How To Tie Whitlock Hopper
What You’ll Need
TMC 5263 size 12,10,8 & 6
Danville 3/0 or Monocord, tan or yellow
Coarse yellow deer hair or elk rump hair
Pale yellow deer hair
Speckled brown wing quill
Cock golden or ring neck pheasant, (also T-N-T hopper legs from Wapsi)
Collar & Head
Coarse yellowNatural pale yellow deer hair deer hair or elk rump hair
Manson hard nylon, match the diameter of the hook shank
Brown neck hackle stems( optional)
25 pound mason hard nylon
Dave’s flexament, zap-a-gap & tuff film fixative
As you can tell, I skipped the first couple of steps, but if you click on the images, the image will enlarge for a detailed look at the tie.
Cut a clump of elk hair and tie it in ¾ the way up the hook shank. Proportion is key when tying hopper patterns. I’m using about a pencil’s diameter worth of hair. You don’t want too much hair or the body will look too bulky, but you do need enough hair to cover the whole hook shank (around). When tying the elk hair, down cut the end you are tying in. Also, tie some on top and then shift it around the hook shank once you’ve secured it.
Tie back to create the segmentations. If you look in the picture you can count how many wraps I did to create this nice look. You want to space them evenly as you wind back. The tricky part is when you get past the bend to make the extended body. It’s not that hard, just pass the bobbin around and hold the body with the other hand. You really have to see somebody do it once…then it gets a lot easier. After you wind back, then you’ll make some thread wraps in the same area to secure it. Once the extended body is secure, cut the thread off after you add a drop of Zap-a-Gap. You will not wind back up the body.
Cut the excess hair as pictured and then attatch the thread back up to the front where you tied in the elk hair to start the body. You can also add some Flex Seal to the body to make the fly more durable.
Cut another clump of elk hair. Maybe use half of what you used for the body. This is another step that I talk about on the Dave’s hopper. This clump will be the underwing, so you want to make sure you don’t tie it in on the sides of the shank. It needs to stay on top, underneath the secondary wing you’ll tie in next. Note: Notice where the wing is in the back. It needs to be a little past to body.
I’ve already prepped the wing with Flex Seal and let it dry overnight. This is crucial if you don’t want the feather to split. Make sure you measure the wing to wrap over on each side of the hook shank. If the feather is hanging past the hair in the back, you can cut it to shape after you tie in.
You should still be tying everything in it’s respective area without going forward. Now tie in the hopper legs. Here I’m using Amherst pheasant tail to make the legs. To read more about this step go to the appropriate step on the Dave’s hopper page. Anouther great material I use is Sili Legs (speckled flake) or T-N-T hopper legs that Wapsi makes. Make sure you proportion the legs correctly. After you’re done tying everything in, you should add some Dave’s Fleximent to secure it.
Last but not least, it’s time for the bullet head. We’ll tie in the bottom hair first. This step can be somewhat of a challenge if you haven’t played much with deer hair. I think one of the hardest parts is making sure the hair (tips) don’t go past the hook bend. So measuring these can get a bit frustrating. You need to find the longer hair on the hide so you have all the same length when stacking it. If you have any short ones, you’ll regreat it at the end of the step. You also have to cut it exactly right before tying in. Tie in the butts with the tips facing out towards the eye. You should have a thread base before tying in the hair because we don’t want it to spin. Tie in the butts where the thread is barly grabbing them. You’ll make progressive turns when tying it in: tight, tighter and tightest. You’ll then reperat the same step on the top. Make sure you’re measuring the same amount of hair you cut for the top for the bottom ( I would say a pencil in diameter is a good place to start).
Repeat step 7. Notice the tips are all even. That’s important for making the collar.
Advance the thread to right behind the eye. You can either wind on top of the hair as you wind forward or you can pull the hair back to get it out of the way and wind up to the eye. I think the latter technique is more accurate to get close to the eye. Stroke the hair forward once you’re at the eye and tie it down with a few turns of thread. Make sure you add a little tension on it. Now wrap back on the hair and stop back at the thread wraps to avoid accidently tying in the wing, legs, etc.
Fold the hair back. When doing this, don’t get in a hurry to shove it back there. Try to keep the hair even as you lay it back. Stroke it back and tie it down with about five turns of thread in the same spot.
This next step is optional… you can add a piece of Hi-Vis yarn for visibility purposes. Whip finish and add some gloss coat to the thread head.