Discovering Fly Fishing
Madam X Hopper Pattern
By: Jason Akl
When it comes to filling my fly box for the upcoming summers fishing trips
there is one principle I always adhere to. And that is the simple fact
that one cannot have to many different hopper patterns. In my fly box I
carry deer hair, foam and parachute hoppers in every color from dark brown
to yellow. You really never know what might be the lucky pattern and color
on any specific day so I find it best to always have a vast selection with
me. When I first started out fly fishing I had a few fishing trips where I
neglected to pack hopper patterns thinking that just any old dry fly would
suffice, and what I saw in those few days changed my life forever. I never
believed that such cautious creatures like trout would throw danger to the
wind and relentlessly go after grasshoppers that were unlucky enough to be
blown into the water. I watched as these lunker trout aggressively rose
and took hoppers four to five feet in-front of me in two to three feet of
water with absolutely no cover around for them to hide in. Unfortunately
on those trips I would never get even with those fish, due to my
shortcomings in packing my fly box. However, I swore to myself that it
would never happen again.
The Madam X hopper pattern is a truly unique pattern that was invented by
Doug Swisher quite a few years ago. Swisher originally developed this fly
for fishing the Bitterroot River located in Southwestern Montana and
boasts diverse waters and excellent hatches. Overall the Madam X is a very
rounded attractor pattern. It can imitate various insect life including
hoppers, cicada, stoneflies, dragonflies and many other of the larger
sized insect that big trout love to prey on. Also the Madam x is what I
consider to be one of the best exploring patterns on the market, it casts
well under all conditions, floats like a cork, is easy to see. You never
come home after a day fishing the Madam X and wonder if you missed a
strike or two because you were not able to feel the line at all times.
When trout take this fly hold on it is going to be vicious.
As far as the equipment standpoint, I like to cast this fly with a 5
weight rod and a floating fly line. The leader length can be adjusted to
suite one own needs. When fishing this fly cast ahead and diagonal or your
position. Do not just cast once and move on, I like o cast this fly in the
same spots and the reed beds a few times to give the fish a little time to
rise for the fly. Also do not be afraid to give the fly a little life. A
few timely strips will send big trout into a feeding frenzy.
1 Start this fly by securing the hook into your vice and attaching the
yellow Uni-thread to the hook shank.
2 Clip a small portion of the natural colored deer hair and place it
into your hair stacker. With a few light taps of the stacker the ends of
the deer hair should now be aligned and ready to be tied in. Measure the
deer hair so that when it is tied in it should be extending off of the end
of the hook shank about the same distance and as the hook gape. Another
point to remember is that when you tie in the deer hair for the tail that
the hair does not spin completely around the hook. The tail should be
sitting on top of the hook shank. Wrap the rest of the deer hair with
thread till you reach the ¼ mark on the hook shank.
3 Select a slightly larger clump of natural deer hair than used for
the tail and place it in the hair stacker. Even the tips with a few taps
on the table and now remove the hair and measure it for the correct
distance of the wing. Ideally you want the wing tips to be the same
distance as the tail extends from the body. Measure the wing on the hook
shank from the hook eye all the back the distance of the tail. Once you
have the right measurement tie in the wing in the opposite direction that
would do for a normal fly. When tying in the deer hair wing make sure to
let it spin around the hook shank completely. After the deer hair is tied
down securely advance the tying thread to the back of the hook so you can
begin dubbing the body.
4 Make sure all the deer hair is wrapped down neatly to form a nice
thick underbody before you start dubbing the body. If you have a sloppy
underbody you could find deer hair sticking out from underneath the
dubbing. With very small amounts of yellow rabbit fur, pinch dub the body
of the fly. Continue dubbing the body of the fly as far forward as you
can, trying to get the dubbing as tight as possible to the back of the
hook eye. Once finished dubbing the body it should have a slight taper
towards the front of the fly.
5 With your thread clear from dubbing take one big turn of thread
backwards towards the rear of the fly. Your thread should now be
approximately one eighth to one quarter of an inch from the back of the
hook eye. With your hands or a medium sized bullet head maker pull the
deer hair that is extending over the hook eye back over the body of the
fly. It will take a little jockeying around with the hair to get it to
form a nice round bullet head. When you are satisfied with the shape and
the size of the bullet head take two wraps of thread behind the bullethead
maker to tie the head down.
6 Cut two strips of small white round elastic about two inches long.
Tie each strip onto the sides of the body of the fly flaring the elastic
strips out into an X shape.
7 Lastly cut a small bunch of orange glo bug yarn and tie it onto the
top of the fly. After the yarn is tied down, whip finish and cement the
thread in-front of the tie in point for the yarn. With your Scissors Clip
the yarn short and tease it with your bodkin till it has a nice full round
shape. Tying in the bright colored indicator is a good idea for this fly
type of fly pattern. When fishing the fly you will be presenting it to
undercut banks and overgrown river edges so any extra advantages to seeing
a take from a fish are always welcome.
Tight lines and Smooth Threads