This fly is a collaboration between John Barr and I, as he came up with the idea for a super buoyant hopper to use as the “indicator” fly in his Hopper/Copper/Dropper rig and I came up with how to tie the dang thing. We played with several different ideas and configurations based off of my Charlie Boy Hopper pattern and finally came up with the Mother of all hoppers…the BC! These photos and directions are an excerpt from John’s book, Barr Flies and I am telling you right now, if you don’t already own this book you should call the shop right now and order it. As you all know, John is perhaps the single most innovative fly tyer of our time, and his book is a treasure trove of insight into his fly pattern development process.
Hook: TMC 5262 #4-10
Thread: 3/0 Monocord, tan
Body: 3mm Tan Foam
Binder Strip: Scrap of 3mm foam
Hopper Legs: Tan round rubber leg
Underwing: Mottled Tan Web Wing
Flash: Rootbeer Krystal Flash
Overwing: Elk Hair
Bullet Head: Natural Deer Hair
Front Legs: Tan round rubber legs
Indicator: Pink McFlylon or Float Viz
Begin by cutting a strip of foam about 4 inches long and as wide as the gap of the hook. Take this piece of foam and stretch it slightly. This will make the foam a little more pliable and slightly thinner. Also at this time, cut a thin strip of foam to use as a gluing surface on the hook shank. This strip should be about 3mm square.Pierce the strip of body foam about one inch from the end with the hook point and thread the hook through the foam, then mount the hook in the vise. Attach the thread to the hook and form a thread base from about three eye lengths back from the hook eye to the bend of the hook.
Return the thread to the three eye lengths back point and tie in the binder strip (gluing surface), along the top of the hook back to the bend. Be sure to bind this down tightly as this is what the body will be glued to. End with the thread at the bend of the hook, and yes, you have had to work around the impaled strip of foam this whole time.
Wrap the thread tightly back and forth over the foam strip to compress it down and give it some texture. This will be used as a gluing surface, so some bite is needed to adhere to.
Slide the impaled strip of foam one foam width (3mm) past the base of the binder strip at the bend of the hook and pull the front of the strip under the hook toward the hook eye. The thread should be hanging right here at the bend of the hook, just in front of the body strip.
Make a hole in the foam with your scissor tips at the point where the foam intersects with the hook eye. It helps to make the hole from both sides of the foam to ensure that it goes all the way through and doesn’t close up.
Push the hook eye through the new hole. You should now have the thread at the bend and the foam threaded onto the hook in two places, (just behind the eye and the bend).
Grasp the foam strip at the front and back and slide the whole strip back to the bend of the hook so there is about 3mm of space at the front of the hook between the eye and the foam.
Note how the 3 mm of space from the bend of the hook has now been magically moved to the front.
Now apply a thin coat of Zap-a-Gap to the entire upper surface of the foam.
Next, without delay, before the glue dries fold the foam that is protruding forward from the hook eye back over the top of the hook and press both halves together. Hold the two halves together until the glue grabs.
Once the glue has dried a bit, the two halves of the foam should look like this. Note the thread sticking out of the near side of the body at the bend of the hook.
Now, at the bend, make 3-5 turns of thread on top of each other tightly to form the start of the first segment.
Now, to work the thread forward, cross the thread diagonally across the top of the body one time then make 2-3 more turns to create the next segment. These turns should be near vertical. The crossing travel wraps should only show on the top of the body, while the bottom side will only show the even segments.
Continue forward making three segments, all evenly spaced and equal in length, and a fourth segment at the front end that is a little shorter than the other three.
Now pull the extended body portion of the foam up and with half of a double edge razor blade make a cut along the extended body portion of the foam straight back to form a diagonal body shape. Make one clean cut.
The cut ought to turn out like this.
Now trim the sides of the extended body section of the foam on each side so that the extended portion is the same width as the foam body that is tied onto the hook.
Detail of trimmed body extension.
Take 3 strands of tan rubber legs about three inches long and WITHOUT separating them, tie them in an overhand knot to form the kicker legs. Do this to another piece for the other leg. Trim off two of the three strands on one side of the knot for the lower leg section.
