Nick's Hi-Vis Beetle - by Nick Jones
In the spring of 2002 I met a girl who fished and tied flies. We met on a group fishing outing, and our 2 nd date was in court because we got busted fishing a closed river (an honest accident!). From early April until the fall of that year, we put in just over 60 days on the water together, and “date night” was often dinner after a day of fishing, and then an evening of tying. As a former production tyer for Rainy’s original shop, she had a plethora of foam, and an affinity for sparkly stuff. I loved new things…peacock herl dyed vibrant colors, and tools to make uniform rows of identical flies in the box. My dyed red peacock herl co-mingled with her sheet foam and a beetle body cutter. Some of her hot pink Rainy’s foam parachute posts added quick and clean visibility, and I added crystal flash legs to make her smile.
She took a few for her fly box, but preferred tying and fishing thoraxes, caddis, midges…a lot of hatch matching. I fished the beetle regularly, with good results, but wasn’t satisfied with the visibility in all conditions. That summer we fished the nearby small creeks, high alpine lakes, the well-known Provo and Green Rivers, all over Yellowstone, and on bass and panfish ponds. The beetle had a thorough testing. I tried different colored foam posts for visibility, but nothing worked like I wanted, and I didn’t want to have to tie different colors for different conditions. I learned how to laminate foam sheets, and found that the orange side of the two-toned strip on the finished pattern really popped out in the sun, while the chartreuse was highly visible in the shady runs. The black foam body naturally stands out when glare is on the water. I now tie my Hi-Viz Beetle in the #12 to #18 range, but the #12 is my go to size. They work well to hang little tungsten beaded nymphs through the middle of the day when the fish won’t look up. They can get tooth scarred and twisted, but still stay together and float well. You’ll most likely lose one to a tree or a broken tippet than wear one out.
Beetles will fish well from the time the first buds appear on branches in spring, until the first good frost of fall. They are a great pattern to work with while you’re waiting for a hatch, and it’s my go-to pattern when I hit a new water during that beetle season. That girl? She married me. I knew the pattern was a success when I caught her fishing it when I wasn’t looking, and then hiding it and denying that she was using it. She once even admitted that she started a day fishing it. And it kills her that I might be right about something.