If you are a "Proud Boy" or other neo-Nazi that came to this page expecting to learn how to "stomp" hippies, thanks for the view but move along. This post is about the a great fly with a terrible name. For more about how that terrible name came to be, read MidCurrent's blog post, Where Have All the Hippie Stompers Gone?
The Hippie Stomper is the perfect Driftless terrestrial, no exaggeration. It is tied in "Driftless sizes", it is visible, it floats well - but not too well, it is beetle-ish and generally just food-ish. It is an easy to see and foam humpy. And it's easier to tie than a humpy - but not a simple tie. As Andrew said, "My aim was a size 12 to 16 fly that floated well and was extra visible for older guys to follow." Well, it has worked for this old guy.
The match of the Hippie Stomper and the Driftless Area was all a bit serendipitous. Mat and Geri at the Driftless Angler certainly introduced many of us to the fly. I feel reasonably confident in saying that it is their best selling fly (if not that, then it has to be the Milwaukee Leech). In fact, it was rather obvious to Andrew that his fly pattern was selling particularly well at one small fly shop in Wisconsin's Driftelss Area, a place he knew little about. And that brought him to Wisconsin to spend a bit of time fishing the Driftless and a little socializing. OK, a good bit of socializing.
Tying the Hippie Stomper
I feel really stupid telling people how to tie a Hippie Stomper when there are such better sources out there. I would rather watch Andrew Grillos do it himself.
And the pattern from Andrew's page about tying the Hippie Stomper (seriously, go there!).
Hippie Stomper Pattern
Thread: Ultra Thread, 70 denier, Black
Tail: Moose body hair
Overbody Sizing: Size 6-10, black layer is 2mm foam, under layer is 1mm foam. Size 12-16 both layers are 1mm foam. Size 18 black is 1mm under layer is .5mm foam.
Underbody: Holographic Flashabou
Wing: McFlylon dun or white
It is not the easiest of flies to tie, in my experience, but it is probably about an intermediate level tie. Getting the overbody foam correctly tied in and making a smooth underbody for the Flashabou underbody takes a few flies to get right. And the proportions take a bit tweaking. Because the foam is tied over the hook eye, it can be easy to tie it so the fly is hard to tie on the tippet. I have seen them tied using River Road Creation's beetle cutters and I followed suit thinking it would create an easier to tie and slimmer body. I did not like that method at all. I like the cutters for beetles but to tie the Hippie Stomper well, follow Andrew's directions. The cutters did not help and actually made the fly harder to tie well.
It is not the easiest fly to tie, certainly not great for the beginning tyer, but it is simpler than tying a well tied humpy. And I think it is more visible and effective. Andrew cuts the hackle nearly flush with the body on the underside of the fly. I either follow that or I cut more of a "V" in the hackle but in either case, it fishes better than the fully hackled version in my experiences.
Fishing the Hippie Stomper
By far, the most common use of the Hippie Stomper is the "hopper and dropper" rig employed by so many. I am not a huge fan - which I explain in another post - though I do fish a dropper off it at times. Most of the time, I prefer to fish it as a beetle / attractor terrestrial dry fly sans dropper.
My favorite colors, generally in order, are: purple, pink, black, red, and royal. I typically fish a #16 but will fish a #14 or #12, particularly if I am fishing it as the dry above a dropper. I know people that have caught fish in every month on the fly but it seems to shine from May through the end of the season. Driftless streams are dominated by terrestrial insects from about July through the end of the season - though some of the hatches pick up in September and early October and the Trico hatches / spinner falls of August and early September mornings can be pretty good. After the fishes have seen - and eaten - a good number of terrestrial insects, they are very willing to come up for the Hippie Stomper. That is probably my favorite thing about Driftless streams - the fishes are very often willing risers.
Put on some 3 - 5X tippet (4X is my standard) and cast those Hippie Stompers close to the banks or drop a heavily weighted nymph from it, if you must, and fish it through riffles, runs, and pools. The Hippie Stomper is a work horse, a jack-of-most-all-trades terrestrial fly pattern. It was created on Colorado's Gunnison River but it is a Wisconsin favorite. Make it more Wisconsin by dropping a Pink Squirrel off the bend, I suppose (if you must)...