With the thread at the front of the first body segment tie in one leg with two or three turns of thread. Cross the thread across the top of the body back to the next segment back and bind the leg in again at that section. The knee should be even with the bend of the hook.
Catch the leg with the thread in the second segment of the body.
Now tie in the other leg on the opposite side starting from the second segment, binding the leg in place. Cross the top of the body, to the first segment and tie the leg down again at this point.
Trim the butt ends (3 strand end) off flush with the body on both sides.
Cut a piece of Web Wing about as wide as the gap of the hook and trim the end into a rounded shape. This will form the under wing. Tie in the Web Wing at the front of the first segment so the rounded end extends past the end of the body about 1/4 of the body length
Take 3 or 4 long strands of krystal flash and double them over the thread to make 8 strands and tie these in on top of the base of the under wing. These should extend just past the bend as well.
Clean and stack a clump of elk hair and measure it against the shank so it extends back to the bend of the hook. Make three light turns over the elk hair, then pull straight down on the thread to flare the butts.
Trim the butt ends of the elk hair wing, leaving a short stub like you would on an Elk Hair Caddis. This butt end will act as an anchor and prevent the hair from slipping out later. Make a thread base all the way up to the hook eye, then back again to the front of the foam body and return it once more to just behind the hook eye.
Cut and clean a large clump of deer body hair. Stack the hair and measure the clump against the shank so it is as long as the hook shank. The tips should be facing toward the front of the fly.
Cut the clump of deer hair so it is equal to one shank length long and place the butt ends of the clump above the hook right behind the hook eye. The butts should extend about a quarter inch past the thread. Make three turns of thread around this clump of deer hair. The first turn should have just enough tension to crease the hair and the subsequent two turns should lie right on top of the first turn.
Release the clump of hair from your fingertips and hold onto the hook shank with your material hand. Pull slightly back and down with the thread, spinning the hair completely around the hook shank. You can manually distribute (help it along) the hair if it is less than cooperative in the spinning process.
Work the tying thread back through the butt ends of the hair to the notch in the base of the elk hair wing.
Spread the deer hair around the shank so it radiates out from the hook eye as shown. You want a complete 360 degree collar of deer hair at the front of the hook.
Push the end of a Bic Pen tube back over the hair, forcing the hair back to the thread. You may need to rock the pen back and forth a bit to compress the hair.
Push the end of the pen all the way back to the thread. With the pen still in place against the thread, make a turn of thread around the hair where it exits the pen tube. Make a couple tight wraps here, flaring the collar.
Pull the pen tube off the front of the fly, exposing the perfect bullet head. Yours came out just like this, didn’t it?
Grasp all the deer hair in the collar as well as the wing and back legs and pinch them down against the body of the fly. Wrap a few turns of heavy lead wire around the hook to hold these parts out of the way while you tie the rest of the fly.
Cut a 2 inch long piece of round rubber leg and tie it in at the center of its length at the base of the bullet head with two turns of thread. From this point on, there are minimal thread turns required to tie each piece in, as they become cumulative. Everything is tied in in the same place, so the wraps pile up a bit. Be sparing with the thread turns! Tie in another piece of rubber leg along the far side of the head in the same manner as the first. Turn the fly in the vise so you can make sure that the legs are on the sides of the head and centered.
Brush out a heavy clump of pink McFlylon and tie it in on top of the bullet head at the base of the collar for the indicator. Clip the front end of the McFLyLon into a short stub. Don’t bother to try and cover the butts, just leave them exposed at the front. They will anchor the indicator and keep it from pulling out later.
Clip the yarn to the length of the deer hair collar. Whip finish the thread on top of the tie down area at the base of the collar. Clip the thread.
Trim the back legs so they are about two-thirds of a shank length long. Pull the deer hair on the bottom of the collar down and trim it flush against the body, exposing the foam underbody.
Use permanent markers to mottle the legs a bit. Mottling simulates movement and makes the fly buggier, and who can say it doesn’t look better with the markings?
Run a bead of head cement all the way around the thread collar.
Finished fly, bottom view.