How to Tie a Hopper Dropper Rig

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How to set up “The Hopper Dropper Rig” – or “The Dry Dropper Rig”

By George Revel

The Hopper Dropper Rig is easily one of my favorite and most productive rigs. This rig is my go to summertime creek and river rig. I have had great luck with hopper dropper rigs on the North Fork of the Yuba River, The Upper Sacramento River, The McCloud River, and The Truckee River.

The hopper does not always have to be a hopper just as long as it serves as both and indicator and an enticing meal. The dropper is generally a bead head nymph and size will depend on how buoyant your dry fly is.

My favorite flies for this set up are:

The Chubby Chernobyl for the dry

The Flashback Pheasant Tail for the nymph.

How to set up a hopper dropper rig:

1) Leader choice for the hopper dropper rig:

I start with a 7.5 foot 4x mono leader and loop to loop it to my fly line or butt section. I chose a shorter mono leader because it turns over the larger foam flies I like to fish with my hopper dropper rigs. Also mono leaders float.

2) Choose your dry fly/Indicator for your hopper dropper rig:

The next step is to choose and tie on your dry fly for your hopper dropper rig. You should base this on the size of dropper you want to fish. My favorite dry fly to use with a hopper dropper rig is the Chubby Chernobyl. Tie this on with a Clinch Knot.

3) Attach fluorocarbon to the bend of the dry fly for your Hopper Dropper Rig:

Tie a section of 5 or 6x fluorocarbon on the bend of you dry fly with a clinch knot. The longer you make this section the deeper your dropper fly will sink. Keep in mind the longer this section is the more difficult the hopper dropper rig will be to cast. I like to keep it around 3 feet.

4) Choose and tie on your dropper fly:

I like to use a beadhead nymph that I have confidence in. Usually I end up using a pheasant tail, a prince nymph or a copper john.

5) Put some floatant and dry shake on the dry fly of your hopper dropper rig:

How to fish your hopper dropper rig:

I like to fish this hopper dropper rig in shallow riffles. The faster moving water gives the fish less time to inspect and just react. Another great method is to fish your way up stream, cast your hopper dropper rig in front of rocks allowing the hopper and dropper rig to flow around the rock and back toward you. As your hopper dropper rig is drifting back toward you lift your rod and strip in the slack.