Whether they live in a sedate chalkstream, where life is easy, or a tumbling mountain stream where anything vaguely edible is snapped up before it has moved a yard, trout will rarely allow a beetle to escape their attentions.
Coming in such a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colours that range from pale brown to an iridescent green, beetles are taken from the surface to the bottom at all times of the day, no matter if the water is trickling over its bones in a drought or during a roaring flood.
A floating beetle imitation cast with care under the overhanging branches in high summer where the lethargic trout huddle in the welcome shade, can usually be relied on to save an otherwise unsuccessful day.
While an artificial dressed on a size 12 hook will be accepted without fuss on most occasions, it is wise to carry versions dressed on smaller and larger hooks for those days when the trout have developed a fondness for a beetle of a particular size.
And, as the trout will see the beetle imitation as a silhouette, there is little need to dress them in any colour other than black, a possible exception being when the trout turn their attentions to the gaudy and highly distinctive soldier beetle.
Hook Size 16-10 Thread Black
Body Peacock herl
Antennae (optional) Black deer or elk
hair Back and head Black closed-cell
foam Hackle Black cock
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the black tying thread to a point halfway along the shank.
2. Take the thread to a point opposite the barb and offer up the trimmed black foam for size.
3. Holding the foam on the top of the hook, secure the foam with tight turns of thread.
4. Trim off the delicate ends from a pair of peacock herls and catch them in.
5. Twist the herls into a rope and begin to form the body.
6. Complete the body and trim away the waste herls.
7. Add the two black deer-hair fibres which will represent the antennae.
8. Remove the soft fibres from the base of a shiny black cock hackle and catch it in.
9. Grasp the tip in the pliers and wind on two turns.
10. Trim away the waste hackle and bring the foam over the herl body, forcing the upward-pointing hackle fibres to the flanks of the fly.
11. Cut away the unwanted foam to leave a small stub pointing out over the hook eye. Use a whip finish to secure the foam in place.
12. Cut the black deer-hair fibres to about a quarter of the length of the fly.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Being such a regular item in the trout’s diet, beetle imitations can be fished on any river or stream anywhere with complete confidence.
W H E N
Although more prolific during the warmer months, beetle imitations can be fished at any time during the season. A reliable last-resort fly when other flies, much closer to the insect actually hatching, have been refused.
H O W
Best when fished singly on a longish leader and a strong tippet. Cast it either upstream so the fly travels at the speed of the current or across-and-down, lifting the rod occasionally to create a little wake.
T Y I N G T I P
As the trout will see the floating imitation from below, keep the shape of a beetle in mind when forming the body and trimming the foam into its final shape.