How To Tie A GFA Hopper Like A Pro

Are you feeling bored? A few days have passed, and you’ve been longing to do something you truly love, like fishing. But what if you could enhance your fishing experience by tying your own fly? Imagine the satisfaction of crafting a fly that entices fish to strike. Well, we have the perfect solution for you: the GFA Hopper.

You will acquire the required equipment and supplies to begin your quest. With the hook secured and the thread in place, you’ll attach the vibrant peacock herl and create the foam body that gives the GFA Hopper its unique appeal.

But wait, there’s more to discover and learn about this intriguing fly pattern. So, get ready to dive into the step-by-step process and unlock the secrets of tying a GFA Hopper that will have fish eagerly biting at the chance to strike.

Read Also:

The origin of GFA Hopper

The GFA Hopper has an intriguing origin story that adds to its allure in the fly fishing community. This remarkable fly pattern was created by Walter Wiese and stood as a testament to his innovative approach to fly tying.

Walter named the fly “GFA,” which stands for “General Foam Attractor,” highlighting its ability to attract a wide range of fish species. The GFA Hopper gained popularity for its simplicity and effectiveness, allowing anglers to tie a fly that mimics terrestrial insects quickly.

Walter’s creation has since spread among fly fishing enthusiasts, becoming a go-to pattern in various locations around the world. Today, the GFA Hopper continues to pay homage to its origins while captivating anglers with its remarkable fish-catching abilities.

What Makes The GFA Hopper A Remarkable Fly Pattern?

To understand why the GFA Hopper stands out among other fly patterns, we must dissect its anatomy and unravel the elements that make it so effective. Let’s explore the remarkable features that set this fly apart.

Foam Construction: Buoyancy and Visibility

At the heart of the GFA Hopper lies its foam construction. This ingenious material choice gives the fly exceptional buoyancy, allowing it to float effortlessly on the water’s surface.

The foam body not only keeps the fly afloat but also creates a realistic profile that entices fish to strike. Moreover, the vibrant colors of the foam enhance the fly’s visibility, making it easier for anglers to track and monitor its movements.

Deer Hair Wing: Mimicking Natural Prey

This element imitates the legs and wings of grasshoppers, crickets, and other terrestrial insects. When properly tied, the deer hair wing creates a lifelike silhouette on the water, tricking fish into believing an irresistible meal has just landed. The realistic presentation of the GFA Hopper makes it a top choice for anglers seeking to fool selective and wary fish.

Versatility: Adapting to Different Situations

While it was originally meant to mimic grasshoppers, it can easily be adapted to depict many insects, like crickets, cicadas, and ants. By changing the color and size of the foam and adding specific details, anglers can customize the GFA Hopper to match the prevalent insects in their fishing area. This adaptability makes it a go-to fly for anglers facing diverse fishing conditions.

Attractor Pattern: Drawing Aggressive Strikes

The GFA Hopper belongs to the category of attractor patterns. These flies are designed to grab the attention of fish, triggering an aggressive response. The combination of vibrant foam colors, realistic profiles, and the disturbance created when the fly lands on the water entice fish to strike with ferocity.

This ability to provoke aggressive behavior in fish makes the GFA Hopper an exceptional choice for anglers seeking an exciting and action-packed fishing experience.

How Long Does It Take To Tie A GFA Hopper?

Tying a GFA Hopper is not only remarkable in terms of its effectiveness but also for its simplicity and efficiency. One of the notable advantages of this fly pattern is the relatively short amount of time it takes to tie. With a little practice and familiarity with the tying process, anglers can create a GFA Hopper in approximately 5 minutes.

The straightforward design of the GFA Hopper contributes to its quick tying time. The materials required, such as long/curved shank hooks, foam, deer hair, and thread, are easily accessible and straightforward to work with.

The tying process involves securing the hook, shaping the foam body, adding the deer hair wing, and finishing with the necessary thread wraps. The simplicity and the minimal number of steps make tying a GFA Hopper an efficient process that can be accomplished in a short amount of time.

What Are The Necessary Tools And Materials For Tying A GFA Hopper?

To tie a GFA Hopper, you will need a set of essential tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to create this remarkable fly pattern:


  • Tying Vise: A vise securely holds the hook in place while you tie the fly.
  • Bobbin: A bobbin is used to hold and control the thread while wrapping it around the hook.
  • Scissors: Sharp scissors are necessary for cutting and trimming various materials.
  • Bodkin or Dubbing Needle: This tool helps with the precise placement of materials and clearing the hook eye.
  • Whip Finish Tool: A whip finish tool is used to tie off the thread and secure the fly.


