8/08/2011

Your Inner Grasshopper: Part 1


If we go back in time and think about when we were playing in our back yards and had our first encounter with a grasshopper it was a simpler place in time. It is so easy to forget about the simplicity of these insects when it comes to their basic anatomy. When you look at the multitude of fly patterns imitating or interpreting this insect it is vast and overwhelming to say the least. 

As a fly tyer I have scratched everything I know when it comes to tying grasshopper patterns. I decided to start with simple observations this season and keep a journal as well as an open mind. So I went on a collection rampage of juvenile grasshoppers in the months of June, July, and August. I also decided to match the uniform scale of the insects and fish them earlier than normal during the season. What I have found is neither astonishing or abnormal. In the U.S. hopper patterns are tied on hooks typically ranging from #6-12. In many cases you may as well be throwing a grenade into your favorite pool or run. Many juvenile grasshoppers come out of cornfields and meadows and enter streams and rivers like they are storming Omaha Beach. Trout love these kindergarten sized morsels.

This begs the question; why are these patterns typically tied on large hooks and look like a Bratwurst?
Maybe as fisherman we are programmed to fish these insects at the point where they have reached full maturity because its the only way we have ever interpreted the pattern from others. After all we fish mayflies from sizes ranging from #10~#24 sometimes even smaller! Why not grasshoppers too? Reinterpreting the act of fishing the grasshopper pattern is of special interest to me so I have taken the time to research tyers in Europe, South Ameria, South Africa, and even the Middle East. I have collected specimens that are a fraction of the size of the adults and tied micro versions of them. I have presented my offerings to both Rainbows and Browns in the early season. I did this to satiate my own obsession with this terrestrial insect and hopefully derail common seasonal practices that have annoyed me season after season. There are thousands of hopper patterns emulating only the adult geometry with minimal focus on the “juvys”. Are the adult patterns the result of some kind of seasonal Pavlovian response? The creative spirit is ignited when the “what if?” transpires into “what is”.
                 ~Clint Bova