swapped the original deer hair wing for elk. While it may not be true to Craven’s original recipe, it provides the same added buoyancy to the fly and does not alter its profile in any discernible way.
Proof of Concept
Though originally slated for September of 2021, my wife and I finally made our way back to RMNP in August of 2022.
While the fishing was slower than I would have desired, the Charlie Boy Hopper became the star when the fish were biting. First, in a meadow stream, where brook trout were keyed in on small tan grasshoppers. Then again as I targeted eagerly feeding greenback cutthroat on a montane lake.
In the second instance, the fly performed so well that two greenbacks came to net within my first ten casts before disdainful looks from the guide across the lake prompted me to move on as his client struggled to hook a fish of his own.
Species Caught on the Charlie Boy Hopper to Date:
- Brook Trout
- Greenback Cutthroat Trout