  • Hooks: Long or curved shank hooks are commonly used for tying GFA Hoppers. Sizes may vary depending on the desired imitation and target fish species.
  • Foam: Foam sheets or cylinders in various colors are used for the body of the GFA Hopper, providing buoyancy and visibility.
  • Deer Hair: This natural material is used to create the wing of the fly, mimicking the legs and wings of grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects.
  • Thread: A strong and durable thread is needed to secure the materials to the hook and create a solid foundation for the fly.
  • Optional: Markers or colored pens can be used to add additional details and enhance the realism of the fly.

How Do You Tie A GFA Hopper? Step-By-Step Tying Process:

Okay, everyone, let’s start tying a GFA Hopper step by step. This remarkable fly pattern is known for its simplicity and effectiveness, making it a go-to choice for many anglers.

Step 1: Secure the Hook

Start by mashing the barb on the hook and firmly securing it in the jaws of your tying vice.

Step 2: Start the Thread

Load a bobbin with tan UTC 140 denier thread and start your thread on the hook shank, leaving a small space behind the eye.

Step 3: Attach the Peacock Herl

Pull three or four strung peacock curls free from the rest and snip off their brittle tips. Secure the tips to the top of the hook shank and bind them down with wraps of tying thread. Go all the way back to halfway between the hook point and the barb, leaving your tying thread there.

Step 4: Wrap the Peacock Herl

Using your tying thread as a base, take wraps of peacock herl behind it. The thread will help keep the herls together as you wrap.

Peacock herl is a great choice for the underbody because it prevents the foam body from rolling around the shank and adds an iridescent touch to the fly.

Secure the herl with a few turns of tying thread just before reaching the hook, and snip the excess butt ends close.

Step 5: Create the Foam Body

For the body of the fly, use two-millimeter thick craft foam. If you have foam cutters, press down with the cutter while the foam is resting on a special mat to shape the body. Cut the foam to approximately the length of a hook gap, extending beyond the bend of the hook.

Step 6: Secure the Foam Body

Lay the foam on top of the shank, pinch it, and take thread wraps to secure it immediately behind the hook eye.

Step 7: Use Superglue for Stability

Apply a thin coat of superglue or fly tyers cement to the top of the peacock herl underbody. Pull the foam rearward and pinch it around the peacock herl.

Create three short segments on the foam using your tying thread, with the back edge of the second segment approximately in line with the hook point.

Take cross wraps over the smaller segments as you work your tying thread forward. Tie in the foam at the back end of the first larger segment.

Step 8: Add the Elk Hair Wing

Snip a small clump of bleached elk hair free from the hide, strip out any short hairs and underfur, and stack the hair in a stacker.

Measure out a wing that extends just short of the back edge of the foam body, and snip off the excess butt ends square.

With a counterclockwise spin of your bobbin, secure the elk hair by pulling it down firmly with your tying thread. Anchor the hair with a couple more wraps.

Step 9: Fold the Foam and Secure

Apply a small amount of superglue or fly tyers cement to the top of the front foam segment. While pulling the elk hair rearward, fold the foam in front of the hook eye back and pin it down. Use a few wraps of tying thread to hold it in position, and snip off the excess foam close to create a visible tab.

Step 10: Create a Hot Spot Indicator

To make the fly more visible, use a brightly colored piece of scrap foam or a narrow strip. Lay the strip on top of the fly’s foam head and bind it down with two or three turns of tying thread. Snip off the excess foam close to create a vibrant hot spot.

Step 11: Attach Rubber Legs

For the fly’s legs, use medium-sized striped round rubber legs. Snip a single segment in half to make four legs. Lay both strands against the near side of the hook and lightly secure them with two thread wraps.

Pull the top strand up and over to the other side of the foam body, creating mirror-imaged legs on each side of the fly. Anchor the legs with another thread wrap, pull them back, and relocate your tying thread behind the hook.

Step 12: Whip Finish and Final Touches

Pull the front legs rearward, complete a five or six-turn whip finish, seat the knot well, and snip or cut your tying thread.

Check the length of the rubber legs, with the front legs approximately the length of a full hook and the back legs slightly longer.

Apply a drop or two of head cement or Sally Hansen Hard-as-Nails to the wraps binding down the legs and behind the eye to increase durability.

Tips and tricks for successfully tying a GFA Hopper:

When it comes to tying a GFA Hopper successfully, there are a few tips and tricks that can elevate your tying game and improve the overall effectiveness of the fly. These insights will help you tie a GFA Hopper that looks enticing and performs well on the water.

Foam Selection

Experiment with different colors and densities of foam to match the natural insects in your fishing area. Choose foam that provides buoyancy and durability to ensure your fly floats effectively.

