Terrestrials – or land insects

Gunnison Hopper-03

The trout season is coming to end end, at least if your’re a topwater/dry fly fisherman and many rivers and lakes close down for the winter. But it’s still September and although there are very few mayflies hatching now, there’s still some caddis, but also an abundance of terrestrials – or land insects. They are at their prime now.

Rena Ørred Blue Spot 18-08-04

In Denmark I have noticed unusually many daddy-long-legs this late summer and early autumn, and they can provide som good fishing, and even just searching blindly with a big daddy-long-legs on the leader can be very productive.

Daddy Long Legs - Ahrex Pond 18-05-01

It’s a prey the trout and grayling know well and it’s big and they’re busy stocking up for the winter. Their long, straggly legs are the perfect triggers for big fish, and that’s exactly what Håkan Karsnäser has captured here with this easy-to-tie imitation.


Cut a thin piece of foam, slightly tapering, about 20-25mm long. Lightly heat up a pair of tweezers and make segmentations by pressing the foam with the hot tweezers.


Tie in the foam and let the segmented part hang over the back of the hook. Cur off the waste.


Tie in another piece of foam. Crush down the tag end with a few turns of thread.


Tie in two white hackle tips on both sides of the foam (you can also use poly yarn).


Make two dubbing loops, insert CDC in the first, spin it up and wrap forward in tight, touching turns till you reach the hook eye. Tie off the loop.


Put a little deer hair in the second loop, spin it tight and wrap it over the CDC to the hook eye. Tie off.


Fold the foam over the back. Tie down and cut off the rest.


Cut the deer hair underneath the hook.



There are many, many other species of land insects – the beetle category alone counts thousands of species in Denmark alone, and imitating specific species is pointless of course. But none the less a few beetle imitations are imperative in the box. As are grasshoppers – as with the beetles there’s no point in getting specific – just a few sizes and colours. And don’t forget a few ant imitations as well. The flying ants are most plentiful in August, but they are still around, and the fish love them.

Especially with beetles it’s not too difficult to tie some really nice and realistic imitation – foam, dubbing and rubber legs go a long way as John Petermann from The Fly Co. shows you here.

You can also go even simpler and just tie something black with a sighter. This “Peacock Terrestrial” is always in my box, and I’m quite certain that the fish don’t take it for anything specific – just something edible and black just makes it look terrestrial in my eyes.

Since these bugs don’t hatch in the water, the usually end there by accident. On warm days, where the insects are especially active you can experience some good fishing and a little wind helps in blowing the terrestrials onto the water. You don’t need the lightest of presentations either. Grasshoppers and beetles are heavy bugs that land heavily on the water, so a little “splash” in your presentation is often productive in stirring up some attention from the fish.

Red Beetle - Ahrex Pond 18-05-01

I hope a few warm “Indian Summer Days” are heading your way – and if they are, get out there and enjoy the last few days of the season.