Fly of the Month – DC’s Snoball Beetle

Fly and Notes by Dennis Collier
Photos by Hans Weilenmann & Dennis Collier
Used by Permission

Hook: TMC 3769, sizes 10 to 16
Thread: Black 3/0 monocord
Body: 3mm Black closed-cell foam or 3-piece, 2mm laminated closed-cell foam
Legs: Black small round rubber
Indicator: Deer belly hair, tied butts first
Glue: Zap A Gap super glue – small bead from bend to eye to prevent foam from rollingThe birthplace of the Snoball Beetle lies in the granite amphitheater of an ancient glacial moraine in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. It was here, while guiding anglers on the upper Big Thompson River (known locally as the “Big-T”) during the summer tourist season, that I started developing a fly pattern the fish would find attractive, while at the same time facilitate my client being able to see and follow the drift of the fly once it had landed on the water. Visually locating the fly on the water at any distance can bechallenging for those who are new to fly fishing, and for those of us who are getting a little “hard of seeing.” The bright, neon indicator solved that problem and the Snoball Beetle was the end result.


The Snoball Beetle is actually a third cousin of the ubiquitous Chernobyl Ant. The original Snoball Beetle incorporated a sculpted body of black, 3mm closed-cell foam. A set of round rubber legs protrude at right-angles to the body, and the deer belly-hair visual indicator (from which the pattern name is derived) is mounted on top of the fly right behind the head. Its beauty lies in the simplicity of design and its fish catching aptitude-this is truly a “guide’s fly.”

Tie the indicator in a color most visible to you, but for me, fluorescent white, fluorescent chartreuse and fluorescent yellow, offer the highest degree of visibility since I’m red/green colorblind. White can sometimes be difficult to see in heavy foam lines, so I now carry the pattern with a few different colors of indicator to meet varying light and water conditions.

More flies by DennisFrom September 2013 newsletter