Tying Foam Flies

July 13, 2010 by  

In my memory banks, I hold a combined blur of countless lazy, sunny afternoons standing in the shallows of the lake, long after more serious quarries have been abandoned in favor of hearing the plop of a fat foam fly and the delayed smack of a never-satiated bluegill rising to pull it from the surface. The spinning, whirling, iridescent fish coming to hand on a simple foam terrestrial is as much a part of my summer as fireworks on the Fourth and burgers on the grill.

Foam Ant Fly

My fascination with topwater fishing for sunfish began with Rebel’s release of its ultralight line of Crickhopper crankbaits and spilled over well into my fly fishing phase. My fly tying endeavors have allowed me to put together some awesome summertime foam patterns to keep those panfish afternoons alive and well long after the walleyes have gone deep and muskies continued to frustrate. Here are some great foam terrestrials that are quick ties, making for fast fishing.

Foam Ant Fly
Thread: 6/0 Thread
Hook: Size 12-16 Dry Fly Hook
Body: Closed Cell Foam
Legs: Dry fly hackle
Wing: Antron

Foam Beetle Fly
Thread: 6/0 Thread
Hook: Size 10-14 Dry Fly Hook
Body: Closed Cell Foam
Underbody: Peacock Herl
Legs: Pheasant tail fibers

Foam Armyworm Fly

Foam Armyworm Fly
Thread: 6/0 Thread
Hook: Size 12 Curved Terrestrial Hook
Body: Black Closed Cell Foam
Underbody: Green Microchenille
Legs: Dry Fly Hackle, Trimmed
The simplicity of these foam flies is what makes them so fun to tie and fish. All of the above patterns can be assembled in less than five minutes, even by a beginning fly tier. They don’t require floatant due to their buoyant base material and even a rookie can use them to draw a strike from bluegills, which seem to disregard even the sloppiest fly cast when something is sitting on the surface. Sometimes, I tie them up in outlandish colors, just to find out what the sunnies are unwilling to strike. So far, they haven’t passed up the goofiest combination of foam and feather.

Vary the colors, the accompaniments and the sizes to find some fun patterns you can call your own. Keep the ones that work best and don’t worry about the ones that end up in the shoreline trees or snagged in the windsock on the neighbor’s dock. A sheet of foam will last an entire summer, and is always a good investment to help keep those summer bluegill afternoons popping…in our outdoors.

Foam Beetle Fly


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