A.K.'s Hopper

A.K.'s Hopper

This hopper hybrid is both durable and easy to tie

  • By: A. K. Best
he three classic hopper patterns include the hackle-collared Joe's Hopper, which was known as the Michigan Hopper before Joe Brooks popularized it. Ed Shenk came up with the simple Letort Hopper, and Dave Whitlock created Dave's Hopper, complete with kicker legs. Each of these patterns has an attribute that I think is very important. I like the Palmer-hackle body of the Joe's Hopper, the clean wing design of the Letort Hopper, and the trimmed spun-deerhair head of the Whitlock Hopper. I put the three together to form what I call A.K.'s Hopper. It's relatively easy to tie and extremely durable.

Attach the thread to the hook one hook-gap space behind the eye and wind to the beginning of the bend with very firm tension. Bring the thread forward to the starting point. Directly even with the thread start, and using only five turns of thread, tie in the squarely trimmed tip of the yellow body yarn. Firmly lash the yarn to the beginning of the bend and take seven very firm turns of thread.

Twist the yarn tag to form a hook-gap-length loop as a body extension and tie down with six very firm turns of thread.

Tie in the tip of a long hackle feather directly over the loop tie-down, then wind the yarn forward to the beginning tie-down to complete the body. Anchor with seven turns of very firm thread wraps. Clip off the yarn tag to create an abrupt vertical shoulder. (This last step is crucial!)

Spiral-wrap the hackle forward, tie it down on top of the shoulder and clip off the butt, being certain to maintain the abrupt vertical shoulder. Trim off all the hackle on top of the body.

Clip a hook-gap-width segment from a wild turkey secondary wing feather, fold it lengthwise. Clip off the tip to form a "V," clip off the two bottom points, place it on the hook to align the tips with the end of the body loop, and cut off the butt immediately in front of the shoulder of the body. Tie it down with only three turns of thread and apply a drop of lacquer.

Clip and stack a small bundle of hard and shiny deer hair (about 12 hairs) and tie the hair clump on immediately over the turkey wing with only four turns of thread. Apply a drop of lacquer. DO NOT CLIP OFF THE HAIR BUTTS, but fold them back. (We'll cut them off when we trim the head.) Bring the thread forward to hang immediately in front of the body.

Tie in a small bundle of hollow hair BUTTS TO THE REAR, spin and firmly pack. Tie in a second small bundle of hollow hair BUTTS TO THE REAR, spin and pack. Tie in a third small bundle of hollow hair BUTTS FORWARD! Spin and firmly pack.

Carefully trim with a razor blade, making the first cut along the bottom of the head, then each side, and finally shape the top to a slight sloping angle as shown in the photo. Trim away the hair butts from the overwing.