Beetles are fascinating creatures. They have been a favourite since childhood with Rhino beetles the size of two thumbs popping up in our garden quite often and of course water beetles of all kinds, careful those ones bite. I just loved their strength and the iridescent shell back wing covers, even the plain ones looked like highly polished wood.
To be honest I don’t know that much about them compared to other insects. A Google search reveals 400,000 known species and that beetles are most likely the most diverse animals on earth. One thing I do know though is I love fishing beetle flies.
They didn’t feature as fish food growing up because tilapia and bass were the fish targets and beetles didn’t seem to be part of their diet even though I’m most wrong. Trout, on the other hand, love them and it takes me back to a childhood trip to Nyanga, the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, when I was a kid. We went to a trout farm and I saw live trout for the first time in a farm pond. Of course, my instinct was to feed them and I picked up a good-sized beetle lying on the ground and tossed it into the pool, a big trout immediately rose, and ate it and I watched in awe as it swam off juggling the beetle in, out and around its mouth.
I have had a few occasions when fishing small streams for trout where a fishy looking run just didn’t produce a rise with the usual flies and switching to a beetle pattern brought a fish up on the first drift and continued to do so for the rest of the day.
On still waters they can be just as productive as anyone who has fished Sterkfontein for smallmouth yellow fish here in South Africa will tell you.
So how do you go about tying a pattern for such a diverse insect? I guess keeping it simple and matching the beetles of the area is the best place to start. There are many great patterns out there and the Good Doctor’s (Hans van Zyl) beetle is a perfect example.
Here’s a quick tie that works for me.
SB Video – Foam Beetle
Hook 16 – 8 short shank wide gape hook.
Shellback – 2-3 mm foam coloured with permanent marker and coated with Pattex 100%. When tying the foam in use loose wraps and do not compress the foam too much as this will assist in floatation.
Body – dubbing colour of choice.
Legs – Either palmered hen hackles or rubber legs. I know, mine has 8 legs, but I like having a spare leg.
You can add a sighter for rivers and less fussy fish.