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The foam beetle fly pattern, no flamboyant wings, stunning body, or extra curricular hackle, like the Volkswagen Beetle, it is unspectacular in design. But also like the VW, it is spectacular in its success. Once routinely overlooked in many parts of the world the foam beetle should be a stand by in your fly box.
Foam beetles had long been a standby in Alaska, and other places where a hatch chart is not so much an entomological smorgasbord as it is acknowledging the mixed blessing that the mosquitoes have returned. Yet beetles are present everywhere. While there are thousands of species of beetles, their forms do not change much, so a standard beetle pattern will do you almost anywhere your freshwater fishing takes you.
Beetles are loaded with protein and even the most satiated trout or grayling is not going to refuse this offering very often. Although widely available they are not given to dramatic hatches undoubtedly part of the reason they are often over looked by fly fishers. Similar to Ants, beetles do have ‘falls’, particularly on windy days, but don’t wait for this event to try this pattern.
Beetles can be important anytime from late spring to late summer. Especially effective in the height of summer, they are almost always worth a cast in the warm months. Often times in heavily fished water, weary trout begin to ignore the headline hatches, yet they will take a beetle with voraciousness. Because a beetle’s untimely descent into the water carries no biological timetable, try a beetle when nothing else is going on. In short, except for perhaps the dead of winter, there is no wrong beetle time.
To fish beetles try reedy areas around lake shores. Cast so the beetle lands with an audible plop. Give it some short twists and strips, like a struggling insect. Beetles are an excellent pattern for beginners to try as they don’t require the finesse of say a #24 Trico, the flies are relatively large, and strikes are usually hard. In streams and spring creeks, try casting to obvious pools and eddies, and other food gathering places where trout are apt to be holding.One drawback of the beetle is its all black body is hard to see, but that is why the Hi-Vis Foam Beetle was invented. Luckily for all of us fly fishing is known for its constant evolution. You could also tie on your own piece of yarn on top of the pattern.