Here is the fly pattern sheet for Beetle Bailey.
I found this fly pattern on a road trip to Montana several years ago. My apologies to the originator as I don’t know the real name of the fly. It worked well and after a thorough review of the fly, I created this fly pattern sheet. The fish really like it! (Note: since I first posted this fly pattern sheet for a fly I call Beetle Bailey, I found I’ve created a variant of the original fly – the Andrew Grillos Hippie Stomper.)
Daiichi 1280 or TMC 2312 #14 – 12
Danville 70 denier, black
Moose body hair
Black foam – 2 mm
Grizzly Barred Rubber Legs Medium (#12) and Fine (#14) See below for more info.
Orange or yellow foam – 2 mm
- Start thread on hook and advance to barb and return to hook eye.
- Tie on tail material
- Prepare foam by creating point and tie in at eye. Spiral thread wraps over foam back to hook barb.
- Wrap foam with thread to create smooth same color body. Position thread at ½ way point on hook shank.
- Fold foam forward and use thread to create wide spot approx. 2 – 3 mm. This allows for smooth spot for remaining materials.
- Tie in legs on each side of foam body.
- Tie in indicator foam and trim to desired length.
- Tie in hackle and wrap hackle 3 – 5 turns and tie off on side closest to you.
- Pull remaining foam back and continue thread forward to point behind hook eye.
- Pull foam forward and stretch a little and wrap thread 5 tight turns. Do not cut.
- Whip finish by pulling foam up and away from hook eye.
- Trim foam by leaving 2 – 3 mm past hook eye.
- Trim legs to desired length.
Here is a link to my RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel where I demonstrate how I tie the fly.
A friend reminded me that Cutthroat trout really like the color red. I changed the body to red thread and call that pattern Beetle Betty.
Notes (Updated 4/15/2020)
- Originally, I used 8/0 Uni-thread. Lately I’ve used Danville 70 denier thread as I find it makes a smoother body.
- I use the hook gape as a general guide for the foam width. Error on the wide side. You can adjust after tying a couple. You’ll know. I’ve made the mistake of having the foam fit inside the hook shank to point distance. It was too narrow and didn’t look right.
- Generally, I make 4 turns of hackle. The fly does have a tendency to spin if tied to very light tippet. If you can’t fish heavier tippet adjustments can be made.
- For size 12, Grizzly Barred Rubber Legs Medium (Hareline product code – GRM377)
- For size 14, Fine Grizzly Barred Rubber Legs (Hareline product code – GRF377).
And be sure to check out my post – Fly Fishing with Beetles to see how they work!
Love the Beetle Bailey – it has been a great lake and river pattern. I gave a dozen from my fly boxes to an friend in Colorado. He said they made his season, catching most of the larger fish he took last year. He said he almost cried after loosing the last Beetle Bailey in a snag.
1. Unfortunately, I misplaced my notes on width to cut foam. Any suggestions for width of the 2mm foam strip for size 12 and 14?
2. Also, I found using a straight edge and rotary cutter (like used in sewing) makes it easy to cut uniform foam strips.
I think your Beetle Bailey may have originally been a pattern called the Hippie Stomper, created by Andrew Grillos.
You may be right. It was several years ago and I’ve changed the fly pattern to fit my need. Guess it might be called a “variant”.
Just found your site and must say it made my day! I really like the looks of the Beetle Bailey and will have to add it to the fly box. It reminded me of times in the late 80’s and 90’s that I went to and fished the Yellowstone (registered for the FFF conclave every year, but could never drag myself out of the park to go) and a Black Deer Hair Beetle was the ‘go to’ pattern everywhere (other than the #20 rusty spinners every night at Buffalo Ford that made us all crazy). A pattern like the Beetle Bailey would have been amazing.
When looking through your incredible site I had to smile when I stumbled on a reference to a pattern out of Randal Kaufman’s Nymph Book. I started tying over 40 years ago after an impromptu visit to the old house in Tigard, Oregon that was their original shop. I had no intention of buying anything that day, but just wanted to see what this ‘fly fishing thing’ was. I met Lance and Randell’s step father, who was running the store that day (Randall and Lance were at a show somewhere), and he filled 2 shopping bags with tying supplies for me ‘because nobody would ever know’. Along with a 2 hour dissertation on his ‘kids’ life, he also included a copy of ‘The American Nymph Fly Tying Manual’ that basically changed my ‘outdoor’ life. I think that your site might do the same. Thanks again for your desire to share all this incredible information and insight. I look forward to your email updates.
Have a Great Day!
Thanks for your comment and the kind words about RiverKeeper Flies.
Yes, I remember the old house too. Really enjoyed digging around in the corners. I happened to run into Randall yesterday at the NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo in Albany, Oregon. He donated a few of his books…even some first edition, hardback of Tying Dry Flies. I tied a few flies out of that book!
Hope you are a frequent visitor.
Another impeccable pattern, thanks! This little guy seems to consistently tempt the biggest trout willing to rise at any given time, and is quickly becoming my #1 searching pattern. I tie a little peacock hurl in the back half of the body for some extra shine.
Thanks for your comment about Beetle Bailey! You have a great idea to add a little sparkle with peacock hurl. In fact, I tie a beetle fly pattern with peacock herl for the body. Just curious where you fish this fly…
I mostly fish the upper reaches of the Swan River and a few creeks in NW MT to avoid the crowds. Also go into the Missions and Bob Marshall when I can. Thanks for the reply and all the great wisdom in your posts. Jack
YNP Firehole River just above Biscuit. Hour & half with many fly changes. What to do. Look in the box – Beetle Bailey. Bang – 11″ cutthroat. Thanks for the fly. Eric
Thanks for the Comment Eric!
I love hearing a fish story from one of my flies. I’ve had that experience as well. Don’t know why…it just works!