By Nick Simonson
From the basic to the bombastic, there are so many ways to tie up foam beetles. An easy fold of foam over an underbody of dubbing, yarn or herl can produce a dozen quick flies to keep the summer fun rolling on a favorite bluegill pond or lake. Add in a bright parachute for visibility, a set of silicone strand appendages or as in today’s example, pheasant tail fiber legs, and one can take the simple and turn it into the sublime, with all the accoutrements desired by the fish or the angler. Feel free to customize the pattern as dictated by the fish or your imagination. Don’t wait until winter to tie them up though, as these flies shine right now in the warmest waters of the year and come together quickly on the vise.
In order to sneak this pattern in to our 50 Pheasant Flies series – and complete our summer symposium on easy and fun foam recipes – we’re dolling up the most basic beetle with a set of six legs designed to look something like those sticking out from one of the season’s most prevalent terrestrials, while keeping the high-floating foam and the allure of peacock herl that most fish just can’t resist.
Hook: Dry Fly, Size 10-16
Thread: 6/0 Black
Underbody: 2 Strands Peacock Herl
Legs: Three PT Fibers
Body: Black Closed Cell Foam
Start the fly by securing the hook in the vise and setting down a thread bed, leaving the bobbin hanging just a bit behind the hook eye (1). Next select a strip of closed cell foam, a little more than two times the length of the hook shank, and trim one end to a point. Tie the pointed end in just behind the hook eye and secure it all the way along the hook shank to the bend, wrapping over it a couple times and adding a drop of head cement for posterity, leaving the thread hanging near the bend (2).
Tie in two strands of peacock herl at the bend and advance the thread to the mid-point of the hook shank (3). At the mid-point, tie in three pheasant tail fibers, perpendicular to the hook shank, and use the thread wraps to separate each and secure them, so they angle out from the shank; advancing the thread to just behind the hook eye (4). Carefully wrap the peacock herl forward through the PT fiber legs and up to the thread where the herl can be tied off and the excess trimmed (5).
Fold the foam over the underbody and secure it with a few thread wraps placed over one another to hold the foam (6). Whip finish and trim the foam so it hangs just a bit over the hook eye, forming a small head; add a tiny drop of head cement to the bottom of the thread wraps to lock everything in place and the fly is finished (7). Feel free to trim and bend the PT fiber legs to give them a buggier look, if desired.
Go nuts with these flies right now. Bluegills and sunnies are actively feeding up top as the warm homestretch of summer approaches. Make it a point to see how many can be caught on just one beetle and watch as the more gnarly and chewed-on they get, the better they perform. The buoyancy of the foam will remain as long as it stays on the hook, so keep casting! With these and all the other fun foam patterns that have been put together, it’ll be a strong finish to summer on the long rod.