Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eric's Beetle

This dressing substitutes a synthetic dubbing for peacock herl and starling hackle for hen. 



Primrose worsted wool underbody overwrapped with bronze Arizona synthetic peacock dubbing

Primrose worsted wool underbody showing at the tip

Starling shoulder hackle

In the 1975 Late-Season Angling issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, T. Donald Overfield gives a brief history and dressing instructions for a Eric’s Beetle, a fly designed in 1940, the “brainchild” of Eric Horsfall Turner. Overfield describes Turner as “an observant entomologist, a world-class competitive caster, an erudite writer and an accomplished fly dresser.” After observing a live beetle draw a strike where his floating flies had not, he studied and designed his artificial beetle. Turner made careful records of “all his dressing experiments and river tests.” He determined that “yellow wool” was the best color for the tip and “took more trout, under all conditions, than any other color,” and he noted also that "the peacock herl body proved superior to ostrich or marabou."

Overfield gives these instructions for dressing the fly that correspond to a series of numbered instructions: “Take a #12 hook and wind the black silk (1) to a point opposite the barb. Tie in a length of yellow wool (2). Take the silk forward for one eighth of an inch (3).Give the wool two or three close turns behind the silk to form a yellow butt (4); do not cut off the waste end. Tie in three peacock herls (5). Wind the silk to the starting point and tie in a small black hen hackle (6). Now wind the wool backwards and forwards (7) to provide a plump body. Take the herl (8) and wind in close even turns over the wool (9). Give the hackle only three turns (10) and complete the fly.”

Overfield notes that Eric’s Beetle is best fished “upstream, with the leader greased to within three or four inches of the tippet point; as the fly drifts downstream under overhanging foliage, sinking the while, it often brings surprising results.” Such a technique would likely work well for other beetle patterns like the Marlow Buzz, Starling and Herl, Bracken Clock, or perhaps T. E. Pritt's Black Snipe


  1. Thanks, Neil, for sharing this pattern. My creative side wants to go to the vise and tie this one up before I forget. Thanks for the inspiration.