I have included this fly in our nymph section because it is fished like other nymph flies. It originated in England and was given the name Eric's Beetle.
BEETLE / BUMBLE BEE FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 12- $US each
It was designed by Eric Horsefall Turner for use on the river Derwent in England. It then gained popularity on other rivers and is used successfully on stillwater. It can be fished either just below the surface or weighted on the bottom like other nymphs. I personally think it also does a good imitation of a bumble bee or wasp that has been blown into the water and drowned. This pattern has crossed the Atlantic where it has been called the Timber wolf. It does not matter what you call this fly it is a great fish taker
Fly fishing with a Beetle imitation
An insect group that is often neglected by fly fishermen is the terrestrial and aquatic beetle. Rainbow and Brown trout love them. There are more calories in a small beetle than any mayfly or nymph. They represent a substantial meal to the fish. On some reservoirs and lakes they can be the main component of a trout’s diet. Yet when was the last time you tried to tempt a trout to take an artificial beetle pattern?
In England I start to use beetle fly patterns from the start of the season in March and carry on fishing with them until the end of the season. There are more than 3,000 species of beetles in Britain making them the largest group of insects in the UK. There are a lot more species in North America and Europe. The majority of the beetles are land-bourn with only 200 out of that 3,000 beetles being aquatic.
The fly fisherman should concentrate on the terrestrial beetle. They get blown onto the water or fall onto the surface from over hanging shrubs and trees where they are quickly gobbled up by lurking trout. These numbers require the keen fly fisherman to have at least one or two beetle imitations in their fly box. The Aquatic beetle is hard to imitate as most of them cling to vegetation and are sucked off by passing fish.
The way to fish an artificial beetle is to hang one in the surface film and fish it like a dry fly. Remember you are imitating a land creature that has fallen into the water by accident and is panicking. It cannot swim but it will make an effort to get out of its predicament by flaying around with its legs. This causes a disturbance in the water which quickly gets noticed by nearby trout who will come to investigate.
Fish your beetle pattern static with the odd twitch. Do not put your rod down with a fly in the water. Takes are very confident and the fish nearly always hook themselves. I can remember laughing hysterically as a large double figure trout dragged my fishing buddy’s rod out into the middle of the lake after he had put it on the ground to pour himself a coffee.
The perfect day to fish a beetle pattern is when it is overcast and there is a good ripple on the water caused by the wind. The fish will be on the lookout for wind-blown drowning beetles. Find a position with the wind blowing left to right. Cast to your left and let the water gently pull the beetle imitation around in a big arc.
They even work on hot summer days when the trout have sunk down to the depths to escape the heat. Because beetles are such a good food source trout will make the effort to swim back up to the surface to snatch a large inviting snack.
How do I fish a Mountain Lake?
The secret to understanding Summer fishing in mountain lakes is to remember that the wind blows up hill. What is he talking about I hear you saying to yourself. What on earth has that got to do with fishing? It has everything to do with Mountain Fishing. Terrestrial insects like grass hoppers, beetles and ants make up 80% of the summer diet of trout and grayling in alpine mountainous environments. They are carried up the mountain by the wind and deposited in the high altitude lakes. (the biologists call them "upslope blow-ins") Combine this with with the amount of emergent or adult forms of aquatic insect life taken in the surface film then you find that 90% of their food comes from the top. The mountain lake trout cruise and search for food on the water surface film and this is where you should be fishing.
The upslope winds occur when the high ridges receive the morning sun whilst the valleys are still in shade. The cool air of the valley bottom is sucked up to the ridges as the layers mix in an effort to equalize the air temperature. The greater the temperature disparity the stronger the winds. Bug falls are greater in the afternoon. The lake is a heat sink as it is cooler than the surrounding land and therefore creates a thermal variation and downdraft.
Ants are easily plucked from the surface by the winds even by mild winds. They are often the most numerous insect dropped on the water surface because of their low weight. Production of single cell organisms are low and rooted plants are sometimes absent due to the low average temperature . Two winged diptera midge flies are the most common aquatic insects. There are no major hatches of Caddis, Damselflies or Mayflies on many of these lakes. If it has rained within the last 24 hours runoff from a rainstorm will bring drowned spiders, bees, worms and insects into the lake. A Timberwolf, black soft hackle spider or San Juan Worm will bring results fished dead drift. On windless days flying insects still blunder their way onto the water. Just leave a pan of water out for a day and you will find moths, flies and bees floating in the surface.
Wind lanes, those strips of foam whipped up by strong winds across large waters, are worth exploring. Large fish in particular feel safer under the camouflage of the foam, and emboldened to pick off wind-blown bugs like beetles, from the foam. They swim up the lane, into the wind, as the wind helps deliver their lunch! So, drift with the wind at your back down the lane - and with a little luck- you two should meet! - Gregor McGregor HK