Proper Proportions

Pay attention to the proportions of your GFA Hopper. Ensure the foam body, wing, and head are appropriately sized and balanced. A realistic and well-proportioned fly will increase its appeal to fish.

Trim Carefully

Use sharp scissors to trim excess foam and deer hair. Trim the foam body to mimic the shape of a grasshopper or other terrestrial insect. Clean and precise trimming will give your fly a more realistic profile.

Secure Materials

Ensure all materials, such as foam and deer hair, are tightly secured to the hook. This will prevent them from coming loose during casting or when fish strike the fly.

Thread Control

Develop good thread control techniques to create neat and secure wraps. Practice consistent tension and spacing between wraps for a clean and professional-looking fly.

Add Movement

Incorporate some movement into the fly by leaving the deer hair wing slightly longer. The natural movement of the wing will imitate the fluttering motion of a grasshopper or insect on the water’s surface.

Use Markers

Experiment with markers or colored pens to add subtle details and enhance the realism of your GFA Hopper. Add markings or segmented patterns on the foam body to mimic the natural characteristics of the insects you imitate.

Practice and Experiment

Tying a GFA Hopper is an art that requires practice and experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try new variations, materials, and techniques. Explore different color combinations and modifications to match your target fish’s specific conditions and preferences.

Attention to Detail

Pay attention to the small details that can make a big difference. Ensure the thread wraps are secure and tidy, trim any loose fibers, and double-check the overall appearance of the fly before finishing.

Confidence in Presentation

Have confidence in your GFA Hopper. Present it with precision and accuracy, imitating the movements and behavior of grasshoppers or other terrestrial insects. Cast near likely holding spots and use appropriate retrieve techniques to entice fish to strike.

What Are Some Effective Ways to Fish With The GFA Hopper?

When it comes to fishing with the GFA Hopper, you can employ several effective techniques to entice fish and maximize your success on the water. Here are some tried-and-true methods:

Dry Fly Drift

The GFA Hopper is primarily a dry fly pattern, and one of the most popular ways to fish it is by utilizing a dead-drift presentation. Cast the fly upstream, allowing it to float naturally downstream with the current. Keep an eye on the fly and be ready for any subtle or aggressive takes from fish.

Terrestrial Imitation

The GFA Hopper is an excellent imitation of grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects that often find themselves in the water. During the warmer months, when these insects are abundant, fish actively feed on them. Look for grassy banks, overhanging foliage, and buildings along the water’s edge where these insects will likely fall.

Twitch and Skitter

To imitate the natural movements of a grasshopper or insect on the water’s surface, try twitching or skittering the GFA Hopper. After casting, give the fly small twitches or quick strips to create subtle movements that mimic the struggling or hopping motion of a real insect. This can trigger aggressive strikes from fish.

Sight Fishing

If the water conditions allow for it, sight fishing with the GFA Hopper can be an exhilarating experience. Look for fish actively feeding near the surface and present the fly accurately in their feeding lane. Observe their reaction and adjust your presentation accordingly.

Dropper Setup

Consider using the GFA Hopper as an indicator fly in a dropper setup. Attach a smaller nymph or emerger pattern to the hook bend of the GFA Hopper using a length of tippet material. This allows you to cover both the surface and subsurface feeding zones simultaneously, increasing your chances of enticing fish.

Vary Retrieve Speed

Experiment with different retrieve speeds to determine what entices fish on a given day. Sometimes a slow and steady retrieve is effective, while other times, a faster, erratic retrieve triggers aggressive strikes. Pay attention to fish behavior and adjust your retrieve accordingly.

Explore Different Water Types

The GFA Hopper can be fished effectively in a variety of water types. From small streams and rivers to larger bodies of water, target areas such as riffles, seams, pocket water, and along the banks. Adapt your presentation to suit the specific characteristics of the water you’re fishing.

Final Say

The GFA Hopper is a remarkable fly pattern that combines simplicity, versatility, and effectiveness. Its origin can be traced back to the innovative mind of Walter Wiese, who developed this fly as a foam attractor pattern. With a tying time of around 5 minutes and requiring basic tools and materials, it is accessible to both beginner and experienced fly tiers.

By following the step-by-step tying process and incorporating the tips and tricks, you can tie a GFA Hopper that imitates grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects, attracting the attention of fish. When fishing with the GFA Hopper, employing techniques such as dry fly drift, twitching, and sight fishing can yield great results.

Explore different water types, experiment with retrieves, and observe fish behavior to fine-tune your approach. So, tie on a GFA Hopper, head to the water, and enjoy the thrill of catching fish with this exceptional fly pattern.