Published Aug 29. 2011 - 12 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 28. 2021

Steelhead Beetle

While looking at steelhead flies with a BC guide, one fly 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.

First look - My first look at the fly I first recently learned to know as the Steelhead Beetle
Steelhead Beetle
Martin Joergensen

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

Sharing patterns - BC guide Erik Skaaning shares some \"secret\" patterns
Dustin and myself - Dustin\'s clients were fishing in the background, so he had time to chat
Dustin\'s tall - Our guide Rick Morrison, myself and Dustin Kovacvich. I\'m not particularly small, but Dustin dwarfs most people
Dustin\'s boxes - Dustin\'s flyboxes came out on the banks of the mighty Skeena
Meeting and sharing
Ole Wisler - Martin Joergensen
Overhang - This image shows the overhanging body. The hook eye is underneath the body
Wings and snout - The Steelhead Beetle
The fly
Martin Joergensen

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.

Varying sizes - Steelhead Beetles in varying sizes
The Beetles
Chad Black/Nicolas Dean Lodge
Steelhead Beetle
Pattern type: 
Steelhead fly
Rob Brown
Daiichi 1720 Sizes 10, 8, 6, & 4
Brown Olive
Weed trimmer cord extend past eye of hook
Black foam
Burnt orange dubbing
Medium brown dubbing
Stiff elk or moose hair
Trimmed wing hair and foam
Skill level/difficulty: 

1 - Overhanging extension, foam

2 - dubbing

3 - body done

4 - thread base

5 - deear hair


Blue dot - We easily spotted the Nicolas Dean raft on the bank
Searching the water - Ole searching Skeena for steelhead
Fall Skeena - A beautiful season and steelhead time
Skeena impressions
Martin Joergensen


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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