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Quick Tie: The Foam Beetle

Quick Tie: The Foam Beetle

 As we enter the heat of terrestrial season, I thought I’d share a recipe and some tips for tying the foam beetle. It’s a simple and effective terrestrial pattern that is extremely versatile. In smaller sizes, it can imitate small beetles and large ants, and in larger sizes it can imitate beetles and any other unfortunate insect that may fall in the creek. I find myself using a size 16 in many situations on the Cumberland Valley spring creeks. It’s my go to early summer terrestrial pattern and works well from mid-June through September. From my experience, the most effective time to fish the pattern is near overhanging brush on a relatively sunny and windy day. It is also a great prospecting pattern for brook trout or fish holding closer to the bank. 

Though tying this pattern is relatively simple, there are many options in regard to how to use the materials that can give it a lot of variability. There are many hooks that will be effective for beetles, but make sure to use a down eye hook. When you tie in the foam towards the head of the fly, it’ll push on the eye of the hook a bit, so it will be easier to thread your hook if the eye is turned down. Experiment with hook sizes and lengths to achieve a size that matches what you see locally. For the shell, the standard color foam to use is black, but other colors will be effective as well. I use 3mm foam for a size 14 hook as a starting point but have had success with a number of different foam thicknesses on various hook sizes. You can cut the foam wide or narrow to get different profiles, but my advice is to tie in the foam a little large, and trim it once you can see it on the fly before folding it over towards the head of the fly. A slight taper will give the fly a nice look. The body utilizes a natural peacock herl, but once again, experiment with different colors. You could even substitute the peacock altogether with dubbing or ostrich herl as well. You can tie in legs if you want a more attractor style beetle, and rubber legs, hackle fibers, or polar/crystal flash can be used. For the sighter post, I like using any fluorescent antron, and sometimes combine two colors. I think it is critical to give yourself some sort of hi vis post, as any black dry fly can be very hard to see under many lighting scenarios on the stream. 

This wild spring creek rainbow was caught close to the bank on a foam beetle this summer.


Hook: Any down eye dry fly hook, size 12-16. I used Tiemco 5212 size 14 in the picture.

Thread: Black 6/0 Uni 

Body: Peacock Herl Natural 

Shell: Black Foam 3mm

Post: Any Fluorescent Antron Yarn (Pink, Yellow, Chartreuse, etc.)

Legs: Rubber Legs, Hackle Fibers or Polar Flash

Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Frank Landis

TCO Boiling Springs

IG: frankflyfishes

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Albert Moschetti - July 18, 2020

Good Stuff Frank…..

Frank Landis - July 16, 2020


You pull the foam over the body and tie it off not right at the eye, but a little further back. This leaves a "hood’s of foam over the eye. You can trim that piece back until it looks like a good beetle profile. This is also where I add the sighter yarn and finish the fly. Hope this helps,


Lee Stucki - July 16, 2020

Does the foam extend over the head, as it appears. Is the head tied off as usual.

Frank Landis - July 16, 2020

Hi Tom, your best bet is to have a good dead drift just like most other dries. Be ready for takes soon after it lands, as trout will often take a terrestrial just after it falls in the water. Good luck fishing!

Bob Betts - July 16, 2020

I just let it float with a dropper below it. If you twitch it, do so slightly.

Bob Betts - July 16, 2020

I just let it float with a dropper below it. If you twitch it, do so slightly.

Tom Timmins - July 16, 2020

How do you “work” the beetle once it is in the water?

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