This post was last updated on July 16th, 2021 at 11:37 am
Fishing in the fall with hoppers can be just as much fun as any other hatch…it also has produced massive fish for me over the years. By August and September hoppers will be buzzing around everywhere. This summer in Michigan I have seen more hoppers than I ever recall. The hot and dry weather this year has made for lots of grasshoppers!
These insects are likely as old as 250 million years and have been around as long as our favorite trout species. Even people eat grasshoppers and I’ll admit that even I have tried them. Not too bad..
Few trout can resist the large meal of a realistic looking hopper presentation. The picky trout looking for small mayflies will often throw caution to the wind to grab a huge pile of grasshopper. Bring out the big bugs and follow some of these fall hopper fishing tips.
Cricket Flies for Trout
My first suggestion is that you don’t limit your fishing to only hoppers. I strongly recommend trying some cricket patterns. If you don’t already own cricket fly patterns, you could pull out the sharpie and paint your standard hopper flies pure black. I could (and probably should) write an entire article on fishing cricket patterns, but we’ll just include a bit here about that. Crickets are one of the most under utilized flies on the planet and from here on out in this article, you can assume that I am referring to crickets and grasshoppers interchangeably.
One thing about crickets vs hoppers is their times of activity. Crickets are usually nocturnal, so they are often better in the evenings or after dark. They are also effective all day long, especially on picky trout that have seen it all. Crickets are a huge meal and their dark bodies offer plenty of silhouette for night fishing. Light stripping near the bank in slow water at night can cause cardiac arrest if you aren’t prepared.
Hopper Fishing Tactics
Fall offers clear water and typically extremely picky fish in most areas. In the Eastern/Midwest I have noticed that most anglers won’t pull out the Chernobyl ants that most people from ID, MT and Wyoming are quick to try. This can lead to some easy fish on some days. Frankly these fish just haven’t seen these things. They look a lot like hoppers and sometimes the most realistic fly pattern is not the best anyway. That Chernobyl ant with legs coming from every direction, might just be too much for your local trout to resist. After spending the last decade on Western trout waters as a guide, it is normal for me to want to reach for the foam ants, but anglers don’t usually consider them much here in MI where I currently reside.
Double damage can happen when you tie on double the flies. 2 flies of different colors can quickly lead you to the pattern the fish are looking for. If 2 flies are legal in your waters and you want to quickly hone in on the perfect pattern, tying on a couple different variations makes perfect sense. Once you know what the fish want you can then drop back to reality by fishing the better pattern solo with perfect accuracy.
I won’t go into depth here on the benefits of using a hopper dropper rig. It’s another one of those things that Western anglers use daily, but people in the Eastern US don’t try often enough. If you don’t know what this rig involves click the link above and try this more. It will quickly increase your catch.
Hoppers and crickets don’t just chill out when they are laying on the water. They hate being there and they are trying to get out of it. A light twitch can trigger strikes from fish that otherwise would not hit. Throw a grasshopper on the water and watch how they act, they rarely just dead drift. Actually a lot of the time they just sink if they don’t land properly. If you want to know more about fishing sinking hopper patterns go here. It is very, very effective. The bottom line of this section is to encourage twitching your flies, because grasshoppers an crickets kick like hell when they are on the water. The twitch needs to be super subtle and light, I’m not sure I can express that enough here. This is not a streamer twitch or strip, it is a very light rod tip shake to move the fly 1-2″.
Hopefully some of this info will lead to your fall hopper fishing success. Please subscribe to my youtube channel if you want to learn some tips in video format. Thanks and hope to see you on the water someday, Dub