Fishing the Brown Beetle
with John Hey – Foam Beetles by Louie “The Fish” Denolfo
Trout feed on many insects but none create a feeding frenzy like the brown beetle on a warm nor’west night. The trout seem to feed with a recklessness seldom seen. However, if your pattern doesn’t act in the proper manner you can fish all night with out as much as a touch.With the right pattern even the new angler can sample the joys of dry fly fishing. I have tried a few patterns. I have even cut bottle corks down to the shape of a beetle then super glued them to a hook. The main idea is to get the fly to float in the surface film. Therefore a fly with a hackle is not as good as it floats too high, unlike the natural in the film. Over the past few seasons I have been using a deer hair pattern and when Gink floatant is applied, the body floats in the film just like the natural.
By November in Christchurch a few brown beetle will have begun to appear. A week of the good old Canterbury nor’ wester is all we need. It’s great to see a beetle hatch, just on dusk about eight thirty on wards till after dark.
When you arrive don’t start casting randomly; sit on the bank and wait until a fish rises and not just once. Cast too soon and you’ll spook him. You may only cast to a fish or two; you get to know which rise is worth casting to.
The South Branch or the Waimakariri River, the Styx River and the Cam River are good bets. Any small stream you know that has grassy banks or paddocks down to the water’s edge.
The brown beetle pattern is not overly hard to tie. First tie in brown raffia for the back with a strand of thread for dividing the wing case, keep the hook shank bare, take a clump of fine deer hair, hold it diagonally across the hook, two light turns of thread, the next turn of thread pull down tightly, while letting go of the deer hair and it will flair. Then wind through the hair to the front. Push back the deer hair and repeat the step four or five times depending on hook size, I find size 12 works well.
Take the fly from the vice and trim the shape making sure you clear the bite of the hook. It’s not much good tying the best looking fly if it can’t hook the fish.
Next you tie down the raffia and thread, tie in a hackle and wind to the eye of the hook then trim level with the body to represent legs.