The Foam Beetle 2.0 is an update on a similar pattern I’ve been tying and using for years. The main difference between the two is this one uses very thin rubber leg material, as opposed to hackle fibers, to represent legs, and I really think they Help. Like all good beetle patterns, this one lands on the water’s surface with a nice little plop and floats right in the film with its iridescent peacock herl underbody shimmering below. The bright spot on top of this version, which makes it more visible to the angler, is far easier to produce and tie in than on the previous. Beetle patterns work particularly well in the late summer and early fall when the naturals are Here, There and Everywhere.
For a hook, I like a Dai-Riki #300 in size 14. Begin by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, going a little bit heavier can’t hurt, here, black UTC 140 Denier. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving an eye-length space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
For legs, black mini-sized centipede legs from Montana Fly Company can’t be beat because they’re so wonderfully thin and supple. Snip a single strand free from the hank and fold it roughly in half. Place the loop end on top of the hook shank with the loop extending out in front of the eye. Secure it to the top of the shank with a couple wraps of tying thread. Stretch the remaining material back and take wraps rearward to bind it to the top of the shank. Continue wrapping all the way to the start of the bend and then back up to the initial tie-in point. Next, pull the loop up and snip it off close.
The back and head of the fly are made from plain old black craft foam that’s been cut into a 1/4” wide strip. Snip off the corners at one end of the strip, this will make the initial tie-in process much easier. Place the snipped end over top of your tying thread and take a wrap or two to secure it. Continue taking thread wraps rearward to bind the foam to the top of the hook shank, all the way back to the bend. Then take more wraps forward to further bind down and compress the foam. Once again, end with your thread at the initial tie-in point.
Natural colored peacock herl is used to create the underbody of the fly, 4 or 5 herls is all you need. To avoid breakage, snip an inch or so of the brittle tips off square. Place the snipped-off ends on top of the hook shank at the tie-in point and begin securing them with thread wraps all the way to the bend. Leave your thread in this location. Get hold of the herls and start making wraps with them, behind your tying thread, up the hook shank. Pressure from the thread will help the herls stay compressed so they don’t end up all Helter Skelter. Because of the foam underneath, the wrapped herl should produce a fairly robust body. When you reach the initial tie-in point, secure the herls with 2 to 3 wraps of tying thread. You can then use your tying scissors to snip the excess off close.
It doesn’t look like much now, but this is where the fly really starts to Come Together. Pull the foam strip forward to form the beetle’s back and take several firm thread wraps to bind it to the top of the hook shank. Using the front edge of the hook as a guide, snip the excess foam strip off square. Although you don’t have to, I like to snip off just the very corners of this little piece.
To make the fly more visible in the water, medium or large sized, cylindrical foam is super easy to work with. Here, I’m using bright green but other hi-viz colors are also available. Place one end of the cylinder in line with the foam head of the fly and take 2 or 3 wraps to secure it. Then reach in with the tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess off close, it’s as easy as that.
Now it’s time to whip finish. If the foam won’t Get Back, away from the eye, just push it rearward with your thumb. This will allow you to sneak in a 4 or 5 turn whip finish behind the eye and under the foam head. When you’re done make sure to seat the knot really well and then snip or cut your tying thread free.
Did Tim forget the front legs you say? No, it’s just there’s a simple way of attaching them that’s much easier than trying to tie them in. So, don’t worry, We Can Work It Out. Cut another single strand of centipede legs free from the hank. Take one end of the material and slip it between the bright spot and the foam back. Make sure to get it down into the crevice really well. Now, take the other end and do the same behind the head. Believe it or not, the material, once wedged in in this manner, won’t come out during normal use, even when pulled pretty hard. With everything in place, snip all the legs off so they’re about a full hook in length. I know this is longer than on the naturals, but I think the added motion from the extra length really helps the pattern come to life.
If you’re worried about those front rubber legs pulling out, you can always apply a drop of head cement to them on either side of the little bright spot to insure they won’t. I prefer to just Let It Be.
Although it’s not that much different than the older version, sometimes even the smallest of changes make a big difference. In other words, this pattern seems to be Getting Better all the time.