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Foam Beetle Fly Step-by-Step:
While we may never know who the quote is truly attributed to, there’s an undeniable truth to that age old saying regarding the Creator and his inordinate fondness for beetles. With an estimated 400,000 extant species, beetles (Coleoptera) account for roughly 40% of insect diversity and nearly 25% of all animal diversity on the planet!! As such, it should come as no surprise that fish (and fishermen for that matter) share in this inordinate fondness. This fondness is so great, in fact, that a study conducted in the Smoky Mountains by researchers with Tennessee Tech during the early 2000s found that nearly 100% of terrestrial insect biomass that entered a watershed was consumed by the resident trout. In contrast, only a small percentage of available aquatic insect biomass (albeit a significantly higher volume) was consumed. (See paragraph nine for study reference).
While the above study refers to all terrestrial insects, it is telling given these insects aforementioned abundance. Covering the full spectrum with regards to size and color combinations, every angler’s summertime arsenal should contain at least a handful of these tempting and diverse fish snacks.
|Firehole 317 (size 18); or equivalent||6/0 (Black)||Peacock Herl (three strands)|
|2-mm Craft Foam (Black)||Micro Centipede Legs||2-mm Craft Foam or Post Material|
Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:
(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge)
Tips and Tricks:
1. Let it “PLOP”:
So often in fly fishing, a delicate presentation is paramount. While your #18 BWO dry may be the perfect match for the natural drifting down stream, the slightest splash upon landing or microdrag during the drift is likely to give the local trout a case of lock jaw. A few less than perfect casts in a row, and you may as well call it a day. When beetles are on the menu, however, the average fly fisher is free to throw caution to the wind.
Far from aerodynamic or delicate, the average beetle’s impact with the water more closely resembles that of a pebble than a mayfly. As such, the fly fisher may be best served to let their fly land with a “plop.” Presentation and accuracy still matter of course, but placed in the right spot (say along an undercut bank) that “plop” may serve as a dinner bell to resident trout.
2. Match the Hatch
While the diversity of beetles available to your local trout or panfish may not run the gamut, odds are a number of size, color and shape combinations are available to your local trout at different times throughout the year. Take the time to explore the vegetation along the edge of your local stream each trip and take note of any beetles you see along the way. Once home, apply the basic instructions above to the size and color combination you encountered streamside. It may just make the difference on your next trip.
6. Not all Beetles Float:
Beetles, like all terrestrial insects, are simply not made for the water. And, while they may be able to hang on in the surface film for a time, those that do not find shore drown. With this in mind, consider adding some sunken beetles alongside the pattern above. This can be easily accomplished by substituting Pheasant Tail fibers for craft foam in the above step-by-step. A thin layer of UV resin can also be added for those who want a little more sheen on their wingcase.
Proof of Concept
Sadly, beetle season has passed even here in south Louisiana at this point. As such, I’ll simply leave you with shot of the perfect situation for tying on a beetle. Taken in the Smokys during late summer, this small stream with overhanging brush was just asking me to tie on a beetle. Perhaps if I had, the brook trout would have proven more cooperative on that particular morning.