Steelhead Beetle

Published Jan 26th 2012

For a long time I didn't know the name of this fly and called it Dustin's Broom. Its real name is the Steelhead Beetle.


Steelhead Beetle

A few years ago I was fishing the Skeena up near Terrace in British Columbia, and while moving from one fishing spot to another we passed a raft and three or four anglers on the bank accompanied by a tall, bearded guide. Our own guide recognized him, turned the boat and banked it next to the raft.

We stepped out and said hello to Dustin Kovacvich, lodge manager and guide from the Nicholas Dean Lodge on the Skeena, who like most guides up here proved to be a really nice and forthcoming fellow, easy to talk to and very helpful.
We chatted about the fabled steelhead fishing in the area, and Dustin talked about the different rivers such as the Copper River and some "remote coastal streams" usually accessed by helicopter.

Dustin also dug into his fly boxes and passed different steelhead flies around. Most of them were the usual bunch of colorful marabou on large hooks, but one in particular stood out: a somewhat ugly contraption with a deer hair wing and not least an "overhanging" head, in other words tied so that the hook eye was under the fly and not in front. Dustin told me that one material in the fly was weed trimmer cord, which just made the fly more interesting in my eyes.
one in particular stood out: a somewhat ugly contraption with a deer hair wing and not least an "overhanging" head

Meeting and sharing

The fly

I took pictures of the fly, but forgot its name and put it aside until a few days ago, where I stumbled over the pictures from those beautiful days on the Skeena.

Now, many years later I tried contacting Dustin and the Nicholas Dean Lodge, but while Dustin himself was busy guiding, this being September and high season, I got a reply from Chad Black, the operations manager of the lodge, who told the story about the fly, which is a Steelhead Beetle.

Chad wrote me: "This fly was originally developed by Rob Brown as a combination of many successful Steelhead Skating Patterns.
It is more buoyant than the Grantham Sedge and is used in more broken and turbulent water. In smaller sizes it also can be fished as a dead drift dry fly with good results."

Rob Brown is an author who has written about the Skeena and steelhead fishing in books, magazines and online.

The Beetles

Steelhead Beetle
TypeSteelhead fly
Rob Brown
Target species
Atlantic salmon (sea run)
Brown trout
Pacific salmon (sea run)
Steelhead (sea run)

HookDaiichi 1720 Sizes 10, 8, 6, & 4
ThreadBrown Olive
UnderbodyWeed trimmer cord extend past eye of hook
TagBurnt orange dubbing
BodyMedium brown dubbing
WingStiff elk or moose hair
BackBlack foam
HeadTrimmed wing hair and foam

1 - Overhanging extension - Tie on a piece of thick mono or a piece of weed trimmer cord to extend the hook shank. Melting it in the tip can keep the material in the head from slipping.
1 - Overhanging extension
2 - dubbing - Add some burnt orange dubbing as a tag
2 - dubbing
3 - body done - Continue the body forwards to the hook eye using brown dubbing
3 - body done
4 - thread base - Form a small thread base on the overhanging part of the cord
4 - thread base
5 - deear hair - Tie on a single bunch of deer hair as a wing on the overhanging part, letting the hair\\\'s butts and tips flare slightly
5 - deear hair
Done - Pull the foam forwards, splitting the wing. Tie it down and trim close to the tie-in spot

Skeena impressions

The Nicolas Dean Lodge is located in Terrace BC, and their homepage can be found here.

We have covered the Grantham Sedge here.

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