By Nick Simonson
The season of large grasshoppers and crickets truly doesn’t kick off for another month or so and those big juicy jumpers of two inches or more are just starting off as little bitty bugs right now. That doesn’t mean a fast bite can’t happen for panfish and trout as smaller hoppers and crickets begin to venture out into the warming world around the water’s edge. The Mini Cricket is just a dark version of Ben Smith’s Mini Hopper, and can easily be converted to yellow, brown, gray and green to match the various colored grasshoppers in any area. With a handful of these easy-to-tie flies across the naturally occurring color spectrum (and maybe a few wild ones) in tow, you’ll be ready to start summer’s most exciting bite.
Hook: Dry, Size 10-14
Thread: Black 6/0
Head: Closed cell foam, black
Body: Dubbing, black
Wing: Stacked elk hair
Legs: Silicone strands, black/brown
CLICK HERE FOR STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL
Start the Mini Cricket by securing the hook in the vise and selecting a strip of black closed cell foam, trimming one end into a sharp “V” shape (1). Tie the foam into place by the V so it covers the front two-thirds of the hook and hangs out over the hook eye (2). From there, create a dubbing yarn at the bend of the hook to form the body of the fly (3). Wrap the dubbing forward forming a tapered body that builds to just behind the foam (4).
Select a pinch of elk hair and even the tips out in a hair stacker. Trim the butt ends so the wing length extends slightly out over the bend in the hook and tie them into place (5). Once secured, add a small drop of head cement to the butts and thread wraps for posterity and select two silicone strands for legs. Tie the sili legs in on either side of the elk hair wing and secure them with a few thread wraps (6).
Next, fold the foam back over the fly, creating a small head that extends slightly over the hook eye and tie it into place with a few firm thread wraps (7). At that tie-in point, whip finish and add a small drop of head cement to secure everything in place; cut the foam so a short nub rests just over the elk hair wing and trim the legs so they’re even on both sides and the Mini Cricket is finished (8).
Cast the Mini Cricket with reckless abandon at shoreline vegetation in small farm ponds, on grassy trout streams or anywhere else you see grasshoppers or expect fish to be feeding on the surface this summer. Let it land with a *SPLAT!* and get ready for the hookset! Quick and easy to tie, it’ll be fast action all season with a box stocked full of these fun flies.