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Stacked Hair Wing Hopper
Fly and Photos by John Mundinger, Helena, MT

The stacked hair wing hopper reflects some of the greatest satisfaction that I experience at the tying bench. I enjoy developing my own patterns by adapting the ideas of others. I also enjoy tying and fishing attractor dry fly patterns. The stacked hair wing hopper borrows the body and wing from the Nelson's caddis. To that, I have added a flashy tail, rubber legs, a high visibility post and parachute hackle.

I have experimented with a variety of methods for wrapping parachute hackles before adopting the method described below. Careful attention to thread position, thread tension and the initial tie in of the hackle are essential for a neatly finished, durable parachute hackle.

The stacked hair wing hopper is my pattern of choice during the hopper season on the Missouri River. I fish this pattern on a dead drift, either alone or as an indicator, in tandem with a beadhead nymph, 18 to 24 inches below the hopper.


Abdomen - Haretron, medium olive Wing - Deer hair, dyed light olive Legs - Medium rubber, Olive Post - Yellow Widow's Web Hackle - Dun grizzly Thorax - Hare's ear, dark olive
    Hook: Mustad 94840, #10.

    Thread: Thread - Danville 6/0, olive.

    Tail: Crystal Flash, red.

    Abdomen: Haretron, medium olive.

    Wing: Deer hair, dyed light olive.

    Legs: Medium rubber, Olive.

    Post: Yellow Widow's Web.

    Hackle: Dun Grizzly.

    Thorax: Hare's ear, dark olive.

Tying Instructions: Stacked Hair Wing Hopper

    1. Pinch the barb and mount the hook in the vise. Prior to attaching the thread to the hook, slide a short length of plastic soda straw over the tube of the bobbin. The straw will be used during a later step to hold the rubber legs and wing out of the way, while building the post and wrapping the hackle. Attach the thread at the 60% point of the hook. The point of attachment marks the transition between the abdomen and thorax.

    2. Dress the rear portion of the hook. Tie in the crystal flash at the bend of the hook and trim to a length slightly shorter than the length of the hook shank.

    3. Wrap the tag ends of the crystal flash and return the thread to the bend in the hook. Clean and stack one bunch of deer hair. Measure and trim the hair to length. The correct length for each bunch of hair is the distance from the bend of the hook to the end of the tail plus the butt section. Tie in the hair at the bend of the hook.

    4. Secure the hair with tight thread wraps through the hair butts. Dub the thread and wrap dubbing over the hair butts.

    5. Repeat steps #3 and #4, tying in a second bunch of hair and wrapping and dubbing over the hair butts.

    6. Repeat steps #3 and #4 again, tying in a third bunch of hair and wrapping and dubbing over the hair butts.

    7. Tie in a fourth bunch of hair and wrap over the hair butts. Dress the front portion of the hook shank and return the thread to the base of the wing. Do not dub the hair butts at this stage.

    8. Tie in rubber legs on either side of the hook shank and immediately in front of the wing. Leave the front legs long. Wrap dubbing over the tie in point and complete the abdomen with a couple of dubbing wraps immediately in front of the rubber legs.

    9. Slide the piece of straw up the thread and over the eye of the hook. Pull the rubber legs rearward and slide the piece of straw over the legs and wing.

    10. Select a strand of Widow's Web. The size of the strand should be half of the diameter of the completed post. Hold the strand parallel with the hook shank and tie in the strand immediately in front of the legs. Secure Widow's Web by alternating thread wraps in front, behind and between the two halves of the post; repeat 3 times. Pull the front and rear portions of the strand upright and together. Build a thread base by wrapping the lower portion of the post. Trim the post to a height equal to the length of the hook shank.

    11. Secure hackle to the shank, immediately in front of post, with the feather trailing off to the near side, toward the rear of the hook and shiny side up. Bind the hackle to the post with spiral wraps up the post. Take a locking wrap to secure the hackle stem at the top of the post and spiral the thread back down to the hook shank. When tied in properly, the shiny (convex) side of the feather should be flush against the post and a short length of bare stem should extend above the locking wrap. This set up will facilitate a clockwise wrap of the hackle and the hackle should wrap shiny side up.

    12. Dub the thorax. When the thorax is complete, the final wrap should leave the thread immediately behind the post. Leaving the thread in this position will make it easier to secure the hackle without trapping stray hackle barbs.

    13. Wrap the hackle beginning at the top of the wrapped portion of the post. Make several clockwise wraps of hackle, with each wrap under the preceding wrap. Clockwise wraps are important because, for a right handed tyer, the whip finish will also be accomplished with clockwise thread wraps. For this pattern, I prefer a full hackle, typically seven wraps of hackle. The final wrap is complete after the hackle has been wrapped around the front of the post, with the tag end coming of the near side of the hook. Pull the hackle tight, while securing the hackle with two clockwise thread wraps around the post. Use simultaneous tension on the thread and the hackle to ensure a tightly wrapped parachute.

    14. Whip finish on the post. Be careful to take each thread wrap under all of the hackle barbs. I make a 3-turn whip finish before trimming the tag end of the hackle. Then, make a second whip finish. With a double whip finish, it is not necessary to glue the finish knot.

    15. Slide the piece of straw off the rear of the hook. Trim the front legs to the length of the hackle.


By changing size and colors, the stacked hair wing hopper could be adapted to imitate other insects or a general attractor. With natural deer hair, an orange Haretron abdomen and a peacock thorax, the pattern imitates October caddis.

The pattern could be tied with double legs on a streamer hook to imitate larger hoppers or stoneflies.

The pattern could also be tied as a variation of a gray hackle peacock.

~ John Mundinger

About John:

John is a former employee of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, where he worked as a wildlife research biologist and in department administration. After taking an early retirement, he now is self-employed as a natural resource management consultant, specializing in collaborative problem solving. John got hooked on fly fishing at an early age but put fishing on stand-by while his children were growing up. Learning to tie flies fulfilled a childhood dream and rekindled his interest in fishing. His home water is the Missouri River. In addition to fly fishing, he also enjoys paddling a canoe. Email:

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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