Thursday, December 10, 2015

Twist Beetle

    Been on a twisted body kick lately & playing with them a lot. Don’t worry. The fly kind. I get excited about something & I go on a roll.   

I love the striking effects created twisting varying materials – tail & wing swords, herl, threads, tinsels, floss – together into a rope & then winding it as the fly body. The wee beetle presented here represents the austere side of the spectrum of possibilities, using a single material, made from twisted swords taken from a bronze/black turkey body feather.

There’s nothing new about the idea of making a simple beetle pattern from twisted herl. My beetle was inspired by the Bracken Clock, a North Country beetle pattern made from peacock herl twisted with red silk. The Bracken Clock was described by William Brumfitt in an 1875 text, so has surely been around longer than that. Unlike the Americans who are always looking for something new, The Brits refine a fly pattern to ultimate usefulness, then they all tie it precisely that way, fish it for 300 years, & do fine.

Wanting to make a smaller beetle than peacock herl allows, I chose a bronze/black body feather taken from a Merriam turkey, twisting the feather barbs, or ‘swords’, with the tying thread to form a rope of herl for the body. The dark, iridescent, turkey body feather reflects green & copper highlights, & these subtly hinted in the twisted fly body.

The pattern makes a fine tiny beetle &, turns out, serves well to cover wee freshwater snails as well. Some places, it might even be more useful as a snail pattern most of the time.

Twist Beetle

Hook: #12-#18 (photo fly is tied on a Mustad 3366)

Thread: black UNI 8/0

Body: bronze/black turkey body feather barbs or ‘swords’ (about 8 for a #14) twisted with a tag of the tying thread – use more swords or build up an underbody with thread for a rounder body

Hackle: black hen or starling ~ & finish.          


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