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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
Added: Tue Sep 16 2008
Last Modified: Wed Apr 27 2011
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