Welcome to Not Quite Entomology

Welcome to Not Quite Entomology! This is a different approach to matching the hatch, or learning which insect the fish are really eating. The flies and methods to make it all work will be here as well. We hope this series will inspire you to go out, look on top of and under rocks, check the stream-side vegetation, really investigate your favorite water and learn which are your local trout's favorite foods!


By LadyFisher

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Grasshoppers fall into the catagory of 'terrestrials' - (they also fall into the water which makes it great for fly anglers!) Terrestrials as opposed to acquatic insects which emerge and live in the aqua (water). Terra means ground or earth, so the word terrestrials are critters from or on the ground. The whole group includes ants, beetles, spiders, spittlebugs, leaf hoppers and grasshoppers.

There are two major forms of hoppers, one has a short antennae and are called short-horned (Family Acrididae) and these have been used as fish bait for centuries. Most of these are large, and remain active even with a hook through their tough body wall.

As a kid in Ludington Michigan, I watched with facination as my dad did what I called a dance around an old wool blanket he had spread next to our pond. He was a fly fisherman, but in this case, he was catching live grasshoppers on the fibers of the wool blanket. As he walked briskly around the blanket the hoppers would jump on the blanket and be hooked by the teeth on their legs.

There are a ton of grasshopper imitations, which include the Yellowbodies Grayback, Crazy Goof, Humpy, and Goofus Bug are all good floaters and are thought to be taken by fish as grasshoppers. This hopper is primarily found in the eastern, central, and southwestern areas of North America. They are secretive and occasionally dive into the water when disturbed. These hoppers are plant eaters, and are the insects also called locusts.

The second important grasshopper is called the Meadow Grasshopper, (Family Tettigoniidae) and are slender forms with wings which are usually longer than the abdomen. The antennae of these are longer than the body. These are also called the meadow katydid. They swim very well, and can be found along margins of the water and on emerging vegetation. Meadow Grasshoppers are very widespread in North America. The color of these hoppers ranges from brown to bright green, the green color derived from the chlorophyll of the plants they eat.

Al Campbell photo The size of hoppers varies greatly. The short-horned run from 1/2 inch to 3 inches in length - as do the long-horned or meadow hoppers. So a wise anglers will have hoppers in more than one size.

Perhaps the best part of hoppers is fishing them. The delivery is distinct, you should hear your fly hit the water. "SPLAT" is recommended. Cast next to the bank, and if your accuracy is good, try bouncing the fly off streamside vegetation. Fish the pockets too.

For more on Grasshoppers and the flies, read Al's Hopper, Dave's Hopper, Henry's Fork Hopper and Joe's Hopper. ~ LadyFisher

Credits: Information from Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty, published by Jones and Bartlett, and Terrestrials by Harrison R. Steeves III and Ed Koch, published by Stackpole Books. Top grasshopper photo from The Art of Fly Tying by John van Vliet, published by Cowles Creative Publishing.

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