FLY OF THE MONTH- November – 2019
FLY OF THE MONTH
The Black Beetle – from Rick Keam
Rick Keam came up with this suggestion a few weeks ago when I was looking for a candidate for our Fly of the Month. As Rick said, how about the all-but-forgotten wet Black Beetle? It used to be one of the great stand-bys, but for some reason unrelated to its effectiveness, has fallen into disuse. It is also dead-easy to tie.
David Scholes, Fred Stewart, and Dick Wigram are just three who wrote about the effectiveness of this pattern. In terms of fishing it, Rick’s advice is to cast it ahead of cruising fish or search the margins of lakes and streams. Very effective when fished like a nymph on a leader greased to within a few inches of the fly. But watch closely for any movement of the leader.
Hook: #14 wide gape dry fly (although a wet fly, it performs best if it doesn't sink too fast).
Thread: Black 6/0.
Body: Black wool built up slightly to the shape of a small beetle, or black chenille.
Back: Narrow strip from crow wing or other black feather.
Hackle: After the strip of crow wing is brought forward over the body, wind three or four turns of short black hen hackle (Reg Lyne) or more often, brown hen hackle (Dick Wigram).
- Put the hook in the vice and run a line of black thread along the shank from just behind the eye to just before the bend.
- Select a suitable strip of black fibres on a black crow feather. The strip should be about 3 millimetres wide. Before cutting it from the quill (shaft or rachis) it is helpful to give it a thin coating of something like Softex Fly Tying Cement, a soft gooey liquid that holds the fibres together and stops them from splitting when you tie them in.
- Helpful to give it a thin coating of something like Softex Fly Tying Cement, a soft gooey liquid that holds the fibres together and stops them from splitting when you tie them in.
- Take the black crow feather strip and lay it along the top of the shank. Tie it in by running the tying thread along the strip towards the eye then back again to the bend.
- Tie in a short length of black wool and then wind the thread back along the shank toward the eye to a point a couple of millimetres behind the eye (thus leaving room behind the eye for the hackle to be tied in).
- Wind the black wool back and forth along the shank to build up a reasonably rotund beetle body. When you’ve built up the body sufficiently tie off the wool.
- Lift the black crow fibres up and lay them carefully over the body to form a flat wing case. Tie the fibres in with the thread then cut and remove the waste.
- Tie a small soft hen hackle feather (black or dark brown) in behind the eye (by the tip), then carefully wind two turns of hackle. Tie the feather in with the thread, then cut away the waste.
- Take a few turns of thread behind the eye to build up a small head and force the hackle feathers to lie sloping backwards a little.
- Complete the fly with a couple of half hitches or a whip finish and a drop of head cement.