Perfect hopper set-ups

With Steele Lewis From Colorado Angling Company


In light of Hopper Season picking up, we gave a call to one of our good friends and guide, Steele Lewis, of Colorado Angling Company, and asked him to give us the rundown of his favorite hopper fishing set-ups for different types of water. 

Steele told us that the thing he loves most about using hoppers is their versatility. He said in his home waters of Colorado he often uses hoppers as stonefly imitations in the early mornings following the previous evenings emerging Stonefly hatch. Add a Pat's Rubber Legs dropper to a Chubby Chernobyl and it’s game over. When you have tall grass and swamp water, it’s no imitation game in this scenario as hoppers are the special on the menu. When trout are keying in on small stuff, you can still use a hopper as a strike indicator, you never know, you might just fool that one over-curious fish looking for a big meal. According to Steele, the most useful part of a hopper is the visibility factor for the angler. A Chubby Chernobyl as a visual bobber can be easier to spot especially with smaller dry flies as trailers. 

While hoppers are useful year round, August/September are marked on many anglers calendars. After talking with Steele Lewis, the team at Tailwaters has come up with three setups designed for specific hopper fishing scenarios below:


Rod: Thomas & Thomas Zone 9’ 6wt

Reel: Ross Animas

Line: Rio Grand 6F

A great mid-price point rod/reel option for double hopper rigs on big water. The 6wt is an excellent choice for novice casters or those who like a little more backbone casting bigger bugs in heavy winds.

Another great mid price point option would be the Sage Sonic or the Scott Wave in a 6wt.


Rod: Scott Centric 9’ 5wt

Reel: Abel Vaya

Line: Scientific Anglers Infinity 5F

“A Scott is a Scott, they sell themselves.” For those that are looking for a lifetime trout rod, look no further than the Scott Centric. The perfect combination of fast with feel. Add the Abel spooled with SA’s premium line and you’ve got a setup that you’ll be passing down to your grandkids.

R.L. Winston is another top of the line rod manufacturer that we carry here at Tailwaters. If you like Scott rods, this is another rod with a similar action that anglers desire in a trout rod.


Rod: Sage Foundation 9’ 5wt

Reel: Lamson Liquid 

Line: Rio Gold 5F

For the angler that would rather spend money fishing than on gear, the Sage Foundation is a phenomenal setup that would be perfect for hopper/dropper rigs on small to medium sized rivers and creeks. When paired with a Rio Gold floating 5wt line, this setup allows the angler a little more delicate presentation when fishing skinner or still waters. We recommend in a 5wt setup putting more money in the rod than the reel. 

If just getting into the sport, look no further than the Redington Trout Field Kit. The perfect 5wt setup for the beginner angler plus we offer a FREE Fly Fishing 101 instructional course with the purchase of this kit.