March 2011


Crowe's Beetle


Presenter/Tyer:
Marv Slind

Crowe's Beetle

Patterns:
Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #12 - 14
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black
Body: Peacock Herl
Shell-back: Black-dyed Deer Hair
Hackle: Black, palmered (under shell-back)
(I add a tuft of light yarn or fur for visibility.)

Foam Beetle

Foam Beetle Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #12 - 14
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black
Body: Peacock Herl
Shell-back: Black Foam
Hackle: Black, palmered (under shell-back)
(I add a tuft of light yarn or fur for visibility.)
Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Sometimes it's hard to match a particular hatch effectively, and no imitation that you throw at the fish will come close enough to the real thing to attract their attention. That's when a good terrestial imitation can come in handy. In such conditions, I usually turn to a hopper or cricket, but every once in a while I remember a beetle pattern tucked away somewhere in one of my fly boxes. And it is usually very effective (so much so, that I usually ask my self why I don't think of using it more often).

There are quite a few beetle imitations to chose from, but these are two variations of one of the better known patterns, "Crowe's Beetle." I'm not sure my imitation is very close to the original, because I've doctored it up a bit, but it's close enough that I'm not comfortable skipping the original name, for fear of being accused of plagiarism.

The deer hair version looks good, and floats well. But after a couple of fish, it gets chewed up pretty quickly and becomes too ragged looking to approximate any self-respecting beetle. But I present it for those of you who prefer using natural materials, rather than synthetics, like foam. The latter provides excellent flotation, and is more durable than the deer hair. But I admit that it doesn't have the same "feel" as the natural material.

Either way, it's a fairly simple fly to tie. Start by tying in what will become the shell-back: tie a bunch of deer hair fibers onto the shank of the hook by the tips, with the rest of the hair haning over the bend of the hook. (If you're tying the foam version, tie a section of foam onto the hook shank, covering most of the shank in order to form a uniform body shape.) Then tie on a black hackle feather, followed by three or four strands of peacock herl.

Although you can simply wrap the peacock herl around the hook shank at this point, that leaves a very fragile body, which will get chewed up more quickly than the deer hair. I really like peacock herl for insect bodies, because it gives a nice irridescent appearance, but it has the drawback of being so fragile. Thus, whenever I use peacock herl, I make a "rope," wrapping the strands of herl around the tying thread, and then wrapping this "rope" around the hook to form the body. After you've tied it off, palmer the hackle sparsely over the herl to form something resembling legs.

Finally, bring the deer hair or foam over the body to form the shell-back, tie off, and trim the head. Also trim the hackle to about the same size as the hook gap. For extra durability, some patterns call for a few drops of head cement on the top of the body before the shell-back is laid on.

Some variations of this pattern use other techniques to make the legs. Instead of the palmered hackle, some use the ends of the shell-back fiber: instead of trimming all of them, bend a few of them back and under the fly. Another method is to tie three hair fibers across the body of the fly before tying on the shell back: spread them out so that three fibers stick out on each side to form six legs. I find the palmered hackle to be the simplest technique. Just keep it fairly sparce.

As noted in the pattern, I add a small tuft of light-colored yarn for visitibility (not for the fish, but for me).


Photograph ©2011 by Marv Slind