Tying Terrestrials

By Nick Simonson

While summer, with its bounty of boisterous bugs seems a long way off, the amount of time left to get ready for all sorts of fishing adventures on the long rod is growing shorter and shorter.  Imitating some of those classic summer sights on the side of a stream or lake is as easy as a few turns of thread or a fold of foam.  These fun and easy-to-tie patterns can quickly fill a fly box for some great terrestrial offerings that catch all kinds of fish, from bluegills to bass to trout.

Inching Along

In summer, hordes of inchworms can descend from shoreline trees and bushes, providing fish like trout and bluegills with a readily-available snack.  When inchworms or caterpillars drop from the canopy, it can be some fast and furious fly fishing.


Hook:  Curved dry fly hook
Thread:  6/0 Brown
Body: Micro chenille, olive color

This fly is easy as can be, and makes a good larva imitator for a variety of moths. Start by anchoring your thread on the shank of the hook and winding it back to the bend.  Tie in a piece of micro chenille, about three inches in length, so the body begins on the bend of the hook. Advance the thread to just behind the eye of the hook and let the bobbin hang.  Wrap the chenille edge-to-edge up to where the thread is hanging.  Tie off and trim the micro chenille.

Create a thread head, whip finish and cement for posterity.  The fly should only take a minute or two to complete and can work wonders for you during an inchworm or caterpillar hatch – simple and effective!  Vary the colors and the size of the chenille for the species of inchworms, armyworms or caterpillars that emerge in a given area each summer.

Beetle Bite

Found universally in summer, beetles make an easy anytime snack for bluegills patrolling the surface.  Tie a few up to make for fast fishing on lazy summer afternoons.


Hook: Dry Size 10-18
Thread: Black  6/0
Body: Black Foam
Legs: Pheasant Tail Fibers

Get started by cutting a piece of foam that is just a tad longer than the hook.  Anchor your thread on the hook and tie in the front of the foam about half of the way down the hook shank, so there is no foam pointing forward, only back.  Tie down more of the foam until you reach the hook bend.

Once you have reached the hook bend, advance your thread back over the tied in foam and select three to six dark brown or black pheasant tail fibers.  Lay the fibers perpendicular over the hook, forming a cross of sorts.  Tie the fibers down using a figure eight wrap.  Once the fibers are secure, add a drop of cement to the tie in area to strengthen the fly.

Advance the thread to one hook-eye length behind the eye of the hook.  Fold the foam over the legs and up to the eye of the hook, giving the foam beetle it’s body.  Make two or three wraps of thread behind the front section of foam, as pictured, making a small head.  Whip finish and cement, trimming the head of the fly if needed.  The head should hang over the hook eye, or just a little in front of it.  Take a pin and separate the fibers in the legs for a more natural appearance.

Try adding in dubbing or other body materials in yellows, greens or reds before tying in the legs, or replace the feather legs with rubber sili-legs.  The fly is yours now, make it look the way you want!

Get It Hopping

Summer means grasshoppers in the ditch, the field and the garden.  All it takes is a breeze to drop a few on your favorite lake or stream’s near-shore waters.  Tie up a few of these easy foam patterns, created by the late legendary Black Hills fly angler Al Campbell, to land those fish feeding on the unfortunate hoppers caught in the summer winds.


Hook:  Dry Fly, 2X Long
Thread: 6/0 Color to match body
Body:  Closed cell foam in hopper colors (tan, yellow, grey)
Wing:  Elk hair
Legs:  White Sili Legs
Underbody:  Dubbing in hopper colors
Rib:  Copper wire

Start by cutting a strip of closed-cell foam that is significantly longer than the hook.  Then begin by tying the foam down to the hook shank, about 1/3 of the hook length back from the eye.  Tie it down until you reach the bend.  Then tie in a piece of copper wire.

Using dubbing, peacock herl, chenille or other materials, create an underbody in a hopper color, and dub it up to where the foam was first tied in.  Fold the foam over, leaving a space between the foam and the back end of the dubbed area.  Tie the foam down where it was first tied in, 1/3 of the way back from the hook eye.

During the right periods of the openwater season, these flies will match those unfortunate insects that end up on the surface of a lake or a river.  Beetles are out as soon as things warm up, inchworms and caterpillars are a hallmark of early-to-mid summer and grasshoppers are everywhere come August and September.  These terrestrial insects are often subject to the whims of the wind, and find themselves blown into the water by some random gust.  They don’t often make it back to shore without the snap of a fish right behind them and neither will your offerings!

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