The Legend of the Rock Hopper

Some days start out with a great cup of coffee and end with an IPA and a story. This is one of those days. 

A week earlier I meet up with JP and his son at my camping spot of the next few days. This friendship has been developing from a common interest in conservation, a love of Fly Fishing for Trout and the belief that wild fish need to be protected. This day JP brought me the Rock Hopper S-Glass 5 ½ FT 2/3 WT fly rod to try. In my trout bum fashion I told JP I would put this rod to the test. Little did we know what was about to transpire in the week that would follow. 

I fished the Rock Hopper all weekend and caught some beautiful brook trout (another story). I was starting to really enjoy this short little guy. I have always been a short rod fan but 5 ½ FT was shorter than anything I have ever fished and I had my reservations. That weekend I fished mainly dry flies and weighted wooly buggers. This rod was living up to the hype and I knew I had to put it to the test. 

Fast forward a weekend later and I knew it was time to get out and see what this little rod could do. The things that would transpire are what legends are made of (the Rock Hopper Rod not me). 

Coffee is the nectar of the gods and a must to start an over cast Saturday morning. Its 6:30 am and I’m now ready to pick a spot to try to put a real bend in the Rock Hopper. I knew what flies I would use two of my favorites for this early June time of the year in Upstate NY. A bead head Sexy Stone (coffee color after all coffee is life) in size 8 with a trailer about 16 inches down of a shop-vac in size 16. Simple yet deadly. 

Now, at this point I just needed to let the Trout Bum mind ponder the limitless options for this adventure. Just like that it was decided I was fishing the new spot I found a few weeks earlier at the old bridge. 

Rolling up my mind was filled with expectations of maybe a 13-14 inch Brownie.  After all this rod is meant for small stream fish and a 14 inch trout would be a giant. I park and got out. As usual I was getting ready out of the trunk of my amazing Subaru.  I just couldn’t stop admitting the craftsmanship in this rod. I mean it’s a work of art. With that it was time to take the short walk to the bridge and the stream. 

I come on to the water and I have fished here just the one time before .I have an idea of where I want to cast. I have my nymphs all tied on and ready to go.  A little note here is I naked nymph. Get your minds out of the gutter! This means I don’t use a sighter or an indicator, I just watch the line and use the feel of the rod. It’s challenging yet simple. I check my camera position and see if it’s ready to film. In the mind of this trout bum I’m just going to get a cast out to get a feel for this rod with two nymphs on it with an 8ft leader. The camera is not rolling but my cast is .I let the nymphs drift and just as I would want to pick up and cast I make myself wait 3 seconds. This is one of nymphing go to rules and it WORKS!!

At the count of 2 I feel the slightest bump and lift the rod and all you can hear is the drag screaming! Time to get work. I tighten my drag and somehow manage to get the video rolling. It’s just a WOW moment filled with reel palming and bending a rod to its limits. The excitement gets the best of me and I can be heard hooting and hollering, normal for a trout bum like me. I was pumped!! I still had to get this fish landed so with some side pressure and a 2 ½ minute fight (which is incredible with such a small rod) I almost get him to the net. 

The challenge.  A Short rod and long leader how do I do this? A little heart flutter is felt as I wasn’t sure it could be done. I have this monster fish on light tippet a short rod bending way past the point that it should and a long leader. Like a shot of whisky going down I know if this rod can do this I can land this fish!! I reel well into my leader and with the help of my long handled Stream Walker Net, Houston we have success! The excitement is heard in my voice and my customary what a Dandy and Ya Buddy can be heard in the video. I set out to test this Rock Hopper Rod to see if it could handle a nice fish. What I didn’t realize is that the Rod had just become a legend landing this 18 ½ brown trout. It didn’t just land this fish but it horsed him out of fast water in record time for any rod let alone a small rod. 

A few pictures and a video release of this Giant Brown Trout and my mission was accomplished. This was my first cast of the day and well I wasn’t done. I love to fish so that’s what I continued to do. 

Working the water I missed another small fish and continued up stream. A nice easy cast and I see that line sink, I lift the rod, and we have another trout on the line. A little fight ensues and I have the fish at hand in no time. More excitement can be heard in my voice as I have a 6 ½ inch brown trout on a stocked stream. This can only mean one thing a possible wild fish!! I was once again pumped and filled with adrenaline. I quickly unhooked the shop-vac from his jaw and set him free. This was the last fish of the morning but what a day to remember. 

That evening I sat back enjoyed an IPA and relived the day and those fish. A giant caught on a sexy stone and wild trout caught on the shop-vac. What a day it was... A random Saturday in early June and “The Legend of the Rock Hopper” was born. 

The Adirondack Trout Bum

Alvin H Montana II 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published