Johnny's DH1 (Diving Hopper)
Flies With a Story

Fly Tied By: Johnny "Hillfisher" Irvin
Story By: Johnny Irvin
Home: Round Rock, Texas

While in the Navy, Johnny was able to fish all over the world.  Now retired, he currently works as a Senior Engineering Technician in Austin, Texas to support his fishing habit.  A native Texan, he feels right at home fishing for bass and panfish. He and his wife, Marie, have two grown daughters and one grandson. 


The Fly:


Johnny's DH1 (Diving Hopper) pattern was first featured in the December 10, 2001 issue of "Fly Angler's Online" ( as the "Fly of the Week". 

 The recipe and story are included below.

Click here for the complete instructions and step-by-step photos from the Fly Angler's Online archives.

Hook: Size 4 through 16, TMC 5212
Thread: Black or olive 6/0 or 8/0
Tail: Marabou
Body: Chenille
Collar: Closed-cell foam
Legs: Round rubber


The Story:

The DH1 (Diving Hopper)

I have spent a lot of time observing the panfish and bass in the waters of Central Texas. Using top water, nymphs and streamers I have noticed different patterns the fish themselves follow. Now I do have to admit, my favorite action is top water, however I have caught many a good panfish using nymphs as well as bass on streamers.

During this last summer while fishing on the Llano, I was using hoppers, specifically the EZ Hoppers created by Peter Frailey. These hoppers were catching a lot of fish and I would go through at least five or six a day as the bream and bass would chew on them pretty good. It was during this time I was noticing that while the hopper was on the surface moving down with the current, the bream would hit it repeatedly until the hook was set or it escaped the bream to reach the end of the drift. As I was stripping it back, it was totally ignored by all fish until the currents caught the hopper in a particular fashion and it was pulled under. It was at this moment in almost each cast that the bass would take it. Most of the time it was Spotted Bass that took the hopper.

Now this got the wheels turning in my head. I departed from my tried and true drift and strip technique and began to experiment. I would cast downstream and when stripping the hopper back in I would try to get it to submerge. Just about each time I could get it submerged, the bass would do a hit and run, it was great! The rest of the day I used some sink putty from Orvis to keep the hopper down, but it limited me to using a surface fly as a sinking terrestrial. The bream pretty much would not touch it.


When I got home that night I started looking through all the books and web sites for something that could meet all techniques as well as attract both bream and bass. After a long intensive search I could not find anything that would suit my goal. So I looked at several hopper patterns along with "diver" patterns, considered the various materials available and after several trials and errors the Diving Hopper One (DH1) was born. Why the "One", itís the first fly I have created and believe to be unique. Besides, it sounds good.

The fly reacts well in moving water. The tail acts as an attractant, the chenille body provides a tougher body material that can take the repeated strikes of bass, the legs to simulate that of a terrestrial, the collar provides buoyancy and a surface plane to dive the hopper. By varying the size and angle of the collar, the hopper will react in different ways from slipping quietly below the surface up to becoming a noisy popper. Be aware that if the collar is not perpendicular to the hook, it will cause the fly to spin underwater and your tippet will only last a couple of casts before it becomes a tangled mess.

Now I can fish the drift and strip technique, surface and subsurface all on the same fly. This fly has proven itself to be a deadly combination the rivers, Llano, San Gabriel, Colorado and several local creeks including Brushy. Both panfish and bass love this fly. Yellow works best here but any combination can be applied for the various fisheries throughout the world.

--Johnny Irvin


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