The SMS Beetle by Ulf Hagstrom

Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on November 22, 2010 6:00 am

There are few insects that make a more characteristic footprint on the water’s surface than a beetle.   A classic foam beetle will give you great fishing during the periods when there are a lot of terrestrials on the water, but if you want something more advanced and slightly more sophisticated, the SMS beetle is what you want!

This is a good example of flies I like to tie; flies that will impress both the fish and the fisherman.  Flies like this will attract attention as soon as you open your fly box.

Material List:
Hook: Tiemco TMC 2312
Thread: Sheer 14/0
Body: 2-mm foam
Legs: Plastic Broom Bristles
Antennas: Black Goose Biots

Step 1

Cut a piece of 2 mm foam into a square shape, 7 mm wide and 20 mm long.

Step 2

Cut a small tag at one end.

Step 3

Round off the corners towards the tag, making it look like this:

Step 4

Cut it into a clearly tapered shape.

Step 5

Now, tie in your thread at the back of the hook and tie in the foam body by the tag making it point backward. Then, go forward with your thread and tie down the foam at three points to represent the abdomen, the thorax and the head. The thorax and the head together makes up about one third of the body,  the thorax makes up the other two thirds. Use just two turns of the thread at each point.

Step 6

Unwind the thread, but leave the tag tied in, you will now have three obvious markings where the thread was tied in on the foam.

What I like to do now is to cut the foam at all three markings (about 1-mm) at each side of the foam, this will prevent the foam from curling around the hook when tied in. You will also see the thread now bites deeper into the foam when it is tied in.

Step 7

For the legs, you can use plastic broom bristles from any broom (I have used bristles from a furniture broom).  Tie them in at the hook shank so that the back pair of legs extend from somewhere at the rear third of the abdomen and the middle pair somewhere close to the thorax.

Step 8
The front pair of legs goes in the middle of the thorax. Add a pair of goose biot antennas at the hook eye.

Step 9
Stretch the foam a little and tie down behind the hook eye to create a neat little head.

Step 10

Cut off the excess foam, whip finish, and tie off the thread.  Now color the entire body with a permanent marker…. now I hear you mutter, “Why the heck didn’t he use black foam from the start instead, moron!”  Well, being like I am, I think you get a more realistic look with the marker and the secret treat that you will see in the final steps!

Step 11

Cut a crease through the abdomen with a sharp knife.

Step 12

Use a fine set of flat pliers or tweezers to flatten out the legs just where they extend out from the body, then start bending them to the right shape.

Step 13

Bend the legs further and flatten them to make a more realistic look.

Step 14

I like to flatten the feet of the beetle perpendicular to the angle I flattened the legs.  This adds the illusion that they’re more delicate.

Step 15

There are two more steps I like to take.

To make the fly more realistic to the fish, I like to heavily treat the underside with super glue, which when it dries over the marker, will leave a shiny surface resembling the almost metallic looking color a lot of beetles have on their underside.

Secondly, I like to make it more realistic to the fly fisherman, and treat the top side with two layers of matte water-based varnish, making it look much more realistic, and this is also where using the marker really comes to life!

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Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
The SMS Beetle by Ulf Hagstrom, 8.6 out of 10 based on 13 ratings


  1. tim severn says:

    cool fly. I like the idea of the broom bristles for legs. nice job.

    VA:F [1.9.13_1145]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  2. Geordie boy says:

    First class job even an old beginner like me can try this one

    VA:F [1.9.13_1145]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

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