How to Tie a Turbo Beetle

Producer: Tim Flagler

I call this fly the Turbo Beetle as it’s kind of a souped-up version of my regular beetle pattern. It works especially well in late summer and early fall, and can be used for bass and panfish as well as trout.

The Turbo Beetle starts with a size 12 Lightning Strike NW1. After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise, I load a bobbin with a spool of UTC 140 in black. The heavier thread makes it possible to get the foam used in this fly really well secured.

Get the thread started of the hook shank behind the eye and, after taking a few wraps rearward, snip off the excess tag. Continue taking touching wraps back to the start of the hook bend then give your bobbin a clockwise spin, as if you’re looking down on it, to cord up your tying thread. Make open spiral wraps up the hook shank with the corded thread to add some texture which will further help to anchor the foam. End with your tying thread two full eye-lengths behind the back edge of the hook eye.

For the body of the fly, I like to use a small beaver-tail cutter from River Road Creations to cut out nicely shaped pieces of black 2mm craft foam. If you don’t have a cutter, 1/4” wide strips of foam will work just fine. Pick up a small amount of super glue, here, Fly Tyer’s Z-ment, and apply a light skim to the thread wraps on top of the hook shank. Lay one end of the foam, here, what’s normally the hind end, on top of the hook shank, leaving a 2 eye-length space behind the hook eye. Take 2 tight thread wraps to secure the foam. Angle your thread rearward and cinch it down to create another foam segment. Keep making segments until you reach the start of the hook bend. Cross over top of the rear segment and leave your thread hanging just in front of it. Having these segments relatively uncompressed helps with floatation.

Small, black, round rubber is used to create the legs of the fly. Strip a single 3” long length from the rest. Fold that length in half and get hold of it by its midpoint. Place that midpoint on top of the fly at the location of your tying thread and take a couple of wraps to secure it. Angle and wrap your thread over top of each of the segments until you’re in front of the foam. Pull the rubber leg loop forward and begin anchoring it to the hook shank. Then wrap rearward to anchor it between the foam segments. End with your thread back at the start of the hook bend. Pull the rear legs down on either side of the fly.

Pluck an ample amount of olive Ice Dub free from the packet and use it to create a 3” long dubbing noodle on your tying thread. Start taking wraps with the noodle to cover up the foam segment behind the rubber legs then pull the legs back and take wraps with the noodle in front of them to hold them back. Continue taking touching forward wraps up the shank. If you run out of dubbing, go back to the packet, pluck out more dubbing and use it to create another noodle on your tying thread. Take wraps with this noodle, first to in back of the front rubber legs then take a few in front to hold them back. End with your tying thread behind the hook eye. Snip the rubber loop to produce 4 legs on the fly, 2 on each side. Pull the foam forward, over top of the dubbed body and anchor it to the hook shank, leaving a short little Gurgler-like head. Bind the foam down really well with tight wraps of tying thread.

White polypropylene floating yarn is used to help make the fly a bit more visible to the angler when it’s on the water’s surface. After snipping a card-width segment free, get hold of the snipped-off end and place it on top of the fly, above your tying thread. Take a loose wrap to pin down the yarn, then pull to shorten the yarn under the wrap. Continue taking thread wraps to bind the polypropylene down really well. Snip the yarn off so it extends about 2/3rds of the way down the back of the fly.

Pluck just a small amount of Ice Dub from the packet and produce a very slender inch-long noodle on your tying thread. You really don’t need much at all. Reach for your head cement, or here, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, and apply a small drop to the exposed thread wraps on top of the fly. Wrap over the thread and wing base with the dubbing noodle to cover them up. You should end with bare tying thread immediately behind the hook eye. Reorienting the fly in the vise, so the eye is in a more horizontal orientation, will make it much easier to whip finish. Pick up your whip finish tool and use it to do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free.

Place the fly back in its normal orientation in your tying vise then trim the legs to about a hook or slightly more in length. The underside of the fly should be fairly full yet still not block the hook gap too much.

And that’s the Turbo Beetle. Skittering this fly on the water’s surface, then pausing it, seems to drive fish absolutely crazy and often results in extremely aggressive takes.