The Winged Beetle

The Winged Beetle

Every beetle I've ever seen on the water has its wing tips visible just behind the shell back halves. This usually amounts to about 25 percent of

  • By: A. K. Best
WingedBeetle
Every beetle I've ever seen on the water has its wing tips visible just behind the shell back halves. This usually amounts to about 25 percent of the insect's total silhouette. Yet all the beetle patterns I see in catalogs and in fly shops have no wing tips showing. I think it's another case of taking photos of an insect the way it isn't seen by the trout and then tying a fly to look like that. It's easy to photograph a beetle when it's on a rock or a stick, but that's not where trout feed, is it?

I've caught trout on the Winged Beetle in every stream I have fished it in. From the Frying Pan River in Colorado to the Henry's Fork in Idaho during Green Drake hatches, as well as on the Tiber River in Italy to a small feeder stream in Denmark. Try it-I'm sure you'll catch fish on it, too.

The Winged Beetle
Hook: Mustad 79580 size 14, 16 and 18
Thread: Danville 6/0 Black
Tail: Pair of medium dun hen hackle tips
Underbody: Black or brown rabbit dubbing
Palmer Hackle: Black or brown saddle
Shellback: Black or Brown Bugskin strip or 1 mm Black or Brown Razor Foam strip
Note: Match dubbing and hackle colors to the shellback color.

Read More »Fly-Tying Instructions
1 Attach tying thread above the hook point and wind thread slightly into the bend. Firmly attach a very small pinch of dubbing to create a tiny ball no larger then the hook eye, just after the end of the shank.
2 Select a pair of hen hackle tips whose width is not quite equal to the hook gap space and tie them on immediately in front of the dubbing ball in a Delta wing formation. The length should be about one-third the hook-shank length.
3 Cut a strip of Bugskin or Razor Foam to be as wide as the hook gap space. Trim one end to an arrow shape and tie the tip on immediately in front of the wings. Be sure the shiny side is down when you tie it on the shank.
4 Create a dubbing ball whose diameter is about half the space of the hook gap and tie on the butt of a saddle hackle in front of it. Continue dubbing to within one hook eye space behind the eye.
5 Palmer the hackle forward, tie it down and clip off the excess. Trim all the fibers from the top of the body. Fold the shellback forward, tie it down immediately behind the hook eye and clip off the excess thread. Turn the fly over and clip off all the hackle from the bottom of the fly.